Megadiverse hotspots under threat from logging

Areas currently facing the highest deforestation rates on our planet, have been identified as having been particularly important in the evolutionary history of the ‘megadiverse’ biodiversity of Southeast Asia.

In a study published in the journal Systematic Biology (Borneo and Indochina are Major Evolutionary Hotspots for Southeast Asian Biodiversity accessible online early: 28th July, 2014), Dr Mark de Bruyn of Bangor University, and several international collaborators, have brought together a large amount of geological, climatic and biological data to identify geographic areas that have been particularly important in the evolutionary history of the exceptionally diverse fauna and flora of Southeast Asia. Borneo, in particular, was highlighted in this study.

The deforestation that is occurring in lowland rainforest areas of Borneo, in particular, largely due to the expansion of oil palm plantations, places the biodiversity there under extreme threat of extinction.

de Bruyn and colleagues concluded that: “Accelerated efforts to conserve Borneo's flora and fauna in particular, currently housing the highest levels of Southeast Asian plant and mammal species richness, are critically required.”

“High priority conservation areas in Borneo envisaged under the current ‘Heart of Borneo’ agreement between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei fail to adequately protect extensive areas of lowland rainforest, which harbour the highest levels of diversity. Losing further large areas of forested land to development in this region will result in the irreplaceable loss of the primary refuge area for the entire Sunda Shelf region.”

Publication date: 7 August 2014