Cost-effective conservation: Calculating biodiversity and logging trade-offs in Southeast Asia

Brendan Fisher, David P. Edwards, Trond H. Larsen, Felicity A. Ansell, Wayne W. Hsu, Carter S. Roberts, David S. Wilcove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The Sundaland Biodiversity Hotspot of Southeast Asia is widely regarded as one of the most imperiled biodiversity hotspots due to high degrees of endemism coupled with extensive logging and forest conversion to oil palm. The large financial returns to these activities have made it difficult to conserve much of the region's lowland primary forest, suggesting a large trade-off between economic interests and biodiversity conservation. Here, we provide an empirical examination of the magnitude of this trade-off in Borneo. By incorporating both financial values and biodiversity responses across logging regimes, we show that selectively logged forests represent a surprisingly low-cost option for conserving high levels of biodiversity. In our study, the standing value of timber dropped from ∼$10,460 ha-1 to ∼$2,010 ha-1 after two logging rotations, yet these forests retained over 75% of bird and dung beetle species found in primary unlogged forest. We suggest that the conservation of selectively logged forests represents a highly cost-efficient opportunity to enlarge existing protected areas, improve connectivity between them, and to create new, large protected areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-450
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • Biodiversity conservation
  • Birds
  • Borneo
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Dung beetles
  • Forest degradation
  • Logging


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