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Restoring the orangutan in a whole- or half-earth context

Meijaard, Erik, Sheil, Douglas, Sherman, Julie, Chua, Liana, Ni'matullah, Safwanah, Wilson, Kerrie, Ancrenaz, Marc, Liswanto, Darmawan, Wich, Serge A., Goossens, Benoit ORCID:, Kühl, Hjalmar S., Voigt, Maria, Rayadin, Yaya, Kurniawan, Yuyun, Trianto, Agus, Priatna, Dolly, Banes, Graham L., Massingham, Emily, Payne, John and Marshall, Andrew J. 2023. Restoring the orangutan in a whole- or half-earth context. Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation 57 (5) , pp. 566-577. 10.1017/S003060532200093X

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Various global-scale proposals exist to reduce the loss of biological diversity. These include the Half-Earth and Whole-Earth visions that respectively seek to set aside half the planet for wildlife conservation or to diversify conservation practices fundamentally and change the economic systems that determine environmental harm. Here we assess these visions in the specific context of Bornean orangutans Pongo pygmaeus and their conservation. Using an expert-led process we explored three scenarios over a 10-year time frame: continuation of Current Conditions, a Half-Earth approach and a Whole-Earth approach. In addition, we examined a 100-year population recovery scenario assuming 0% offtake of Bornean orangutans. Current Conditions were predicted to result in a population c. 73% of its current size by 2032. Half-Earth was judged comparatively easy to achieve and predicted to result in an orangutan population of c. 87% of its current size by 2032. Whole-Earth was anticipated to lead to greater forest loss and ape killing, resulting in a prediction of c. 44% of the current orangutan population for 2032. Finally, under the recovery scenario, populations could be c. 148% of their current size by 2122. Although we acknowledge uncertainties in all of these predictions, we conclude that the Half-Earth and Whole-Earth visions operate along different timelines, with the implementation of Whole-Earth requiring too much time to benefit orangutans. None of the theorized proposals provided a complete solution, so drawing elements from each will be required. We provide recommendations for equitable outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0030-6053
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 October 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 October 2022
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 21:26

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