Biodiversity and Conservation

, 20:2693 | Cite as

Protected areas of Borneo fail to protect forest landscapes with high habitat connectivity

  • Sarah Proctor
  • Colin J. McClean
  • Jane K. HillEmail author
Original Paper


Throughout the world, previously extensive areas of natural habitats have been degraded and fragmented, and improving habitat connectivity may help the long-term persistence of species, and their ability to adapt to climate changes. We focused on Borneo, where many remaining areas of tropical forest are highly fragmented, and we assessed the extent to which Protected Areas (PAs) protect highly-connected forest sites. We analysed remotely-sensed land cover data (0.86 km2 grid cell resolution) using ‘Zonation’ reserve design software, and we ranked grid cells (rank 0–1) according to forest extent and connectivity. PAs currently cover 9% of Borneo, but <20% of highly-connected cells (i.e. cells with Zonation ranks ≥0.9) lie within PAs. Approximately 65% of highly-connected cells were located above 400 m elevation, although >60% of Borneo’s total land area lies below 200 m and only 15% of highly-connected cells occurred in these low elevation areas. These findings were relatively insensitive to assumptions about species’ dispersal ability (within the range 1–20 km; representing relatively mobile animal species). The percentage of highly-connected grid cells within PAs could rise from <20 to >50% under proposed new PAs (including the ‘Heart of Borneo’ project), although many other highly-connected sites will remain unprotected. On-going land-use changes mean that existing PAs in lowland areas are likely to become increasingly isolated within inhospitable agricultural landscapes, and improving connectivity through reforestation and rehabilitation of degraded forest may be required to maintain the conservation value of these PAs in future.


Landscape permeability Reserve design SE Asia Landscape prioritization Climate change adaptation 



SP received funding from UKPopnet (NERC), and JKH and CJM received funding from the UK Darwin Initiative (Defra). We thank Atte Moilanen for advice on using Zonation.

Supplementary material

10531_2011_99_MOESM1_ESM.doc (379 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 379 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Proctor
    • 1
  • Colin J. McClean
    • 2
  • Jane K. Hill
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biology (Area 18)University of YorkYorkUK
  2. 2.Environment DepartmentUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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