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      A Global Analysis of Deforestation in Moist Tropical Forest Protected Areas

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          Protected areas (PAs) have been established to conserve tropical forests, but their effectiveness at reducing deforestation is uncertain. To explore this issue, we combined high resolution data of global forest loss over the period 2000–2012 with data on PAs. For each PA we quantified forest loss within the PA, in buffer zones 1, 5, 10 and 15 km outside the PA boundary as well as a 1 km buffer within the PA boundary. We analysed 3376 tropical and subtropical moist forest PAs in 56 countries over 4 continents. We found that 73% of PAs experienced substantial deforestation pressure, with >0.1% a −1 forest loss in the outer 1 km buffer. Forest loss within PAs was greatest in Asia (0.25% a −1) compared to Africa (0.1% a −1), the Neotropics (0.1% a −1) and Australasia (Australia and Papua New Guinea; 0.03% a −1). We defined performance ( P) of a PA as the ratio of forest loss in the inner 1 km buffer compared to the loss that would have occurred in the absence of the PA, calculated as the loss in the outer 1 km buffer corrected for any difference in deforestation pressure between the two buffers. To remove the potential bias due to terrain, we analysed a subset of PAs (n = 1804) where slope and elevation in inner and outer 1 km buffers were similar (within 1° and 100 m, respectively). We found 41% of PAs in this subset reduced forest loss in the inner buffer by at least 25% compared to the expected inner buffer forest loss (P<0.75). Median performance (

          ) of subset reserves was 0.87, meaning a reduction in forest loss within the PA of 13%. We found PAs were most effective in Australasia (
          ), moderately successful in the Neotropics (
          ) and Africa (
          ), but ineffective in Asia (
          ). We found many countries have PAs that give little or no protection to forest loss, particularly in parts of Asia, west Africa and central America. Across the tropics, the median effectiveness of PAs at the national level improved with gross domestic product per capita. Whilst tropical and subtropical moist forest PAs do reduce forest loss, widely varying performance suggests substantial opportunities for improved protection, particularly in Asia.

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          Most cited references 15

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          Effectiveness of parks in protecting tropical biodiversity.

          We assessed the impacts of anthropogenic threats on 93 protected areas in 22 tropical countries to test the hypothesis that parks are an effective means to protect tropical biodiversity. We found that the majority of parks are successful at stopping land clearing, and to a lesser degree effective at mitigating logging, hunting, fire, and grazing. Park effectiveness correlates with basic management activities such as enforcement, boundary demarcation, and direct compensation to local communities, suggesting that even modest increases in funding would directly increase the ability of parks to protect tropical biodiversity.
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            Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas.

            The rapid disruption of tropical forests probably imperils global biodiversity more than any other contemporary phenomenon. With deforestation advancing quickly, protected areas are increasingly becoming final refuges for threatened species and natural ecosystem processes. However, many protected areas in the tropics are themselves vulnerable to human encroachment and other environmental stresses. As pressures mount, it is vital to know whether existing reserves can sustain their biodiversity. A critical constraint in addressing this question has been that data describing a broad array of biodiversity groups have been unavailable for a sufficiently large and representative sample of reserves. Here we present a uniquely comprehensive data set on changes over the past 20 to 30 years in 31 functional groups of species and 21 potential drivers of environmental change, for 60 protected areas stratified across the world’s major tropical regions. Our analysis reveals great variation in reserve ‘health’: about half of all reserves have been effective or performed passably, but the rest are experiencing an erosion of biodiversity that is often alarmingly widespread taxonomically and functionally. Habitat disruption, hunting and forest-product exploitation were the strongest predictors of declining reserve health. Crucially, environmental changes immediately outside reserves seemed nearly as important as those inside in determining their ecological fate, with changes inside reserves strongly mirroring those occurring around them. These findings suggest that tropical protected areas are often intimately linked ecologically to their surrounding habitats, and that a failure to stem broad-scale loss and degradation of such habitats could sharply increase the likelihood of serious biodiversity declines.
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              High and Far: Biases in the Location of Protected Areas

              Background About an eighth of the earth's land surface is in protected areas (hereafter “PAs”), most created during the 20th century. Natural landscapes are critical for species persistence and PAs can play a major role in conservation and in climate policy. Such contributions may be harder than expected to implement if new PAs are constrained to the same kinds of locations that PAs currently occupy. Methodology/Principal Findings Quantitatively extending the perception that PAs occupy “rock and ice”, we show that across 147 nations PA networks are biased towards places that are unlikely to face land conversion pressures even in the absence of protection. We test each country's PA network for bias in elevation, slope, distances to roads and cities, and suitability for agriculture. Further, within each country's set of PAs, we also ask if the level of protection is biased in these ways. We find that the significant majority of national PA networks are biased to higher elevations, steeper slopes and greater distances to roads and cities. Also, within a country, PAs with higher protection status are more biased than are the PAs with lower protection statuses. Conclusions/Significance In sum, PAs are biased towards where they can least prevent land conversion (even if they offer perfect protection). These globally comprehensive results extend findings from nation-level analyses. They imply that siting rules such as the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 Target [to protect 10% of all ecoregions] might raise PA impacts if applied at the country level. In light of the potential for global carbon-based payments for avoided deforestation or REDD, these results suggest that attention to threat could improve outcomes from the creation and management of PAs.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                3 December 2015
                : 10
                : 12
                [1 ]School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT United Kingdom
                [2 ]School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT United Kingdom
                [3 ]The Rowans, Thomastown, Huntly, AB54 6AJ United Kingdom
                Chinese Academy of Forestry, CHINA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: DVS BDS. Performed the experiments: BDS. Analyzed the data: DVS BDS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BDS. Wrote the paper: DVS BDS MK DG EG.

                © 2015 Spracklen et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 7, Tables: 1, Pages: 16
                The authors acknowledge the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) and a Natural Environment Research Council grant (NE/G015015/1). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                All the derived data from our paper can be found in the file reserves.xls in Supplementary Information. Original satellite image data is available from: Hansen, M. C., P. V. Potapov, R. Moore, M. Hancher, S. A. Turubanova, A. Tyukavina, D. Thau, S. V. Stehman, S. J. Goetz, T. R. Loveland, A. Kommareddy, A. Egorov, L. Chini, C. O. Justice, and J. R. G. Townshend. 2013. “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change.” Science 342 (15 November): 850–53. Data available on-line from: http://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest.



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