Threat to Biodiversity in Tropical Forest
Establishing protection over a swath of land is a very effective strategy to conserve its species and its ecosystems. But it seems like these protected areas are still vulnerable to damaging encroachment, and many are suffering from biodiversity loss. This new finding was presented in a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania in which biologist Daniel Janzen along with 200 colleagues report that protected areas are still vulnerable to damaging encroachment, and many are suffering from biodiversity loss.
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"If you put a boundary around a piece of land and install some bored park guards and that's all you do, the park will eventually die," said Janzen, DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology in Penn's Department of Biology. "It's death from a thousand cuts."
William Laurance of Australia's James Cook University, who led the international team of researchers, had conducted around 262 interviews that included field biologists and environmental scientists who had extensive experience in tropical forest reserves. The interviews incorporated results from 60 protected areas in 36 countries.
Through the questions the researchers tried to determine how the biological health of the protected areas changes over the last two to three decades. Some of the questions focused on wildlife in areas.
The study that was published in the journal Nature, states that the protected areas fail to serve as the "arks" that some conservations had hoped for. In order to conduct the study the researchers considered nearly four fifth of the areas for the survey. They were astonished to know to that half of the areas had suffered more serious losses to biodiversity.
The researchers also produced a list of types of wildlife and plants that are the most affected. The list consisted of bats, amphibians, lizards, large-bodied mammals, stream-dwelling fish, amphibians and old-growth trees. Insects, fungi and other small insects were the neglected for the study.
Janzen said that many of the features that he and Hallwachs incorporated into the park's design are "obvious": making it socially integrated by hiring only local workers, gaining political support by winning the blessing of the Costa Rican president and incorporating habitat into the park's boundaries that will allow species to cope with climate change.
The study authors noted that although their findings suggest that many protected areas are in trouble, their intent is not "to diminish their crucial role but to highlight growing challenges that could threaten their success."