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Deforestation in Indonesia

This research, funded by the Shearwater Foundation, investigates deforestation dynamics in an endemic-rich mountain system in West Java between 1990 and 2015.

While much has been published on recent rates of forest loss in the Sundaic lowlandsdeforestation rates and patterns on Java's endemic-rich mountains have been rather neglected. We used nearly 1000 Landsat images to examine spatio-altitudinal and temporal patterns of forest loss in montane West Java over the last 28 years, and the effectiveness of protected areas in halting deforestation over that period (Higginbottom et al. 2019). Around 40% of forest has been lost since 1988, the bulk occurring pre-2000 (2.5% per annum), falling to 1% per annum post-2007. Most deforestation has occurred at lower altitudes (<1000 m above sea level), both as attrition of the edges of forested mountain blocks as well as the near-total clearance of lower-altitude forested areas. Deforestation within protected areas was rife pre-2000 but greatly decreased thereafter, almost ceasing post-2007 in protected areas of high International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status. While this trend is welcome, it must be stressed that the area of remaining forest is only 5234 km2, that most accessible lower-altitude forest has already disappeared, and that the extant montane forest is largely fragmented and isolated. The biological value of these forests is huge and without strong intervention, we anticipate imminent loss of populations of taxa such as the Javan Slow Loris Nycticebus javanicus and Javan Green Magpie Cissa thalassina.​

Location of the study area
(a) within Southeast Asia
 (b) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the study location with stars indicating the mountain sites selected for further study; (c) land-cover change map; black line is the 400 m above sea level contour (grey boxes refer to the subset images in the next Figure, below).
Results of the land-cover change classification (top row)

Middle row: 1990 Landsat 5 median composite

Bottom row: 2016 Landsat 8 median composite

The three areas are the ones shown in the previous Figure.

Band association in the Landsat RGB false colour composites: R = shortwave infrared; G = near infrared; B = red.

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