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David L.A.GaveauaLucasSantosbcBrunoLocatellidMohammad A.SalimaHusnayaenHusnayaenaErikMeijaardefCharlieHeatubunghiDouglasSheiljkaTheTreeMap, Bagadou Bas, 46600 Martel, FrancebDepartment of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA, USAcInstituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, Brasília DF 71.503-505, BrazildCIRAD Forests and Societies, Univ Montpellier, 34398 Montpellier, FranceeBorneo Futures, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei DarussalamfDurrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, Canterbury, UKgRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW93AE, UKhFakultas Kehutanan, Universitas Papua, Jl. Gunung Salju, Amban, Manokwari 98314, IndonesiaiBadan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Daerah Provinsi Papua Barat, Jl. Brig. Jend. Mar. (Purn.) Abraham O. Atururi, Arfai, Manokwari, Papua Barat 98315, IndonesiajDepartment of Ecology and Natural Resource Management (INA), Norwegian University of Life Science (NMBU), Box 5003, 1432 Ås, NorwaykForest Ecology and Forest Management Group, Wageningen University & Research, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

Received 11 February 2021, Revised 24 May 2021, Accepted 21 June 2021, Available online 8 July 2021.

Abstract

The rich forests of Indonesian New Guinea are understudied and threatened. We used satellite data to examine annual forest loss, road development and plantation expansion from 2001 to 2019, then developed a model to predict future deforestation. No previous studies have attempted such a detailed assessment of past and future deforestation. In 2019, 34.29 million hectares (Mha), or 83% of Indonesian New Guinea, supported old-growth forest. Over nineteen years, 2% (0.75 Mha) were cleared: 45% (0.34 Mha) converted to industrial plantations, roads, mine tailings, or other uses near cities; 55% (0.41 Mha) cleared by transient processes including selective natural timber extraction, inland water bodies-related processes, fires, and shifting agriculture. Industrial plantations expanded by 0.23 Mha, with the majority (0.21 Mha; 28% of forest loss) replacing forests and reaching 0.28 Mha in 2019 (97% oil palm; 3% pulpwood). The Trans-Papua Highway, a ~4000 km national investment project, increased by 1554 km. Positive correlations between highway and plantations expansion indicate these are linked processes. Plantations and roads expanded rapidly after 2011, peaked in 2015/16, and declined thereafter. Indonesian government allocated 2.62 Mha of land for the development of industrial plantations (90% oil palm 10% pulpwood) of which 74% (1.95 Mha) remained forest in 2019. A spatial model predicts that an additional 4.5 Mha of forest could be cleared by 2036 if Indonesian New Guinea follows similar relationships to Indonesian Borneo. We highlight the opportunities for policy reform and the importance of working with indigenous communities, local leaders, and provincial government to protect the biological and cultural richness still embodied in this remarkable region.