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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 22;5(9):e12813. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012813.

Unexpected ecological resilience in Bornean orangutans and implications for pulp and paper plantation management.

Author information

  • 1People and Nature Consulting International, Jakarta, Indonesia. emeijaard@pnc-int.com

Abstract

Ecological studies of orangutans have almost exclusively focused on populations living in primary or selectively logged rainforest. The response of orangutans to severe habitat degradation remains therefore poorly understood. Most experts assume that viable populations cannot survive outside undisturbed or slightly disturbed forests. This is a concern because nearly 75% of all orangutans live outside protected areas, where degradation of natural forests is likely to occur, or where these are replaced by planted forests. To improve our understanding of orangutan survival in highly altered forest habitats, we conducted population density surveys in two pulp and paper plantation concessions in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. These plantations consist of areas planted with fast-growing exotics intermixed with stands of highly degraded forests and scrublands. Our rapid surveys indicate unexpectedly high orangutan densities in plantation landscapes dominated by Acacia spp., although it remains unclear whether such landscapes can maintain long-term viable populations. These findings indicate the need to better understand how plantation-dominated landscapes can potentially be incorporated into orangutan conservation planning. Although we emphasize that plantations have less value for overall biodiversity conservation than natural forests, they could potentially boost the chances of orangutan survival. Our findings are based on a relatively short study and various methodological issues need to be addressed, but they suggest that orangutans may be more ecologically flexible than previously thought.

PMID:
20877646
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2943906
Free PMC Article

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