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Rapid conversions and avoided deforestation: examining four decades of industrial plantation expansion in Borneo

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

New plantations can either cause deforestation by replacing natural forests or avoid this by using previously cleared areas. The extent of these two situations is contested in tropical biodiversity hotspots where objective data are limited. Here, we explore delays between deforestation and the establishment of industrial tree plantations on Borneo using satellite imagery. Between 1973 and 2015 an estimated 18.7 Mha of Borneo’s old-growth forest were cleared (14.4 Mha and 4.2 Mha in Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo). Industrial plantations expanded by 9.1 Mha (7.8 Mha oil-palm; 1.3 Mha pulpwood). Approximately 7.0 Mha of the total plantation area in 2015 (9.2 Mha) were old-growth forest in 1973, of which 4.5–4.8 Mha (24–26% of Borneo-wide deforestation) were planted within five years of forest clearance (3.7–3.9 Mha oil-palm; 0.8–0.9 Mha pulpwood). This rapid within-five-year conversion has been greater in Malaysia than in Indonesia (57–60% versus 15–16%). In Indonesia, a higher proportion of oil-palm plantations was developed on already cleared degraded lands (a legacy of recurrent forest fires). However, rapid conversion of Indonesian forests to industrial plantations has increased steeply since 2005. We conclude that plantation industries have been the principle driver of deforestation in Malaysian Borneo over the last four decades. In contrast, their role in deforestation in Indonesian Borneo was less marked, but has been growing recently. We note caveats in interpreting these results and highlight the need for greater accountability in plantation development.

No MeSH data available.


Proportion (in area terms) of industrial oil-palm (solid lines) and pulpwood (dashed lines) plantations established (A) on land that had forest less than five years before planting (rapid conversion), (B) on land that lacked forest cover for at least five years, or (C) for at least ten years prior to planting in Indonesian Borneo. (D–F) is for Malaysian Borneo.
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f6: Proportion (in area terms) of industrial oil-palm (solid lines) and pulpwood (dashed lines) plantations established (A) on land that had forest less than five years before planting (rapid conversion), (B) on land that lacked forest cover for at least five years, or (C) for at least ten years prior to planting in Indonesian Borneo. (D–F) is for Malaysian Borneo.

Mentions: Pulpwood plantations follow somewhat distinct patterns. Though the areas involved are smaller than for oil-palm (1.3 Mha vs 7.8 Mha), the areas converted to pulpwood plantations involve a greater proportion of rapid, within-five-year, conversion – a difference that is especially marked in Indonesia Borneo and occurs throughout the four decade study period (Fig. 6).


Rapid conversions and avoided deforestation: examining four decades of industrial plantation expansion in Borneo
Proportion (in area terms) of industrial oil-palm (solid lines) and pulpwood (dashed lines) plantations established (A) on land that had forest less than five years before planting (rapid conversion), (B) on land that lacked forest cover for at least five years, or (C) for at least ten years prior to planting in Indonesian Borneo. (D–F) is for Malaysian Borneo.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5015015&req=5

f6: Proportion (in area terms) of industrial oil-palm (solid lines) and pulpwood (dashed lines) plantations established (A) on land that had forest less than five years before planting (rapid conversion), (B) on land that lacked forest cover for at least five years, or (C) for at least ten years prior to planting in Indonesian Borneo. (D–F) is for Malaysian Borneo.
Mentions: Pulpwood plantations follow somewhat distinct patterns. Though the areas involved are smaller than for oil-palm (1.3 Mha vs 7.8 Mha), the areas converted to pulpwood plantations involve a greater proportion of rapid, within-five-year, conversion – a difference that is especially marked in Indonesia Borneo and occurs throughout the four decade study period (Fig. 6).

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

New plantations can either cause deforestation by replacing natural forests or avoid this by using previously cleared areas. The extent of these two situations is contested in tropical biodiversity hotspots where objective data are limited. Here, we explore delays between deforestation and the establishment of industrial tree plantations on Borneo using satellite imagery. Between 1973 and 2015 an estimated 18.7 Mha of Borneo’s old-growth forest were cleared (14.4 Mha and 4.2 Mha in Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo). Industrial plantations expanded by 9.1 Mha (7.8 Mha oil-palm; 1.3 Mha pulpwood). Approximately 7.0 Mha of the total plantation area in 2015 (9.2 Mha) were old-growth forest in 1973, of which 4.5–4.8 Mha (24–26% of Borneo-wide deforestation) were planted within five years of forest clearance (3.7–3.9 Mha oil-palm; 0.8–0.9 Mha pulpwood). This rapid within-five-year conversion has been greater in Malaysia than in Indonesia (57–60% versus 15–16%). In Indonesia, a higher proportion of oil-palm plantations was developed on already cleared degraded lands (a legacy of recurrent forest fires). However, rapid conversion of Indonesian forests to industrial plantations has increased steeply since 2005. We conclude that plantation industries have been the principle driver of deforestation in Malaysian Borneo over the last four decades. In contrast, their role in deforestation in Indonesian Borneo was less marked, but has been growing recently. We note caveats in interpreting these results and highlight the need for greater accountability in plantation development.

No MeSH data available.