Trans-national conservation and infrastructure development in the Heart of Borneo

Sloan, Sean, Campbell, Mason J., Alamgir, Mohammed, Lechner, Alex M., Engert, Jayden, and Laurance, William F. (2019) Trans-national conservation and infrastructure development in the Heart of Borneo. PLoS ONE, 14 (9). e0221947.

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Abstract

The Heart of Borneo initiative has promoted the integration of protected areas and sustainably-managed forests across Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Recently, however, member states of the Heart of Borneo have begun pursuing ambitious unilateral infrastructure-development schemes to accelerate economic growth, jeopardizing the underlying goal of transboundary integrated conservation. Focusing on Sabah, Malaysia, we highlight conflicts between its Pan-Borneo Highway scheme and the regional integration of protected areas, unprotected intact forests, and conservation-priority forests. Road developments in southern Sabah in particular would drastically reduce protected-area integration across the northern Heart of Borneo region. Such developments would separate two major clusters of protected areas that account for one-quarter of all protected areas within the Heart of Borneo complex. Sabah has proposed forest corridors and highway underpasses as means of retaining ecological connectivity in this context. Connectivity modelling identified numerous overlooked areas for connectivity rehabilitation among intact forest patches following planned road development. While such ‘linear-conservation planning’ might theoretically retain up to 85% of intact-forest connectivity and integrate half of the conservation-priority forests across Sabah, in reality it is very unlikely to achieve meaningful ecological integration. Moreover, such measure would be exceedingly costly if properly implemented–apparently beyond the operating budget of relevant Malaysian authorities. Unless critical road segments are cancelled, planned infrastructure will fragment important conservation landscapes with little recourse for mitigation. This likelihood reinforces earlier calls for the legal recognition of the Heart of Borneo region for conservation planning as well as for enhanced tri-lateral coordination of both conservation and development.

Item ID: 61935
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
Copyright Information: © 2019 Sloan 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: James Cook University (JCU)
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25903/5ea65b0680476
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 03:52
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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