Title: Using Remote Sensing to Inform Conservation Status Assessment: Estimates of Recent Deforestation Rates on New Britain and the Impacts upon Endemic Birds
Citation: BIOLOGICAL CONSERVATION vol. 141 p. 56-66
Publication Year: 2008
JRC N°: JRC40005
ISSN: 0006-3207
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC40005
DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2007.08.023
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Remote sensing is increasingly used by policy-makers and conservationists to identify conservation priorities and changes in land cover. This is particularly important in the biodiverse tropics, where there are often few field data. Conservation action is often directed towards areas containing globally threatened species, but there have been few attempts to improve assessments of species¿ extinction risk through remote sensing. Here, in a novel approach we use deforestation estimates, measured through satellite imagery, to assess the conservation status of an entire endemic avifauna, based on IUCN Red List criteria. The island of New Britain, east of New Guinea, is of very high global conservation importance, and home to 37 endemic or restricted-range bird species. Analysis suggests 12% of forest cover was lost between 1989 and 2000, including over 20% of forest under 100 m altitude, with substantial areas cleared for commercial oil palm plantations. Application of the IUCN Red List criteria to these new data on area of remaining forest and rates of deforestation indicates that many species are more threatened than previously realised, with the total number of threatened or near threatened species increasing from 12 to 21. Thus, this study highlights the urgency of establishing and effectively managing protected areas in suitable lowland forests of New Britain. More broadly, it demonstrates another potential of remote sensing to assist strategic conservation decisions.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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