Human populations have been clearing land by fire and other means for shifting agriculture and livestock grazing ever since they arrived in Wallacea about 40,000 years ago. Nevertheless, as elsewhere, Wallacea's ecosystems have been most dramatically impacted in the last 100 years or so. In the last century, the human population of the hotspot has quadrupled, and development has grown along with it. One of the world's newest countries, Timor Leste, was officially recognized in 2002, and many parts of Wallacea have seen political turmoil and dramatic changes.
Commercial logging began in Wallacea in the early 20th century. Forests have been cleared for agriculture, timber plantations, and land-settlement schemes, including the infamous transmigration program in which the Indonesian government moved people from densely populated islands to less populated ones. Furthermore, as has been so obvious with the El Niño-related fires that have raged through much of Indonesia from mid-1997 to the present, fire continues to be a problem, exacerbated by increased drying because of logging and plantation agriculture and sometimes intentional burning. Overall, 45 percent of Wallacea has some remaining forest cover, although only 15 percent is in more or less intact condition. The Lesser Sundas are thought to have only about seven percent forest cover remaining, while Sulawesi is still about 42 percent covered in original forest. Much of the forest that remains has been allocated to timber concessions or mining developments, and the growing population has increased the pressure from hunting and poaching.
Pressures on individual species are also exacerbated in this hotspot, because it is made up of islands, which are particularly vulnerable to extinctions. Sangihe, north of Sulawesi, has been almost completely devastated by human activity for coconut and nutmeg plantations. Today, the only remaining habitat is a small patch of montane forest on top of an extinct volcano (Gunung Sahendaruman), thought to be the last home of the caerulean paradise-flycatcher and Sangihe white-eye, and last known stronghold for the Sangihe shrike-thrush (Colluricincla sanghirensis, CR) and elegant sunbird (Aethopyga duyvenbodei, EN).