, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 781-794

Trends of Forest Dynamics in Tiger Landscapes Across Asia

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Abstract

Protected areas (PAs) are cornerstones of biodiversity conservation, but small parks alone cannot support wide-ranging species, such as the tiger. Hence, forest dynamics in the surrounding landscapes of PAs are also important to tiger conservation. Tiger landscapes often support considerable human population in proximity of the PA, sometimes within the core itself, and thus are subject to various land use activities (such as agricultural expansion and road development) driving habitat loss and fragmentation. We synthesize information from 27 journal articles in 24 tiger landscapes to assess forest-cover dynamics in tiger-range countries. Although 29% of the PAs considered in this study have negligible change in overall forest cover, approximately 71% are undergoing deforestation and fragmentation. Approximately 58% of the total case studies have human settlements within the core area. Most changes—including agricultural expansion, plantation, and farming (52%), fuelwood and fodder collection (43%), logging (38%), grazing (38%), and tourism and development (10%)—can be attributed to human impacts largely linked to the nature of the management regime. This study highlights the need for incorporating new perspectives, ideas, and lessons learned locally and across borders into management plans to ensure tiger conservation in landscapes dominated by human activities. Given the increasing isolation of most parks due to agricultural, infrastructural, and commercial developments at the periphery, it is imperative to conduct planning and evaluation at the landscape level, as well as incorporate multiple actors and institutions in planning, instead of focusing solely on conservation within the PAs as is currently the case in most tiger parks.