Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 1809-1818

First online:

Mapping and predicting deforestation patterns in the lowlands of Sumatra

  • Matthew Linkie
  • , Robert J. Smith
  • , Nigel Leader-Williams

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Protected area managers have limited resources and so need fine-scale information to decide where to focus their budgets for law enforcement and community outreach. This study used satellite imagery to map and analyse forest loss in an area that overlaps with Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra, to identify areas most susceptible to illegal logging. Between 1985 and 1992, forest located at lower elevation and close to roads was most vulnerable to clearance. These factors were also significant between 1992 and 1999, along with distance to newly created logging roads. The presence of these roads probably explained why the deforestation rate increased from 1.1% per year to 3.0% per year over the two study periods. The accuracy of the 1985–1992 model was measured in the field and successfully predicted subsequent deforestation patterns, suggesting that this methodology could be used to identify where future patrolling effort and community outreach programmes should be focussed. In addition, this approach could be used more widely in conservation planning to prioritise the protection of vulnerable sites.

Conservation planning Deforestation Kerinci Seblat National Park Satellite imagery Sumatra