A good ‘fellow’ for tropical rainforests

Sugeng Budiharta (on the left) counting epiphytic orchids in Indonesian forests.

Sugeng Budiharta (on the left) counting epiphytic orchids in Indonesian forests.

Sugeng Budiharta is passionate about conserving biodiversity and restoring tropical forest, and in particular the forests of Indonesia, his country of origin. That’s why he chose to undertake a PhD at the University of Queensland and work with CEED in trying to understand the trade-offs between different types of forest restoration.

It’s often said that the restoration of degraded tropical forests is a win-win situation in which biodiversity can be enhanced and greater amounts of carbon can be stored in the vegetation and soils. But such a characterisation overlooks the fact the places you might undertake restoration (revegetation) to maximise carbon storage aren’t necessarily the same as the places you would restore to improve wildlife habitat.

Sugeng led an analysis that systematically prioritised investments in restoration in the tropical landscape of East Kalimantan, Indonesia (Budiharta et al, 2014). He found that when the objective is solely to enhance carbon stocks, then restoration of highly degraded lowland forest is the most cost-effective activity. However, if the objective is to improve the habitat of threatened species, multiple forest types should be restored and this reduces the accumulated carbon by up to 24%. Their analysis framework provides a transparent method for prioritizing where and how restoration should occur in heterogeneous landscapes in order to maximize the benefits for carbon and biodiversity.

Sounds like Sugeng would be good ‘fellow’ to have around in any effort assessing biodiversity, land degradation and restoration. Therefore it comes as no surprise that he’s just been selected by the IPBES Young Fellows Programme. See p14.


Budiharta S, E Meijaard, PD Erskine, C Rondinini, M Pacifici & KA Wilson (2014). Restoring degraded tropical forests for carbon and biodiversity. Environmental Research Letter 9 http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/11/114020/

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