Road expansion and persistence in forests of the Congo Basin

Kleinschroth, Fritz, Laporte, Nadine, Laurance, William F., Goetz, Scott J., and Ghazoul, Jaboury (2019) Road expansion and persistence in forests of the Congo Basin. Nature Sustainability, 2 (7). pp. 628-634.

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Abstract

Roads facilitate development in remote forest regions, often with detrimental consequences for ecosystems. In the Congo Basin, unpaved logging roads used by timber firms, as well as paved and unpaved public roads, have expanded greatly. Comparing old (before 2003) and new (2003-2018) road datasets derived from Landsat imagery, we show that the total length of road networks inside logging concessions in Central Africa has doubled since 2003, whereas the total length of roads outside concessions has increased by 40%. We estimate that 44% of roads in logging concessions were abandoned by 2018, as compared to just 12% of roads outside concessions. Annual deforestation rates between 2000 and 2017 near (within 1 km) roads increased markedly and were highest for old roads, lowest for abandoned roads and generally higher outside logging concessions. The impact of logging on deforestation is partially ameliorated by the nearly fourfold higher rate of road abandonment inside concessions, but the overall expansion of logging roads in the Congo Basin is of broad concern for forest ecosystems, carbon storage and wildlife vulnerable to hunting. Road decommissioning after logging could play a crucial role in reducing the negative impacts of timber extraction on forest ecosystems.

Item ID: 60079
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2398-9629
Funders: European Union (EU), Arcus Foundation, NASA Applied Sciences Ecological Forecasting Program
Projects and Grants: EU grant number 690268, NASA grant NNX17AG51G
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 07:35
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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