Roads, deforestation, and the mitigating effect of protected areas in the Amazon

Barber, Christopher P., Cochrane, Mark A., Souza, Carlos M., and Laurance, William F. (2014) Roads, deforestation, and the mitigating effect of protected areas in the Amazon. Biological Conservation, 177. pp. 203-209.

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Roads have a major impact on Amazon deforestation. However, the effects of the rapidly growing network of illegal or unofficial roads in the Amazon are usually not considered. We assessed relationships between past deforestation and existing networks of highways, navigable rivers, and all other roads, including more than 190,000 km of unofficial roads. We found that deforestation was much higher near roads and rivers than elsewhere in the Amazon; nearly 95% of all deforestation occurred within 5.5 km of roads or 1 km of rivers. Protected areas near roads and rivers had much lower deforestation (10.9%) than did unprotected areas near roads and rivers (43.6%). If one assumes that existing protected areas halt deforestation, then we estimate that 39,462 km(2) of expected forest clearing would have been avoided. However, if one assumes that protected areas merely displace deforestation to other locations, then we estimate that 34,501 km(2) of expected clearing would have been displaced elsewhere. We conclude that proximity to transportation networks, particularly the rapidly growing unofficial road network, is a major proximate driver of deforestation in Amazonia and that protected areas are having a strong mitigating effect on that risk.

Item ID: 36121
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-2917
Keywords: Amazon, roads, protected areas, conservation, deforestation, tropical forests
Funders: NASA
Projects and Grants: NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Program (NNX08AU94H), NASA Biodiversity Program (NNX07AF16G), NASA Terrestrial Ecology Program (NNX11AB89G)
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 12:33
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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