Forgetting can be accounted for by time-indexed decay as well as competition-based interference processes. Although conventionally seen as competing theories of forgetting processes, Altmann and colleagues argued for a functional interaction between decay and interference. They revealed that, in short-term memory, time-based forgetting occurred at a faster rate under conditions of high proactive interference compared to conditions of low proactive interference. However, it is unknown whether interactive effects between decay-based forgetting and interference-based forgetting also exist in long-term memory. We employed a delayed memory recognition paradigm for visual indoor and outdoor scenes, measuring recognition accuracy at two time-points, immediately after learning and after 1 week, while interference was indexed by the number of images in a semantic category. We found that higher levels of interference during encoding led to a slower subsequent decay rate. In contrast to the findings in working-memory, our results suggest that a "survival of the fittest" principle applies to long-term memory processes, in which stimulus competition during encoding results in fewer, but also more robust memory traces, which decay at a slower rate. Conversely, low levels of interference during encoding allow more memory traces to form initially, which, however, subsequently decay at a faster rate. Our findings provide new insights into the mechanism of forgetting and could inform neurobiological models of forgetting.