Forest gain doesn’t stop forest fragmentation in China

Most studies exploring habitat fragmentation effect on biodiversity were conducted at the local or regional level. These studies generally ignored background information (e.g. history, drivers and dynamics) of forest fragmentation which is critical for biodiversity conservation at large scales (e.g. national scale). Hence, these studies provided little practical implications for forest management in fragmented landscapes. Thanks to the rapid development of remote sensing technology, forest fragmentation maps are increasingly available to biodiversity studies.

Using forest in China as a case study, we found that forest gains under China’s green policies have not entirely stopped fragmentation of natural forests. Road constructions and urbanisation are becoming the most influential drivers of forest fragmentation in recent decades. Currently, most fragmentation studies focus on old-growth forests, while the dominant forest type, secondary forest fragments, have received little attention. Most of forest fragments in China are small, isolated and in resources-poor regions, in other words, that are not optimal habitats for resident species. Large, long‐term projects which monitor spatiotemporal changes in forest cover and biodiversity are needed to address the question related to long term effects of forest fragmentation.

Forest fragmentation is still common in regions with forest gains

Our research suggests that government policy should not only focus on forest cover, it is vital to increase forest quality to maintain biodiversity.

Link to paper

This project was completed while Jiajia Liu was a visiting postdoctoral researcher in Coomes lab, and David has invested a huge amount of time and efforts on this project.

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