Main image for Riparian Forest Strips as a Conservation Strategy

A riverine or riparian forest is protected by law.


In many tropical agricultural landscapes, riverine or riparian forest is protected by law. This is primarily because of the water purification services provided by the forest, as it helps limit run-off of soil and agricultural chemicals into rivers. However, as areas of continuous forest continue to decline across the tropics, these forest strips could also help conserve some of the planet’s most biodiverse ecosystems.

Riparian forest strips may act as movement corridors for large animals (such as the orang-utan and pygmy elephant), as well as providing valuable habitat for many smaller mammals and insects. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the ecological characteristics of these riparian forest reserves, and their potential contribution to tropical forest conservation, remains limited.

Claudia is researching the conservation value of riparian forest corridors in oil palm plantations; one of the most rapidly expanding land uses in tropical regions. She has been working in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, surveying the terrestrial communities and ecosystem functions supported by the forest that is kept alongside rivers. In addition, she has been assessing the extent to which the width and habitat complexity affect the community and ecosystem services with the reserves. These results will be directly relevant to national policy and sustainability guidelines concerning the management of riparian habitats in agricultural areas.

The project is based within the SAFE project experimental landscape and on surrounding oil palm plantations.

For further details on current research contact Claudia Gray or Owen Lewis.