Center for International Forestry Research
Recent publications
The current global road network expansion scenario poses a conflict of interest between Sustainable Development Goals of human well-being and biosphere, which could be mitigated through strengthening of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process. Here, we propose the integration in EIAs of a method focusing on landscape-level connectivity for wildlife, based on easily accessible satellite imagery and basic species data that need not be site-specific. This method identifies key locations along the (proposed) road for wildlife connectivity based on expert-based wildlife connectivity models, and specifies the type of measures needed through a behavioral response framework. We tested our proposed method with field data on four species through a single-species occupancy model followed by Bayesian occupancy modeling. We show that the expert-based model resulted in a conservative identification of key locations for mitigation interventions. Furthermore, we highlight how already required traffic bridges and culverts can be incorporated as part of the mitigation strategy. Our method permits incorporation of proactive mitigation measures in the road design to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife and their habitat, helping to limit the need for expensive post-hoc solutions. We present this method through a case-study from Guyana, South America.
Mangrove distribution maps are used for a variety of applications, ranging from estimates of mangrove extent, deforestation rates, quantify carbon stocks, to modelling response to climate change. There are multiple mangrove distribution datasets, which were derived from different remote sensing data and classification methods, and so there are some discrepancies among these datasets, especially with respect to the locations of their range limits. We investigate the latitudinal discrepancies in poleward mangrove range limits represented by these datasets and how these differences translate climatologically considering factors known to control mangrove distributions. We compare four widely used global mangrove distribution maps - the World Atlas of Mangroves, the World Atlas of Mangroves 2, the Global Distribution of Mangroves, the Global Mangrove Watch. We examine differences in climate among 21 range limit positions by analysing a set of bioclimatic variables that have been commonly related to the distribution of mangroves. Global mangrove maps show important discrepancies in the position of poleward range limits. Latitudinal differences between mangrove range limits in the datasets exceed 5°, 7° and 10° in western North America, western Australia and northern West Africa, respectively. In some range limit areas, such as Japan, discrepancies in the position of mangrove range limits in different datasets correspond to differences exceeding 600 mm in annual precipitation and > 10 °C in the minimum temperature of the coldest month. We conclude that dissimilarities in mapping mangrove range limits in different parts of the world can jeopardise inferences of climatic thresholds. We expect that global mapping efforts should prioritise the position of range limits with greater accuracy, ideally combining data from field-based surveys and very high-resolution remote sensing data. An accurate representation of range limits will contribute to better predicting mangrove range dynamics and shifts in response to climate change.
Over the past two decades, growing recognition of forest-based Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) sparked forest tenure reforms to formalize IP and LC rights to forests and forest lands through a variety of mechanisms. Nevertheless, tenure security, an intended objective of such reforms, has received less attention, despite being integral to the life and livelihoods of IPs and LCs and important for forests. Formal rights - a title, certificate or contract - is often used as an inadequate proxy for security, though the need to understand perception has been increasingly recognized. But understanding perceptions around tenure (in)security also raises the challenge of unpacking what people mean when they say they perceive tenure to be secure or insecure. This article explores perceptions of tenure (in)security using a novel approach – Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA), a multi-stakeholder foresight scenario-building method. The research explores tenure security scenarios in Indonesia, Peru and Uganda drawing on results from a series of workshops implemented in 2015 and 2016 primarily at subnational level, with 177 government officials, practitioners and members of community level organizations involved in forest tenure reforms. Four women-only workshops (three subnational and one national) were organized in Peru and Uganda with an additional 87 participants. The results demonstrate the immense depth and complexity of tenure security and insecurity perceptions and the interplay of multiple factors driving toward and away from desirable futures. The method also demonstrates the benefits of PPA for bringing together different perspectives and promoting mutual understanding without reducing complexity. The article contributes to efforts to find common ground not only around how tenure (in)security is defined but also how it is being assessed; and points to the need to embrace more holistic approaches in practice for the future of forest dependent communities and forest landscapes.
Conservation research and practice are increasingly engaging with people and drawing on social sciences to improve environmental governance. In doing so, conservation engages with power in many ways, often implicitly. Conservation scientists and practitioners exercise power when dealing with species, people and the environment, and increasingly they are trying to address power relations to ensure effective conservation outcomes (guiding decision‐making, understanding conflict, ensuring just policy and management outcomes). However, engagement with power in conservation is often limited or misguided. To address challenges associated with power in conservation, we introduce the four dominant approaches to analyzing power to conservation scientists and practitioners who are less familiar with social theories of power. These include actor‐centered, institutional, structural, and, discursive/governmental power. To complement these more common framings of power, we also discuss further approaches, notably non‐human and Indigenous perspectives. We illustrate how power operates at different scales and in different contexts, and provide six guiding principles for better consideration of power in conservation research and practice. These include: (1) considering scales and spaces in decision‐making, (2) clarifying underlying values and assumptions of actions, (3) recognizing conflicts as manifestations of power dynamics, (4) analyzing who wins and loses in conservation, (5) accounting for power relations in participatory schemes, and, (6) assessing the right to intervene and the consequences of interventions. We hope that a deeper engagement with social theories of power can make conservation and environmental management more effective and just while also improving transdisciplinary research and practice. This paper offers an overview of core power theories that are relevant to conservation research and practice and provides examples of how power operates in conservation drawing on literature and three supporting case studies. Finally, the paper then provides six guiding principles for better power analysis and uptake in conservation research and practice.
Male and female dioecious tropical trees are subjected to distinct demands that may influence their ecology. An example is Myrianthus holstii Engl. that produces persistent fruit eaten by elephants and other large mammals that frequently damage the trees. Myrianthus holstii populations were assessed with 24 2-km transects, spanning an elevation range of 1435-2495 m in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Of 1089 stems ≥ 5 cm diameter 449 were female, 383 were male and the rest were non-fertile. We also noted one apparently monoecious individual. Males produced flowers at smaller sizes than did females (minimum recorded diameters 5.5 cm and 6.8 cm, respectively). Both sexes had similar distributions, favouring moderately closed forest and mid-slope locations. Female trees were more frequently damaged and typically slightly shorter than males at large diameters. Seedling densities were positively associated with the presence of larger female trees. Our results are consistent with a life history where both sexes have similar requirements, but fruiting females experience a greater frequency of severe damage.
Indonesia, the most mangrove-rich nation in the world, has proposed the most globally ambitious mangrove rehabilitation target (600,000 ha) of any nation, to be achieved by 2024 to support multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 1–3, 6, 13 and 14). Yet, mangrove restoration and rehabilitation across the world have often suffered low success rates and been applied at small scales. Here, we identify 193,367 ha (estimated costs at US$0.29–1.74 billion) that have the potential to align with the national mangrove rehabilitation programme. Despite being only 30% of the national target, our robust assessment considered biogeomorphology, 20 years of land-use and land-cover change and state forest land status, all key factors moderating mangrove restoration success which have often been neglected in Indonesia. Increasing subnational government representation in mangrove governance as well as improving monitoring and evaluation will increase the likelihood of achieving the mangrove rehabilitation targets and reduce risks of failure. Rehabilitating and conserving mangroves in Indonesia could benefit 74 million coastal people and can potentially contribute to the national land-sector emissions reduction of up to 16%. An Indonesia-wide analysis identifies locations for potential mangrove restoration, ranked by scenarios of success likelihood according to biogeomorphology, current and past land use and land tenure, and estimates the restoration costs.
Urbanization' refers to the expansion of built-up areas caused by several factors. This study focuses on the urbanization process in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Supervised classification was conducted in Google Earth Engine by using Landsat data for years 2001, 2011 and 2021. The random forest classifier with 250 trees was used for classification to generate land-cover map. A land-cover map of 2021 was used as base map in the InVEST tool for scenario modelling. An accuracy assessment with 20% of sample points was conducted with different metrics, such as overall accuracy, kappa coefficient, producer accuracy, and consumer accuracy. The results show an increment of built-up areas by around 67 km 2 over 20 years in a centrifugal pattern from the core district, converting agricultural and forest land. 'Forest' is still dominant land-use class, with an area of 177.97 km 2. Agricultural land was highly converted to urban area. The overall accuracy of this classification process ranged 0.96-1.00 for different years. The scenario modelling further elaborated an amiability of drastic shift in land-use classes to 'built-up', especially forest and agriculture, by around 33 km 2 and 66 km 2 , respectively. This study recommends the consideration of ecological approaches during the planning process.
Current policy is driving renewed impetus to restore forests to return ecological function, protect species, sequester carbon and secure livelihoods. Here we assess the contribution of tree planting to ecosystem restoration in tropical and sub-tropical Asia; we synthesize evidence on mortality and growth of planted trees at 176 sites and assess structural and biodiversity recovery of co-located actively restored and naturally regenerating forest plots. Mean mortality of planted trees was 18% 1 year after planting, increasing to 44% after 5 years. Mortality varied strongly by site and was typically ca 20% higher in open areas than degraded forest, with height at planting positively affecting survival. Size-standardized growth rates were negatively related to species-level wood density in degraded forest and plantations enrichment settings. Based on community-level data from 11 landscapes, active restoration resulted in faster accumulation of tree basal area and structural properties were closer to old-growth reference sites, relative to natural regeneration, but tree species richness did not differ. High variability in outcomes across sites indicates that planting for restoration is potentially rewarding but risky and context-dependent. Restoration projects must prepare for and manage commonly occurring challenges and align with efforts to protect and reconnect remaining forest areas. The abstract of this article is available in Bahasa Indonesia in the electronic supplementary material. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Understanding forest landscape restoration: reinforcing scientific foundations for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’.
In low- and middle-income countries, undernutrition often co-exists with intestinal parasites, especially Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections in children. The collective impact of both conditions result in undernutrition and can exacerbate the general poor health status of children. A cross-sectional survey of 422 mother-child (12–59 months old) pairs from 14 villages in the District of Ndelele, East Region of Cameroon, was carried out to assess the magnitude and correlates of undernutrition and intestinal parasites. Socio-demographic data were collected from mothers and anthropometric data were collected from children. Parasitological assessment was performed using a combination of direct microscopy flotation, sedimentation and centrifugation techniques. Correlates of undernutrition and intestinal parasites were identified using multinomial logistic regression at individual and household levels. 83.77% of the children assessed for undernutrition were undernourished and 66.82% were positive for one or more intestinal parasites. It was not uncommon for the study participants to be concurrently infected with two or more intestinal parasites. The most common intestinal parasitic infections detected in the study were A . lumbricoides , E . histolytica/dispar and Hookworm infection. Multinomial logistic regression using Nutritional status as outcome showed that, children who were not exclusively breastfed were 106% (RR = 2.06; C.I = 1.12–3.80) more likely to be underweight compared to those who were exclusively breastfed. The household size of 4 to 6 persons also significantly impacted wasting (p-value = 0.007) at 7% (RR = 1.07, C.I = 0.49–2.32). Analysis by a logistic regression model with STH infection as outcome revealed that, Fingernail cleanness (p-value = 0.044; AOR = 1.75; CI = 1.09–2.78) and household size (p-value = 0.038; AOR = 0.55; CI = 0.32–0.92) were positively associated with intestinal parasite infection at the 5% significant level. This study reveals that intestinal helminthic parasitic infections (STH) and undernutrition are serious health problems in children below five in the study area. To address this dire situation, concerted efforts are needed to improve sanitation, hygiene education access, community deworming programs, and improve diets.
Wild animals are important worldwide because of the multiple values they represent for human societies. Different frameworks have been proposed to understand the values of wildlife from economic and noneconomic perspectives. Despite efforts from different disciplines to provide a holistic framework for the analysis of wildlife values, the focus is still based on the monetary value derived from market prices. Community-oriented approaches to wildlife conservation have an especially strong economic rationale because they depend on the economic costs and benefits that wildlife represents to local communities. However, purely economic approaches ignore that values are subjective and as such are perceived differently among stakeholders according to their social, economic, cultural, and ecological context. The lack of a holistic framework hinders the possibility to provide a clear and practical tool for the resolution of wildlife conservation conflicts and the identification of management options that maximize values. Based on a wide literature review, we propose a comprehensive wildlife value framework (WVF) incorporating the values of wildlife identified in the academic literature into the total economic value (TEV) framework. Costs associated with human-wildlife conflicts are also incorporated as well as subjective perceptions of values based on multidimensional well-being criteria. This work aims to provide a common structure within which different perspectives related to wildlife can be captured to inform multi-actor, multi-objective decision making related to wildlife management.
An animal’s daily use of time (their “diel activity”) reflects their adaptations, requirements, and interactions, yet we know little about the underlying processes governing diel activity within and among communities. Here we examine whether community-level activity patterns differ among biogeographic regions, and explore the roles of top-down versus bottom-up processes and thermoregulatory constraints. Using data from systematic camera-trap networks in 16 protected forests across the tropics, we examine the relationships of mammals’ diel activity to body mass and trophic guild. Also, we assess the activity relationships within and among guilds. Apart from Neotropical insectivores, guilds exhibited consistent cross-regional activity in relation to body mass. Results indicate that thermoregulation constrains herbivore and insectivore activity (e.g., larger Afrotropical herbivores are ~7 times more likely to be nocturnal than smaller herbivores), while bottom-up processes constrain the activity of carnivores in relation to herbivores, and top-down processes constrain the activity of small omnivores and insectivores in relation to large carnivores’ activity. Overall, diel activity of tropical mammal communities appears shaped by similar processes and constraints among regions reflecting body mass and trophic guilds.
Inland fisheries are important for food security in communities around the world, especially in developing countries. In North Rupununi, Guyana, the state of exploited stocks is poorly understood, and fishery monitoring and assessment are challenging because diverse fishing gears and target species are distributed across a heterogeneous landscape. This complexity created an opportunity for community‐based monitoring (CBM) to support data‐limited assessment. Standardised CBM was established for the North Rupununi as part of a new inland fisheries management plan initiated by indigenous community groups with support from the government. Quantitative length‐based assessments undertaken for target stocks suggested moderate levels of exploitation consistent with local perception. Our study highlights that local experts and community participants with different levels of training can collect accurate biodiversity data. Further development of CBM is important in North Rupununi. We recommend using local ecological knowledge indicators to track spatial and temporal patterns in exploitation and fish stock status.
The rise of zoonotic disease-related public health crises has sparked calls for policy action, including calls to close wildlife markets. Yet, these calls often reflect limited understanding of where, precisely, exposure to risk occurs along wildlife and wild meat trade chains. They also threaten to negatively impact food security and livelihoods. From a public health perspective, it is important to understand the practices that shape food safety all along the trade chain, resulting in meat that is either safe to eat or managed as a potential vector of pathogens. This article uses ethnographic methods to examine the steps that lead a wild animal from the forest to the plate of an urban consumer in Yangambi and Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Focusing on hunters, village-level consumers, transporters, market traders and urban consumers, we highlight specific practices that expose different actors involved in the trade chain to wild meat related health risks, including exposure to food borne illnesses from contaminated meat and zoonotic pathogens through direct contact with wild animals, and the local practices in place to reduce the same. We discuss interventions that could help prevent and mitigate zoonotic and food borne disease risks associated with wild meat trade chains.
The Government of Indonesia has been promoting the advancement of the biodiesel sector to fulfill its commitment to support clean energy, energy security, and rural development. This paper examines the economic impact of the biodiesel sector using a computable general equilibrium model. Besides analyzing the impacts on the national macroeconomic conditions, other sectors, and household incomes, our model has also included a regional block to capture the impact of the biodiesel mandate on regional growth. Two simulations were performed: (1) fulfillment of the 30% biodiesel blending target (B30 mandate), and (2) Simulation 1 combined with the European Union's biodiesel trade ban resulting in an export reduction of 5.18%. The results show that the two simulations provide positive impacts on macroeconomic variables, including real gross domestic product and real wages. However, the B30 mandate and the combined effect of the EU trade ban still yield an inflationary effect in the short term. They also potentially reduce the production of several agricultural products—such as sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, and soybeans—leading to an increase in food prices. The policy implications highlight that the current B30 mandate and EU ban cannot automatically improve the fuel trade balance.
Arctic fires can release large amounts of carbon from permafrost peatlands. Satellite observations reveal that fires burned ~4.7 million hectares in 2019 and 2020, accounting for 44% of the total burned area in the Siberian Arctic for the entire 1982–2020 period. The summer of 2020 was the warmest in four decades, with fires burning an unprecedentedly large area of carbon-rich soils. We show that factors of fire associated with temperature have increased in recent decades and identified a near-exponential relationship between these factors and annual burned area. Large fires in the Arctic are likely to recur with climatic warming before mid-century, because the temperature trend is reaching a threshold in which small increases in temperature are associated with exponential increases in the area burned.
Rigorous impact evaluations of local REDD+ (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) initiatives have shown some positive outcomes for forests, while well-being impacts have been mixed. However, will REDD+ outcomes persist over time after interventions have ended? Using quasi-experimental methods, we investigated the effects of one REDD+ project in the Brazilian Amazon on deforestation and people's well-being, including intra-community spillover effects (leakage). We then evaluated to what extent outcomes persisted after the project ended (permanence). This project combined Payments for Environmental Services (PES) with sustainable livelihood alternatives to reduce smallholder deforestation. Data came from face-to-face surveys with 113 households (treatment: 52; non-participant from treatment communities: 35; control: 46) in a three-datapoint panel design (2010, 2014 and 2019). Results indicate the REDD+ project conserved an average of 7.8% to 10.3% of forest cover per household and increased the probability of improving enrollees' well-being by 27–44%. We found no evidence for significant intra-community leakage. After the project ended, forest loss rebounded and perceived well-being declined – yet, importantly, past saved forest was not cleared. Therefore, our results confirm what the theory and stylized evidence envisioned for temporal payments on activity-reducing (‘set-aside’): forest loss was successfully delayed but not permanently eradicated.
In the Amazon, deforestation and climate change lead to increased vulnerability to forest degradation, threatening its existing carbon stocks and its capacity as a carbon sink. We use satellite L‐Band Vegetation Optical Depth (L‐VOD) data that provide an integrated (top‐down) estimate of biomass carbon to track changes over 2011–2019. Because the spatial resolution of L‐VOD is coarse (0.25°), it allows limited attribution of the observed changes. We therefore combined high‐resolution annual maps of forest cover and disturbances with biomass maps to model carbon losses (bottom‐up) from deforestation and degradation, and gains from regrowing secondary forests. We show an increase of deforestation and associated degradation losses since 2012 which greatly outweigh secondary forest gains. Degradation accounted for 40% of gross losses. After an increase in 2011, old‐growth forests show a net loss of above‐ground carbon between 2012 and 2019. The sum of component carbon fluxes in our model is consistent with the total biomass change from L‐VOD of 1.3 Pg C over 2012‐2019. Across nine Amazon countries, we found that while Brazil contains the majority of biomass stocks (64%), its losses from disturbances were disproportionately high (79% of gross losses). Our multi‐source analysis provides a pessimistic assessment of the Amazon carbon balance and highlights the urgent need to stop the recent rise of deforestation and degradation, particularly in the Brazilian Amazon. We used satellite L‐Band Vegetation Optical Depth (L‐VOD) data to track Amazon biomass changes over 2011–2019 and sought to attribute these changes by modelling individual processes. We show that the Amazon above‐ground carbon has declined since 2012 as losses from deforestation and subsequent degradation outweigh gains from secondary forest regrowth and variable old‐growth forest changes.
Protected areas are crucial to safeguard Sub-Saharan Africa’s extraordinary and abundant megafauna. In many of these areas, instability has derailed conservation efforts and impeded adequate wildlife monitoring. Discovered in 2004, Eastern chimpanzees are found in the Central Uele Basin in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) within the Bili- Uéré Protected Areas Complex (BUPAC), the largest contiguous protected area in the country. BUPAC is threatened by habitat destruction, mining, wild meat trade, and insecurity. BUPAC chimpanzees are part of the largest remaining continuous population of the species in Africa; they are also being behaviourally unique. Forest elephants were frequent in the 1960’s in the BUPAC but have declined significantly up to 2004 - 2007. We used line transects to estimate Eastern chimpanzee and forest elephant density in the BUPAC core area in 2016 and 2019 and compared these with the 2004-2007 surveys. A total of 37 and 137 two km long line transects were systematically placed in 5,841 km2 and 6,176 km2 survey areas in 2016 and 2019, respectively. We found that chimpanzee density did not change during the two survey periods but indicators for forest elephant density decreased eight-fold. Human activities were detected mainly along the core area periphery in both survey years, where they overlapped with centres of animal activity. The stable high density of chimpanzees is a positive outcome for the core BUPAC. However, despite being a conservation priority area that has received relatively intensified protection, declining forest elephant numbers are likely to reflect the high number of human conflict hotspots in vicinity as well as the increasing human population density around the core area. We propose by elevating the core area to National Park whilst strengthening on the ground enforcement and management structures as well as legal measures against poaching might ensure the longterm survival of such an important area in Africa.
Many vertebrate species undergo population fluctuations that may be random or regularly cyclic in nature. Vertebrate population cycles in northern latitudes are driven by both endogenous and exogenous factors. Suggested causes of mysterious disappearances documented for populations of the Neotropical, herd-forming, white-lipped peccary ( Tayassu pecari , henceforth “WLP”) include large-scale movements, overhunting, extreme floods, or disease outbreaks. By analyzing 43 disappearance events across the Neotropics and 88 years of commercial and subsistence harvest data for the Amazon, we show that WLP disappearances are widespread and occur regularly and at large spatiotemporal scales throughout the species’ range. We present evidence that the disappearances represent 7–12-year troughs in 20–30-year WLP population cycles occurring synchronously at regional and perhaps continent-wide spatial scales as large as 10,000–5 million km ² . This may represent the first documented case of natural population cyclicity in a Neotropical mammal. Because WLP populations often increase dramatically prior to a disappearance, we posit that their population cycles result from over-compensatory, density-dependent mortality. Our data also suggest that the increase phase of a WLP cycle is partly dependent on recolonization from proximal, unfragmented and undisturbed forests. This highlights the importance of very large, continuous natural areas that enable source-sink population dynamics and ensure re-colonization and local population persistence in time and space.
The government of Ethiopia has made an ambitious plan of building a carbon-neutral and middle-income economy by 2030. In 2016, the country pledged to restore 15 million hectares of degraded landscapes as part of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR 100). A total of three major forest landscape restoration (FLR) initiatives have been used to achieve this target: participatory forest management (PFM) to engage communities in sustainably managing natural forests; area enclosures/exclosures (AEs) to socially fence hillsides and degraded communal lands and allow these areas regain their productive potential; and sustainable land management program and the Green Legacy Initiative (SLM-GLI) that aim at conserving soil and water resources and planting seedlings to increase forest cover. After describing these FLR initiatives, this study evaluated their impacts on land use land cover change over time and assessed them against the six FLR principles by selecting nationally relevant criteria under each principle. The results showed that the FLR initiatives were rated rather low in terms of focusing on and managing landscapes for multiple benefits, in participation and benefits of stakeholders, in ownership and use rights, in employing approaches tailored to the local context, and in managing adaptively for long-term resilience. Concerning impacts, varying trends were observed for different areas, time periods, and restoration types. Recognizing and mitigating the limitations of these initiatives together with addressing site-specific drivers will improve the conservation and livelihood outcomes of FLR initiatives in Ethiopia. It is hoped that the findings of the study will inform FLR practitioners in other countries on the practical use of FLR principles in assessing the impacts of FLR initiatives.
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123 members
Ahmad Dermawan
  • Value Chain Finance and Investment
Christopher Martius
  • Forests and Environment Programme
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