Debates over forest loss in Borneo generally focus on the extent to which industrial plantations are to blame: those on the conservation side charge oil palm and pulp and paper for the destruction of tropical rainforest, those on the plantation side tend to argue that planting is done on already deforested land.
Until now, both sides have lacked clear evidence to justify their claims.
“The story is complex, drivers of deforestation are many. Until now we lacked information to distinguish so-called good and bad plantations,” said Douglas Sheil of the Norwegian University of Life Science.
In a new study published in Scientific Reports that he co-authored, Sheil and fellow scientists reviewed over 400 Landsat satellite images of Borneo between 1973 and 2015 to track forest loss and degradation and the concomitant expansion of plantations. The impacts of drought and fires tied to El Nino events were also considered.
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