Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protected areas face threats in sustaining biodiversity, Penn's Daniel Janzen and colleagues report

26.07.2012
Establishing protection over a swath of land seems like a good way to conserve its species and its ecosystems.

But in a new study, University of Pennsylvania biologist Daniel Janzen joins more than 200 colleagues to report that protected areas are still vulnerable to damaging encroachment, and many are suffering from biodiversity loss.

"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."

The international team of researchers, led by William Laurance of Australia's James Cook University, conducted 262 interviews of field biologists and environmental scientists who had extensive experience working in tropical forest reserves. In all, the interviews incorporated results from 60 protected areas in 36 countries.

The researchers constructed questions to determine how the biological health of the protected areas had changed over the last two to three decades. Some queries dealt with the status of wildlife in the areas: Had large mammal or amphibian populations increased or decreased over that time period? Others asked about changes in environmental pressures: Were fires more frequent or had automobile traffic expanded?

Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers report that the protected forest areas are not serving as the "arks" that some conservationists had hoped for. Four-fifths of the areas included in the survey had experienced some declines in health. About half of the areas had suffered more serious losses to biodiversity.

Among the types of wildlife and plants most negatively affected were bats, amphibians, lizards, large-bodied mammals, stream-dwelling fish, amphibians and old-growth trees. And the researchers did not even attempt to monitor insects, fungi and other small organisms.

The scientists further observed that environmental conditions and activities occurring outside of the reserves were strong predictors of how biodiversity inside the boundaries fared. Logging, declining forest cover and increasing fires outside the protected areas tended to pull down the health of the reserves themselves. Such losses were rampant: Eight-five percent of the reserves had their surrounding forests decline in the last few decades, while only two percent had bordering forestland increase.

When Janzen and his wife and research partner, Winnie Hallwachs, became advisors for and supporters of Costa Rica's Área de Conservación Guanacaste in 1985, they worked to ensure the national park would not succumb to such threats.

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 park, which was included in the survey, is one of those protected areas holding up well on many markers of health and biodiversity — even improving on many measures since the 1980s.

"We're atypical," Janzen said. "We used to have 100 to 200 fires a year and within two to three years [of management] we were down to five to 15."

And while many protected areas have found their borders slowly chipped away by development and human encroachment, Janzen said Área de Conservación Guanacaste has "the opposite issue: the size of the original park was 10,000 hectares; right now it's 163,000 hectares, so 16 times as big as when we started."

The challenge, he said, is often acquiring the political and economic will to enact sustainable management and stave off threats from development and human activity in protected areas. And conservationists can't take a cookie-cutter approach to designing and managing protected areas, Janzen said.

"You have to fine-tune and tailor-make your park to the particular circumstances of a place: the nature of the people, the resources and the organisms."

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."

The research was supported by James Cook University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Australian Research Council and the National Science Foundation.

Katherine Unger Baillie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>