Quantcast
Animals
Toque macaques in Sri Lanka. Milos Kravcik / Flickr

It’s Time for a More Realistic Approach to Conservation

By Rajesh Rajaselvam

The tropics are home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals on Earth. Yet many of these hotspots are in war zones that disregard the rules of democracy and nurture an indefinite influence of corruption.

During the 10 years I've worked in tropical countries, I have seen the human toll on biodiversity both exaggerated and underplayed by scientists and media. Rare road kills of leopards in Sri Lanka have been mistakenly exaggerated as "organized poaching," and the systematic smuggling of reptiles in South America and Africa has been distorted as "random attempts."


Preserving biodiversity in these areas is a real challenge for scientists and conservationists. They collect reliable data, create robust models and project the fate of biodiversity hot spots, but without real access to these locations, practical conservation strategies remain out of reach.

Only an effective network of scientists, local governments and people, conservation groups and honest media can create a clear picture of this biodiversity crisis and work towards a solution.

Can humans and nature coexist?

Instead of spending enormous amounts of money on "absurd research" and conservation-irrelevant work, let's put the dollars towards supporting those living in these bio-diverse hotspots. This would allow them to improve their living conditions and to serve as guardians who keep a watchful eye on poachers.

Already some local governments rely on their villagers to stop wildlife crimes. For example, Tibetan villagers assigned to protect local wildlife have captured poachers.

But elsewhere, local people are being evicted in the name of wildlife conservation. More than 200,000 people are to be relocated so that Kaziranga National Park in India can expand its boundaries to give its tigers and endangered Indian rhinos more space. The government says this will help forest rangers deal with poachers and keep innocent villagers from being caught up in the conflict.

But hard-line approaches like this should be directed towards the poachers—not forest dwellers. For the most part, those who live in wild areas harvest only the resources they require. They look after the forest.

This coexistence between people and land is necessary to conserve nature. Governments shouldn't oust people to conserve nature, but involve them in ecotourism, the conservation decision-making process and proposed management strategies.

Rural Hindus and Buddhists in South Asia consider monkeys sacred and protect them. If not, even the hardy species like macaques and Asian elephants might go extinct.

Sincere effort is vital.

The political leaders and governments of tropical nations should be encouraged to keep their international reputations by respecting conservation obligations. This can be guaranteed if developed countries provide adequate and performance-based financing. When forest-dwellers can support themselves, they'll be more willing to help conserve the forests.

Nature's ecosystem services, such as water purification, pest control and storm buffering, must be more greatly valued than the cash crops that destroy forests and other habitats.

Paying farmers and land owners for managing their lands to provide ecosystem services definitely pays off. When local communities have confidence in practical strategies, such as incentives for conserving and restoring forest habitats, then corruption can be minimized and eventually eliminated.

When coupled with regulations, market-based strategies can also help local residents conserve nature.

In Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar, land-owners are tempted to clear land to plant oil palm to meet the high demand for palm oil. Some have suggested that high-yielding varieties might remove the pressure, but others argue that, in the absence of regulation, it will only become more attractive to farmers.

This coupling has worked elsewhere. For example, the moratorium signed between the local soybean exporting companies in Brazil and the foreign supermarket chains in 2006 significantly reduced clearing forest lands.

Spread the word.

Finally, governments, environmental NGOs and research institutes should introduce outreach activities that teach children about conservation.

The principles of biodiversity conservation should be made compulsory in all schools, especially in the countries where it's a serious concern. This will positively impact students to form strong commitments towards conservation, thus creating a positive atmosphere to nature.

Conservation cannot exist only on paper—it must be translated into practical tasks that can be embraced by those most affected by its future.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
GMO
Activists campaigning to regulate glyphosate in the European Union. Avaaz / Flickr

Monsanto 'Commands' Civic Group to Turn in All Communications Over Glyphosate

Avaaz, a civic campaigning network that counts roughly 45 million subscribers around the world, has been served with a 168-page subpoena on behalf of agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The document, dated Jan. 26 and sent from New York Supreme Court, "commands" the U.S.-based organization to turn in a decade's worth of internal communications by Friday, Feb. 23.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Radiation area from Horseshoe Mesa uranium mine tailings at Grand Canyon's South Rim. Al_HikesAZ / Flickr

Uranium Mining's Toxic Legacy: Why the U.S. Risks Repeating Mistakes

By Stephanie Malin

Uranium—the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons—is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as "critical minerals."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. Simisa / Wikimedia Commons

Seychelles Creates Groundbreaking Marine Reserve With Help From Leonardo DiCaprio

The Seychelles has created two vast new marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean after a groundbreaking finance deal brokered by the Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders, including environmentalist and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.

In exchange for writing off a portion of its debt, the island nation agreed to protect a total of 81,000-square-miles of ocean—that's about the size of Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less
President Trump and French President Macron review troops during the Bastille Day parade last July.

There Are Better Things in France for Trump to Emulate Than a Military Parade

By Elliott Negin

President Trump was so impressed by the military parade he saw in Paris on Bastille Day last July that he ordered the Pentagon to plan a bigger one for Washington, DC.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Bears Ears National Monument. Gannon McGhee / Flickr

Rare Fossils Discovered on Lands Cut From Bears Ears National Monument

Researchers, led by paleontologist Rob Gay, have discovered what may be one of the world's richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The team's initial excavation led to the extraordinary discovery of several intact remains of crocodile-like animals called phytosaurs. The findings were publicly announced at this week's Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists (WAVP) annual conference where researchers warned of a growing threat to their work in the region.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
GE Renewable Energy

Nation's Largest Wind Farm Coming to Oklahoma

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which includes a massive 800-turbine wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma panhandle, is getting closer to lift-off.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of major utility American Electric Power, announced this week a settlement with various parties, including Walmart, allowing the $4.5 billion project to move forward.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Marine litter on a remote stretch of coastline in Rekvik, Norway. Bo Eide / Flickr

Plastic Threatens to Swamp the Planet

By Paul Brown

A ubiquitous tide of plastic particles has now swept throughout the world's oceans.

The human rights activist Bianca Jagger described to a conference in London Tuesday how a substance that was invented only in 1907 and seemed to have almost magical properties, because it was practically indestructible, is now threatening an environmental catastrophe.

Keep reading... Show less

Beachgoers Use Endangered Shark Dragged From Water for Selfies

By Zachary Toliver

Sometimes humans forget that animals have feelings, too, and cause them to suffer. Just consider some Florida beachgoers who were filmed taking photos of and selfies with an injured hammerhead shark, who an expert says most likely died after the incident.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!