Future Forest Loss and its Impacts on Connectivity in Peninsular Malaysia’s Tiger Landscape

Authors: Varada Shevade*, , Joanne Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, Tatiana Loboda, University of Maryland, College Park
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Animal Geographies, Landscape
Keywords: conservation, forest loss, connectivity, Malaysia, tiger,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Habitat loss and fragmentation threaten the Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksonii), a critically endangered subspecies of the tiger endemic to the Malay Peninsula. Recent estimates suggest a population of only about 250 - 340 adults and a population decline of >25% in about 7 years. Malayan tigers mainly exist in three landscapes, the Belum-Temengor forest complex, Greater Taman Negara forest complex and the Endau Rompin-Sedili forest complex. Long-term viability of tigers requires not only the protection of core habitat patches but also maintenance of linkages connecting habitat patches. The National Tiger Conservation Action Plan (NTCAP) has the vision to maintain tiger populations within an interconnected Central Forest Spine (CFS). The CFS is envisioned as a network of forest complexes connected via green linkages that forms a contiguous forest spine through the center of the Peninsula. We used previously mapped forest loss to model deforestation probability and developed scenarios of future forest loss 5 years post-2016. Further, we used the projected patterns of forest loss to assess connectivity within the remaining forests for tigers and compared it with connectivity in 2016. Our results suggest that projected loss is likely to cause loss in connectivity especially in areas along the Southeastern coast. Additionally, the linkages that are most important to retain connectivity with the southern forests change with persistent loss. The results highlight the importance of preventing deforestation to continue to maintain connectivity within the landscape and to achieve the vision of interconnected forests for tiger conservation.

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