Conservation strategies for orangutans: reintroduction versus habitat preservation and the benefits of sustainably logged forest

Wilson, Howard B., Meijaard, Erik, Venter, Oscar, Ancrenaz, Marc, and Possingham, Hugh P. (2014) Conservation strategies for orangutans: reintroduction versus habitat preservation and the benefits of sustainably logged forest. PLoS ONE, 9 (7). e102174. pp. 1-10.

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Abstract

The Sumatran orangutan is currently listed by the IUCN as critically endangered and the Bornean species as endangered. Unless effective conservation measures are enacted quickly, most orangutan populations without adequate protection face a dire future. Two main strategies are being pursued to conserve orangutans: (i) rehabilitation and reintroduction of ex-captive or displaced individuals; and (ii) protection of their forest habitat to abate threats like deforestation and hunting. These strategies are often mirrored in similar programs to save other valued and endangered mega-fauna. Through GIS analysis, collating data from across the literature, and combining this information within a modelling and decision analysis framework, we analysed which strategy or combination of strategies is the most cost-effective at maintaining wild orangutan populations, and under what conditions. We discovered that neither strategy was optimal under all circumstances but was dependent on the relative cost per orangutan, the timescale of management concern, and the rate of deforestation. Reintroduction, which costs twelve times as much per animal as compared to protection of forest, was only a cost-effective strategy at very short timescales. For time scales longer than 10–20 years, forest protection is the more cost-efficient strategy for maintaining wild orangutan populations. Our analyses showed that a third, rarely utilised strategy is intermediate: introducing sustainable logging practices and protection from hunting in timber production forest. Maximum long-term cost-efficiency is achieved by working in conservation forest. However, habitat protection involves addressing complex conservation issues and conflicting needs at the landscape level. We find a potential resolution in that well-managed production forests could achieve intermediate conservation outcomes. This has broad implications for sustaining biodiversity more generally within an economically productive landscape. Insights from this analysis should provide a better framework to prioritize financial investments, and facilitate improved integration between the organizations that implement these strategies.

Item ID: 36210
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information:

© 2014 Wilson 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.

Funders: Australian Government, Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2014 11:06
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960505 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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