Deforestation in an African biodiversity hotspot: extent, variation and the effectiveness of protected areas


The Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania show exceptional endemism that is threatened by high anthro- pogenic pressure leading to the loss of natural habitat. Using a novel habitat conversion model, we pres- ent a spatially explicit analysis of the predictors of forest and woodland conversion in the Eastern Arc over 25 years. Our results show that 5% (210 km 2 ) of evergreen forest and 43% (2060 km 2 ) of miombo woodland was lost in the Eastern Arc Mountains between 1975 and 2000. Important predictors of habitat conversion included distance to natural habitat edge, topography and measures of remoteness. The main conservation strategy in these mountains for the past 100 years has been to develop a network of pro- tected areas. These appear to have reduced rates of habitat loss and most remaining evergreen forest is now within protected areas. However, the majority of miombo woodland, an important source of eco- system services, lies outside formal protected areas, where additional conservation strategies may be needed.



Tanzania, Eastern Arc Mountains, Tropical forest, Miombo woodland, Generalised additive models, Habitat conversion