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  • Interactive map provides tools for corporate accountability and land-use planning in Papua

Interactive map provides tools for corporate accountability and land-use planning in Papua

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The contrast between oil palm plantation and forest is seen in Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Agus Andrianto/CIFOR

Scientists hope a new interactive atlas that tracks deforestation annually will enable local governments to plan for change and avert widespread destruction of the forests on which indigenous people depend for food and livelihoods.

Due to its remote location and sparse population, Papua, Indonesia, harbors one of the Pacific’s last remaining expanses of pristine tropical forest. However, recent spikes in deforestation rates, accompanied by the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations, are signs that rapid change is on the horizon.

“The Papua Atlas will show where forest is being cleared on the island and who is responsible for the deforestation,” said David Gaveau, a research associate with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), who demonstrated a prototype of the atlas at the International Conference on Biodiversity, Ecotourism and Creative Economy (ICBE) in Manokwari, Papua, on Oct. 7 to 11, 2018.

The platform, due to launch in mid-2019, will track deforestation on a monthly basis over the long-term.

Local government officials in charge of spatial planning welcome the development of the atlas, which they can use to help plan land use as the local population grows and demand for roads and other services increases in tandem. For example, the annual data provided by the atlas will provide insight into the dynamics of forest loss and the expansion of industrial oil palm concessions, and roads into forested areas.

Old-growth forest in Indonesian Papua shrank by 2 percent, a loss of 600,000 hectares, between 2000 and 2017 (Fig. 1).

Annual forest loss in Indonesian Papua has accelerated gradually since 2000, reaching a peak in both provinces in 2015 and 2016, with 98,000 hectares and 85,000 hectares lost, respectively, before dropping markedly in 2017 (Fig. 1b & c).

Meanwhile, industrial plantations, mainly for oil palm, have nearly quadrupled since 2000, with the largest expansion in Papua province. Gaveau’s studies indicate that about 30 percent of all forest loss since 2000 has been due to clearing for industrial plantations.

Fig 1. Annual loss of forest area from 2001 to 2017 in (a) Indonesian Papua, (b) Papua province (b) and (c) West Papua province.

“The island of New Guinea is perhaps the last large equatorial island that is still pristine,” Gaveau says. “It is still 90 percent natural forest, and it is sparsely populated.”

Because of its distance from key trading routes, Pacific ports and cities, it is expensive to install industrial facilities, such as palm oil refineries in Indonesian Papua. But the island is not immune to the spread of the palm oil industry, which has expanded throughout other islands, such as Borneo.

“As prime land becomes scarce on other islands, companies are turning their eyes to Papua,” Gaveau says.

That’s where the Papua Atlas comes in.

The interactive map is similar to the Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo, also known as the Borneo Atlas, which Gaveau, a landscape ecologist, and Mohammad Agus Salim a Geographic Information Systems expert with CIFOR, developed to monitor deforestation on that island. The Borneo Atlas allows users to verify the location and ownership of more than 460 palm-oil mills on Borneo and monitor deforestation in the surrounding area.

Data about ownership show which companies linked to plantations are encroaching on forests and peat lands.

“The principle of the Papua Atlas is the same,” Gaveau says. “The overarching idea is to hold companies accountable for the deforestation they might have caused, whether or not it is done legally. The idea is that the Indonesian local and national governments can check those deforestation footprints in concessions to review the permits.”

See also: Atlas of deforestation and industrial plantations in Borneo

PLANNING FOR CHANGE

The arrival of industrial plantations is not the only change threatening to transform Papua’s pristine forest landscape. Logging for timber exports is increasing, tailings from a copper mine are destroying mangrove swamps, and people migrating from other islands are swelling urban populations.

As cities and towns expand, residents demand more public services, including better transportation. In planning everything from roads to housing, local government officials will have to assess the many tradeoffs  that inevitably accompany development.

To ensure that the Papua Atlas is especially useful to land-use planners, Gaveau and Salim consulted extensively with local governments.

“New roads are being built to link the provinces of Papua and West Papua, and we know that with roads comes deforestation,” Salim says.

That could jeopardize the livelihoods of the indigenous people who live in the island’s forests and who depend on forest products for food, housing materials, fuel and their livelihoods.

Government officials are taking steps to put the brakes on some undesired impacts.

West Papua was declared a conservation province in October 2015. The government of West Papua has committed to keeping 70 percent of the province’s land under protection.

Only about half the province’s land is currently protected, so the challenge will be to increase that area.

In September 2018, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a three-year moratorium on new oil palm concessions on forest land managed by the national government, although the ban does not apply to forest within existing concessions or forest land controlled by local governments.

The Papua Atlas can help observers determine whether the moratorium is being respected, Gaveau says.

Government officials will also be able to use it to analyze land-use patterns and review licenses for agricultural concessions. Knowing which companies hold concessions and how they are using their land will enable government officials to adjust tax rates, Salim says.

“The atlas can be an important tool for conservation and land management,” he adds.

Read also: New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

A settlement is seen from the air in Papua, Indonesia. Photo by Agus Andrianto/CIFOR

A LOCAL VIEW OF A GLOBAL

As the use of freely accessible platforms for tracking land use becomes more common, the Papua and Borneo atlases stand out for the degree of detail they offer.

Users can see which companies are clear-cutting old-growth forest, how much newly planted areas companies are adding, and where palm producers are moving into sensitive areas such as peat lands, which are crucial for carbon storage. The database also shows corporate relationships among companies, enabling users to better understand the market forces behind deforestation and to track corporations’ zero-deforestation commitments.

The atlas will provide a view of deforestation over time, with animations that show how plantations and roads have expanded, where land has been burned, where new land has been planted, and where forest and landscape restoration are under way.

“It’s important to be able to see both forest loss and the newly planted area, because you can then measure the conversion of forests to plantations,” Gaveau said “If forest was cleared and a plantation was established all within one year, there’s little question that both were the work of the company located in that place.”

The map can also be used to gauge impacts of those changes. When deforestation and planting occur near a river, for example, increased erosion is likely to affect aquatic life and ecosystems downstream.

Gaveau and Salim also hope it will solve a mystery. Deforestation on the island spiked in 2015 and 2016 even though no new concessions were granted in those years, which puzzles local government officials.

The interactive map can also link to platforms and databases developed locally, placing more useful information at the fingertips of local government officials.

“We are trying to develop ways of looking at the data that are important for analyzing impacts and planning for the future,” Gaveau said.

“These interactive platforms that promote corporate accountability and make it possible to trace products to their place of origin are just a start,” he added. “In a few years, we will have intelligent systems that will provide more detailed information, more frequently.”

Not only will that information provide a record of the past, but it will also give a glimpse of what lies ahead.

“Papua is important — it’s the last frontier of Indonesia, and one of the last in the tropical world,” Salim says. “The question is what do its people want for the future?”

The Papua Atlas will provide guideposts in the search for an answer.

By Barbara Fraser, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News.

For more information, contact David Gaveau at [email protected] and Mohammad Agus Salim at [email protected].


The Papua Atlas is being developed with financial assistance from Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID).

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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  • Climate change atlas presents suitability maps for agroforestry species in Central America

Climate change atlas presents suitability maps for agroforestry species in Central America

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Trees surround the perimeter of a rice paddy in South East Asia. Photo by ICRAF

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in collaboration with Bioversity International and the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) recently published an atlas titled Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates

The atlas presents current and future suitability maps for 54 species that are commonly used as shade in agroforestry systems in Central America. The 54 species that were selected include 24 species of fruit trees, 24 timber trees and six species used to improve soil conditions.

The work was made possible through the financial support of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which are supported by CGIAR Fund Donors, and of HIVOS.

Read more: Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates: an atlas

“The main objective of the atlas is to address a current knowledge gap in detailed information about suitable areas for key agroforestry species in Central America,” said Kauê de Sousa of Bioversity International, who is the main author of the study.

“The agroforestry practice of integrating trees within cocoa or coffee, silvopastoral or smallholder timber systems is key to the development of strategies for climate-smart agriculture in the region. It is important to know where a species remains suitable under future climatic conditions to be able to give practical advice to farmers and tree growers.”

The atlas addresses this knowledge gap by providing detailed suitability maps for each species. Detailed mapping was possible by substantially expanding previously available data sets of known presence locations (locations where a species was documented to be suitable in Latin America and the Caribbean) and by applying powerful species distribution modelling methods.

An agroforestry site is pictured in Vietnam. Photo by ICRAF

The future climates correspond to Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 for the 2050s. Four RCPs (2.6, 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5) were introduced in the latest assessment report of the IPCC. These scenarios describe possible future climates that depend on potential changes in greenhouse gas emissions. RCP 4.5 represents an intermediate emissions scenario, whereas RCP 8.5 is a high emissions scenario.

Ensemble suitability methods were applied using the BiodiversityR package, an open-source software package developed by Roeland Kindt, a senior ecologist at ICRAF and one of the coauthors of the atlas. The software modelled species distributions with bioclimatic variables obtained from WorldClim for the baseline climate (1960–1990). Distribution maps for the middle of the 21st century were obtained via future climate data generated by 17 global climate change models.

Ensemble future distribution maps for each RCP are based on consensus among 17 future distribution maps generated for each species. Maps projecting future distribution were compared with the current distribution maps to evaluate the potential changes in the distribution of each species.

Read also: Agroforestry to meet the Paris Agreement

Reflecting on the results, Maarten van Zonneveld of Bioversity International, a scientist in diversity analysis for conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources, said the results indicated that the modelled distribution for 30 species reduces under both climate change scenarios.

The most threatened species include N-fixing ice-cream bean trees (Inga spp.), the delicious cherimoya (Annona cherimola), the economically important avocado (Persea americana), and the solid timber species Handroanthus ochraceus. Ten species are expected to increase their distribution under both climate change scenarios including the underutilized fruit species Averrhoa bilimbi, coconut (Cocos nucifera), cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco), Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) and the majestic rain-tree (Albizia saman).

Jenny Ordonez of ICRAF and a specialist in agroforestry systems and functional ecology emphasized that “the atlas provides a first approximation of this kind in the region, to assess which species might be vulnerable or tolerant to expected climate change. Agroforestry practices are one of the main strategies for developing climate smart agriculture and as such are widely advocated by research and development organizations alike in this region. The results of the atlas are therefore an important tool to support the design of agroforestry practices taking into account potential impacts of climate change. The maps provided should be used in combination with other information sources from technicians and farmers to fine-tune the selection of species for designing climate proof agroforestry systems.”

Jonathan Cornelius, regional coordinator from ICRAF, concluded that “many of the trees that farmers are planting and managing now will need to remain productive up to and beyond 2050. This important publication provides a firm foundation for building the climate-smart agroforestry that farmers need, based on the best currently available information about future climates and species’ requirements.”

Originally published by ICRAF


This work forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

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  • Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates: an atlas

Suitability of key Central American agroforestry species under future climates: an atlas

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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

This atlas provides habitat suitability maps for 54 species that are widely used in Central America for shade in coffee or cocoa agroforestry systems. The 54 species represent 24 fruit species, 24 timber species and 6 species used for soil fertility improvement. Suitability maps correspond to the baseline climate (1960-1990) and 2050 climates predicted for Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5. Habitat was classified as suitable in future climates if a minimum of 12 out of 17 downscaled Global Circulation Models predicted suitable climates. Details of the methodology of ensemble suitability modelling with the BiodiversityR package are provided in the atlas.

The atlas was developed to support climate change oriented initiatives for diversification and conservation of forest genetic resources across Central America. Farmers, scientists and technicians can use the atlas to identify suitable and vulnerable areas for shade species and develop strategies for climate change adaptation.

This work was possible with the financial support of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which are supported by CGIAR Fund Donors, and of HIVOS. The authors of the atlas are scientists of Bioversity International, CATIE and the World Agroforestry Centre.

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  • New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

A woman begin to harvest oil palm fruit in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR
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FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman begin to harvest oil palm fruit in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

The updated Borneo Atlas offers new data to measure the impact of mills and plantations on forests.

In 2013, a number of major palm-oil buyers, traders and producers promised to stop clearing natural forests. The global multi-billion-dollar business of palm oil is among the world’s most controversial agro-industries. It has been implicated in numerous cases where species- and carbon-rich forests have been cleared, yet it also contributes to the elimination of poverty in producer countries.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top two producers of palm oil. Their area of industrial plantations more than quadrupled in extent from 1990 to 2015. Over the same period, regional rates of forest loss rose to among the world’s highest. Forest clearance is driven by a number of factors — establishing plantations is one factor. The development of mills and associated infrastructure to extract and transport palm oil also impacts forests.

The latest version of the Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo, or what we call the Borneo Atlas, part of the work of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) launched this week allows users to verify the location and ownership of 467 palm-oil mills in Borneo, the island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. It includes a new tool called Analyze Land Use near Mills to provide verified information on the location of palm-oil mills, and the deforested area within a 10-kilometer radius, as detected annually by satellites.

The new tool can be used together with an earlier tool called Analyze Land Use in Concessions, to track the footprint of palm-oil growers on forests. It links the company-driven forest loss (i.e. the forest area converted each year to industrial plantations) detected annually using satellites with publicly available concession maps. Combined, these two tools are useful for the increasing number of palm-oil buyers, traders and government officials who have begun tracing supply chains to mills and plantations. Buyers are currently focusing their attention on traceability to mills, because the location of a mill is a good indicator of the approximate location of its supplier.

Understanding where mills and plantations are is also useful to better understand the overall impact of industrial palm-oil developments on tropical rainforests.

Try it: Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo

ADDED FEATURES

Via the interactive map, users can zoom in on a 10-kilometer radius of each mill — the distance fresh palm fruit can travel without spoiling. The actual distance that fruit has travelled to reach the mill in fact vary depending on commercial agreements, road networks and terrain, and does not fall into a perfect disc around the mill.

However, this simplified added feature does offer a more complete view of the impacts of industry on forests. Users can rank concessions and mills by recent clearing, and access statistics on forest health and land use. They can visualize poorest and best performing mills and concessions by company, soil type (peat and non-peat), by remaining forest area, and by type of certification.

The idea is to offer the opportunity to investigate to what extent plantation companies have cleared forests in Borneo, and to what extent they have avoided forest loss by planting on non-forested lands. Understanding where companies practice sustainable planting is key to engaging and promoting positive actions by companies.

We developed this dataset by reviewing online documentation on company dashboards, NGO websites, certification agencies (RSPO and ISPO), mapping websites and social media. The source documents for these data are linked in the results of each search so they can be consulted by users. A link to the mills’ location on high-resolution imagery from Google Maps and ArcGIS World Imagery is also provided for each search, to prove that the mill exists.

Future developments will include linking mills to supplier plantations, to ports and refineries, and incorporating time-lapses to reveal how industrial oil palm has expanded.

Read more: What a difference 4 decades make: Deforestation in Borneo since 1973

Individual oil palm fruits are seen in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

AN INDUSTRIAL-SCALE ISSUE

Palm oil is produced by industrial means. It is in everything from cosmetics to processed food, and biofuels to drive cars. It requires extensive infrastructure, including processing mills and refineries. Ultimately, huge tankers ship the oil to every corner of the globe.

Oil palm isn’t the only industrial crop. Today, most of the world’s food production and supply is done by industrial means. Industrial agriculture is a system of chemically intensive food production, featuring gigantic single-crop farms and production facilities, controlled by large conglomerates.

Intensive monoculture depletes soil and leaves it vulnerable to erosion. Herbicides and insecticides harm wildlife and people. Biodiversity in and near monoculture fields takes a hit, as populations of birds and beneficial insects decline. In fact, the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years in the European countryside because of industrial agriculture, according to a new study.

In the humid tropics, industrial production of palm oil, soy, pulpwood and beef depletes biodiversity by being responsible for between 35% and 68% of all tropical forest loss.

Rates of forest loss and oil-palm developments are particularly marked on Borneo. Forest losses averaged 350,000 hectares annually from 2001 to 2016, while by 2016 the area of industrial oil palm plantations reached 8.3 million hectares (Mha) — about half of the estimated global planted area of 18 Mha. From 2005 to 2015, the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations was responsible for 50 percent (2.1 Mha) of all of Borneo’s old-growth forest area loss (4.2 Mha).

Tools like the Borneo Atlas, and its new feature to assess the impact of mills, aim to equip governments, NGOS and companies with the capacity to see the full impact of industrial agriculture on forests, and to act accordingly to bring the rate of forest loss in their supply chains down to zero.

Read more: For a better Borneo, new map reveals how much terrain has changed

By David Gaveau and Mohammad Agus Salim, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


For more information on this topic, please contact David Gaveau at [email protected] or Mohammad A. Salim at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Home
  • New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

New map helps track palm-oil supply chains in Borneo

A woman begin to harvest oil palm fruit in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR
Posted by

FTA COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

A woman begin to harvest oil palm fruit in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

The updated Borneo Atlas offers new data to measure the impact of mills and plantations on forests.

In 2013, a number of major palm-oil buyers, traders and producers promised to stop clearing natural forests. The global multi-billion-dollar business of palm oil is among the world’s most controversial agro-industries. It has been implicated in numerous cases where species- and carbon-rich forests have been cleared, yet it also contributes to the elimination of poverty in producer countries.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s top two producers of palm oil. Their area of industrial plantations more than quadrupled in extent from 1990 to 2015. Over the same period, regional rates of forest loss rose to among the world’s highest. Forest clearance is driven by a number of factors — establishing plantations is one factor. The development of mills and associated infrastructure to extract and transport palm oil also impacts forests.

The latest version of the Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo, or what we call the Borneo Atlas, part of the work of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA) launched this week allows users to verify the location and ownership of 467 palm-oil mills in Borneo, the island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. It includes a new tool called Analyze Land Use near Mills to provide verified information on the location of palm-oil mills, and the deforested area within a 10-kilometer radius, as detected annually by satellites.

The new tool can be used together with an earlier tool called Analyze Land Use in Concessions, to track the footprint of palm-oil growers on forests. It links the company-driven forest loss (i.e. the forest area converted each year to industrial plantations) detected annually using satellites with publicly available concession maps. Combined, these two tools are useful for the increasing number of palm-oil buyers, traders and government officials who have begun tracing supply chains to mills and plantations. Buyers are currently focusing their attention on traceability to mills, because the location of a mill is a good indicator of the approximate location of its supplier.

Understanding where mills and plantations are is also useful to better understand the overall impact of industrial palm-oil developments on tropical rainforests.

Try it: Atlas of Deforestation and Industrial Plantations in Borneo

ADDED FEATURES

Via the interactive map, users can zoom in on a 10-kilometer radius of each mill — the distance fresh palm fruit can travel without spoiling. The actual distance that fruit has travelled to reach the mill in fact vary depending on commercial agreements, road networks and terrain, and does not fall into a perfect disc around the mill.

However, this simplified added feature does offer a more complete view of the impacts of industry on forests. Users can rank concessions and mills by recent clearing, and access statistics on forest health and land use. They can visualize poorest and best performing mills and concessions by company, soil type (peat and non-peat), by remaining forest area, and by type of certification.

The idea is to offer the opportunity to investigate to what extent plantation companies have cleared forests in Borneo, and to what extent they have avoided forest loss by planting on non-forested lands. Understanding where companies practice sustainable planting is key to engaging and promoting positive actions by companies.

We developed this dataset by reviewing online documentation on company dashboards, NGO websites, certification agencies (RSPO and ISPO), mapping websites and social media. The source documents for these data are linked in the results of each search so they can be consulted by users. A link to the mills’ location on high-resolution imagery from Google Maps and ArcGIS World Imagery is also provided for each search, to prove that the mill exists.

Future developments will include linking mills to supplier plantations, to ports and refineries, and incorporating time-lapses to reveal how industrial oil palm has expanded.

Read more: What a difference 4 decades make: Deforestation in Borneo since 1973

Individual oil palm fruits are seen in Kalimantan. Photo by I. Cooke Vieira/CIFOR

AN INDUSTRIAL-SCALE ISSUE

Palm oil is produced by industrial means. It is in everything from cosmetics to processed food, and biofuels to drive cars. It requires extensive infrastructure, including processing mills and refineries. Ultimately, huge tankers ship the oil to every corner of the globe.

Oil palm isn’t the only industrial crop. Today, most of the world’s food production and supply is done by industrial means. Industrial agriculture is a system of chemically intensive food production, featuring gigantic single-crop farms and production facilities, controlled by large conglomerates.

Intensive monoculture depletes soil and leaves it vulnerable to erosion. Herbicides and insecticides harm wildlife and people. Biodiversity in and near monoculture fields takes a hit, as populations of birds and beneficial insects decline. In fact, the abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years in the European countryside because of industrial agriculture, according to a new study.

In the humid tropics, industrial production of palm oil, soy, pulpwood and beef depletes biodiversity by being responsible for between 35% and 68% of all tropical forest loss.

Rates of forest loss and oil-palm developments are particularly marked on Borneo. Forest losses averaged 350,000 hectares annually from 2001 to 2016, while by 2016 the area of industrial oil palm plantations reached 8.3 million hectares (Mha) — about half of the estimated global planted area of 18 Mha. From 2005 to 2015, the expansion of industrial oil palm plantations was responsible for 50 percent (2.1 Mha) of all of Borneo’s old-growth forest area loss (4.2 Mha).

Tools like the Borneo Atlas, and its new feature to assess the impact of mills, aim to equip governments, NGOS and companies with the capacity to see the full impact of industrial agriculture on forests, and to act accordingly to bring the rate of forest loss in their supply chains down to zero.

Read more: For a better Borneo, new map reveals how much terrain has changed

By David Gaveau and Mohammad Agus Salim, originally published at CIFOR’s Forests News


For more information on this topic, please contact David Gaveau at [email protected] or Mohammad A. Salim at [email protected].

This research forms part of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, which is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors

This research was supported by UK aid from the UK government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


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