Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 789–801 | Cite as

Optimized Floating Refugia: a new strategy for species conservation in production forest landscapes

  • Benjamin S. Ramage
  • Justin Kitzes
  • Elaina C. Marshalek
  • Matthew D. Potts
Original Paper


Timber production forests can support diverse ecological communities, but existing conservation strategies fail to maximize this potential. While methods for limiting logging damage and locating biological reserves have been developed, strategies focused on the sequence and arrangement of harvest units are lacking, particularly for situations in which species-specific knowledge is limited. We present a new landscape-level approach to forest conservation that anticipates local extinctions and focuses on facilitating re-colonization via strategic spatiotemporal harvest plans (which are informed by species occurrence data only). As a proof of concept, we applied our framework to data from four tropical forest sites and found clear benefits of optimized spatiotemporal harvest plans relative to non-optimized harvest plans (random and three pattern-based plans). Our proposed approach, termed the Optimized Floating Refugia strategy, requires minimal species-specific knowledge and can be used to enhance existing conservation efforts (e.g. biological reserve establishment, reduced-impact logging). The approach effectively prioritizes logging-sensitive habitat specialists with restricted ranges and thus provides the largest benefits to the most extinction-prone species. This simple but novel method shows promise as a general strategy to improve biodiversity conservation in species-rich production forest landscapes.


Biodiversity Forest management Landscape-level planning Logging Spatiotemporal harvest planning Tropical forest 



We thank D. Sheil and K. L. O’Hara for valuable feedback prior to manuscript submission, and the Center for Tropical Forest Science for providing data from their research plots (see Supplementary Online Resource 1 for extended acknowledgements). This research was funded by the Global Environment Facility through UNDP Malaysia (MAL/04/G31) and the International Tropical Timber Organization [PD 16502 Rev.3 (F)], with in-kind financial assistance and support from the Government of Malaysia through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Forest Research Institute Malaysia.

Supplementary material

10531_2013_453_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (138 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 138 kb)


  1. Arponen A, Heikkinen RK, Thomas CD, Moilanen A (2005) The value of biodiversity in reserve selection: representation, species weighting, and benefit functions. Conserv Biol 19:2009–2014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arponen A, Moilanen A, Ferrier S (2008) A successful community-level strategy for conservation prioritization. J Appl Ecol 45:1436–1445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnosky AD, Matzke N, Tomiya S, Wogan GOU, Swartz B, Quental TB, Marshall C, McGuire JL, Lindsey EL, Maguire KC, Mersey B, Ferrer EA (2011) Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471:51–57PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baskent EZ, Keles S (2005) Spatial forest planning: a review. Ecol Model 188:145–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berry NJ, Phillips OL, Lewis SL, Hill JK, Edwards DP, Tawatao NB, Ahmad N, Magintan D, Khen CV, Maryati M, Ong RC, Hamer KC (2010) The high value of logged tropical forests: lessons from northern Borneo. Biodivers Conserv 19:985–997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blaser J, Sarre A, Poore D, Johnson S (2011) Status of tropical forest management. ITTO Technical Series No 38, YokohamaGoogle Scholar
  7. Boyd C, Brooks TM, Butchart SHM, Edgar GJ, Da Fonseca GAB, Hawkins F, Hoffmann M, Sechrest W, Stuart SN, Van Dijk PP (2008) Spatial scale and the conservation of threatened species. Conserv Lett 1:37–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brooks TM, Wright SJ, Sheil D (2009) Evaluating the success of conservation actions in safeguarding tropical forest biodiversity. Conserv Biol 23:1448–1457PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Butler RA, Koh LP, Ghazoul J (2009) REDD in the red: palm oil could undermine carbon payment schemes. Conserv Lett 2:67–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chazdon RL, Peres CA, Dent D, Sheil D, Lugo AE, Lamb D, Stork NE, Miller SE (2009) The potential for species conservation in tropical secondary forests. Conserv Biol 23:1406–1417PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Condit R (1998) Tropical forest census plots. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Constantino M, Martins I, Borges JG (2008) A new mixed-integer programming model for harvest scheduling subject to maximum area restrictions. Oper Res 56:542–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cotterill FPD, Foissner W (2010) A pervasive denigration of natural history misconstrues how biodiversity inventories and taxonomy underpin scientific knowledge. Biodivers Conserv 19:291–303PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cushman SA, McKelvey KS, Flather CH, McGarigal K (2008) Do forest community types provide a sufficient basis to evaluate biological diversity? Front Ecol Environ 6:13–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dent DH, Wright SJ (2009) The future of tropical species in secondary forests: a quantitative review. Biol Conserv 142:2833–2843CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. DeWoody YD, Feng Z, Swihart RK (2005) Merging spatial and temporal structure within a metapopulation model. Am Nat 166:42–55PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Drechsler M, Johst K (2010) Rapid viability analysis for metapopulations in dynamic habitat networks. Proc R Soc B 277:1889–1897PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. FAO (2010) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010—main report. FAO Forestry Paper 163. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Fisher B, Edwards DP, Larsen TH, Ansell FA, Hsu WW, Roberts CS, Wilcove DS (2011) Cost-effective conservation: calculating biodiversity and logging trade-offs in Southeast Asia. Conserv Lett 4:443–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) (2010) FSC Forest Stewardship Standards: structure, content and suggested indicators. FSC-GUI-60-004 (V1-0) ENGoogle Scholar
  21. Fredericksen TS, Pena-Claros M (2007) Protected reserves within tropical forests managed for timber production: recommendations using Bolivia as a case study. Int For Rev 9:835–841Google Scholar
  22. Ghazoul J, Sheil D (2010) Tropical rain forest ecology, diversity, and conservation. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  23. Ghiyamat A, Shafri HZM (2010) A review on hyperspectral remote sensing for homogeneous and heterogeneous forest biodiversity assessment. Int J Remote Sens 31:1837–1856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gibson L, Lee TM, Koh LP, Brook BW, Gardner TA, Barlow J, Peres CA, Bradshaw CJA, Laurance WF, Lovejoy TE, Sodhi NS (2011) Primary forests are irreplaceable for sustaining tropical biodiversity. Nature 478:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hanski I (1999) Metapopulation ecology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. Hof JG, Raphael MG (1993) Some mathematical programming approaches for optimizing timber age-class distributions to meet multispecies wildlife population objectives. Can J For Res 23:829–834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hof J, Bevers M, Joyce L, Kent B (1994) An integer programming approach for spatially and temporally optimizing wildlife populations. For Sci 40:177–191Google Scholar
  28. Hubbell SP, Foster RB, O’Brien ST, Harms KE, Condit R, Wechsler B, Wright SJ, de Lao SL (1999) Light gap disturbances, recruitment limitation, and tree diversity in a neotropical forest. Science 283:554–557PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hubbell SP, Condit R, Foster RB (2005) Barro Colorado forest census plot data. Accessed 3 Feb 2012
  30. International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)/International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2009) ITTO/IUCN guidelines for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in tropical timber production forests. ITTO Policy Development Series No. 17. YokohamaGoogle Scholar
  31. Jetz W, McPherson JM, Guralnick RP (2012) Integrating biodiversity distribution knowledge: toward a global map of life. Trends Ecol Evol 27:151–159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Johst K, Drechsler M (2003) Are spatially correlated or uncorrelated disturbance regimes better for the survival of species? Oikos 103:449–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Johst K, Drechsler M, van Teeffelen AJA, Hartig F, Vos CC, Wissel S, Wätzold F, Opdam P (2011) Biodiversity conservation in dynamic landscapes: trade-offs between number, connectivity and turnover of habitat patches. J Appl Ecol 48:1227–1235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kleyer M, Biedermann R, Henle K, Obermaier E, Poethke H-J, Poschlod P, Schröder B, Settele J, Vetterlein D (2007) Mosaic cycles in agricultural landscapes of Northwest Europe. Basic Appl Ecol 8:295–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kurttila M (2001) The spatial structure of forests in the optimization calculations of forest planning—a landscape ecological perspective. For Ecol Manag 142:129–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lindenmayer DB, Likens GE (2010) Direct measurement versus surrogate indicator species for evaluating environmental change and biodiversity loss. Ecosystems 14:47–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meijaard E, Sheil D (2007) A logged forest in Borneo is better than none at all. Nature 446:974PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nicholson E, Westphal MI, Frank K, Rochester WA, Pressey RL, Lindenmayer DB, Possingham HP (2006) A new method for conservation planning for the persistence of multiple species. Ecol Lett 9:1049–1060PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Öhman K, Edenius L, Mikusiński G (2011) Optimizing spatial habitat suitability and timber revenue in long-term forest planning. Can J For Res 41:543–551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Peres CA (2011) Conservation in sustainable-use tropical forest reserves. Conserv Biol 25:1124–1129PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pressey RL, Cabeza M, Watts ME, Cowling RM, Wilson KA (2007) Conservation planning in a changing world. Trends Ecol Evol 22:583–592PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Putz FE, Sist P, Fredericksen T, Dykstra D (2008) Reduced-impact logging: challenges and opportunities. For Ecol Manag 256:1427–1433CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Putz FE, Zuidema PA, Synnott T, Peña-Claros M, Pinard MA, Sheil D, Vanclay JK, Sist P, Gourlet-Fleury S, Griscom B, Palmer J, Zagt R (2012) Sustaining conservation values in selectively logged tropical forests: the attained and the attainable. Conserv Lett 5:296–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ramage BS, Sheil D, Salim HMW, Fletcher C, Mustafa N-ZA, Luruthusamay JC, Harrison RD, Butod E, Dzulkiply AD, Kassim AR, Potts MD (2013) Pseudoreplication in tropical forests and the resulting effects on biodiversity conservation. Conserv Biol. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12004 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Rodrigues ASL, Brooks TM (2007) Shortcuts for biodiversity conservation planning: the effectiveness of surrogates. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 38:713–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sarkar S, Pressey RL, Faith DP, Margules CR, Fuller T, Stoms DM, Moffett A, Wilson KA, Williams KJ, Williams PH, Andelman S (2006) Biodiversity conservation planning tools: present status and challenges for the future. Annu Rev Environ Resour 31:123–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schulte LA, Mitchell RJ, Hunter ML, Franklin JF, Kevin McIntyre R, Palik BJ (2006) Evaluating the conceptual tools for forest biodiversity conservation and their implementation in the U.S. For Ecol Manag 232:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sodhi NS, Koh LP, Clements R, Wanger TC, Hill JK, Hamer KC, Clough Y, Tscharntke T, Posa MRC, Lee TM (2010) Conserving Southeast Asian forest biodiversity in human-modified landscapes. Biol Conserv 143:2375–2384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Soininen J, McDonald R, Hillebrand H (2007) The distance decay of similarity in ecological communities. Ecography 30:3–12Google Scholar
  50. Vandermeer J, Perfecto I, Schellhorn N (2010) Propagating sinks, ephemeral sources and percolating mosaics: conservation in landscapes. Landsc Ecol 25:509–518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Vernooy R, Haribabu E, Muller MR, Vogel JH, Hebert PDN, Schindel DE, Shimura J, Singer GAC (2010) Barcoding life to conserve biological diversity: beyond the taxonomic imperative. PLoS Biol 8:e1000417PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Williams JC, ReVelle CS, Levin SA (2005) Spatial attributes and reserve design models: a review. Environ Model Assess 10:163–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wimberly MC (2006) Species dynamics in disturbed landscapes: when does a shifting habitat mosaic enhance connectivity? Landsc Ecol 21:35–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zimmerman BL, Kormos CF (2012) Prospects for sustainable logging in tropical forests. BioScience 62:479–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin S. Ramage
    • 1
  • Justin Kitzes
    • 1
  • Elaina C. Marshalek
    • 1
  • Matthew D. Potts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations