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Article  Ghost roads: Are they destroying the natural world? (geographical scars)

C C Offline

EXCERPT: According to researchers, ghost roads are defined as roads that do not appear in the two leading global road datasets: the Global Roads Inventory Project (GRIP) and OpenStreetMap (OSM). These roads include informally or illicitly constructed tracks, bulldozed paths in logged forests, and roads in plantations, particularly palm oil plantations.

Led by a team from the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science at James Cook University, the study identified approximately 1.37 million kilometers of such roads across Borneo, Sumatra, and New Guinea, which is 3.0 to 6.6 times more than what is recorded in existing global datasets.

“What’s so bad about a road? A road means access,” wrote study author Professor William Laurance in a recent article. “Illegal loggers, miners, poachers and landgrabbers arrive once roads are bulldozed into rainforests.”

According to the study, road density emerged as the strongest predictor of deforestation. The relationship between road density and forest loss is nonlinear, with deforestation peaking soon after roads penetrate a landscape and then declining as road density increases and accessible forests disappear.

“When ghost roads appear, local deforestation soars – usually immediately after the roads are built,” Laurence explained. “We found the density of roads was by far the most important predictor of forest loss, outstripping 38 other variables. No matter how one assesses them, roads are forest killers.

This pattern, the research team says, indicates that roads are a primary driver of deforestation rather than a consequence of it... (MORE - missing details)

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