Wildlife conservation is a matter of development status – University of Copenhagen

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05 September 2016

Wildlife conservation is a matter of development status

Wildlife conservation

The results, of the largest investigation of wildlife trends in protected areas to date, have just been published. The international study found that protected areas in wealthier, more developed countries are better at successfully safeguard wildlife, compared to protected areas in less developed countries.

The key response to global biodiversity decline has been the establishment of protected areas, like reserves and national parks. A new international study, just published in the journal Nature Communications, found that protected areas around the world successfully safeguard wildlife, most notably in wealthier, more developed countries.

One of the authors, Postdoc Jonas Geldmann from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen says,

- We are happy to discover that protected areas, in general, successfully protect wildlife populations within their boundaries. But, our results clearly show that, in order for protected areas to be more than just lines on a map, countries need to prioritize them.

Protected areas successfully safeguard wildlife, most notably in wealthier, more developed countries. Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada (Photo: Alison Woodley). Press photo.

It is not sufficient to only create new parks to increase the area under conservation, in conformity with the target in the newest Convention on Biological Diversity. The study highlights the need for effective management of parks. Sociological and economic conditions, on the national scale, were found to be far more important in influencing the success of parks, than often-cited factors such as; the size of protected areas, design or type.

Co-author, Professor Neil Burgess from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate and Head of Science UNEP-WCMC, says,

- Our results show that it is important to tailor protected area management strategies to social and political conditions. Enhancing protected area governance and management quality is essential, as protected areas are our key nature conservation tool.

Bigger is better

Based on the results, the scientists showed that largest-bodied wildlife, like giraffes and buffalos had more positive population trends, compared to smaller species like the jackals.

- National Parks are the cornerstone of most country’s conservation plans, so it’s essential they work to conserve nature and wildlife in general, and not just the charismatic species. Management must target the full range of species to meet the goals of halting biodiversity decline, Jonas Geldmann continues.

The study showed that largest-bodied wildlife, like giraffes had more positive population trends, compared to smaller species (Photo: Miroslav Duchacek). Press photo.

The group behind the study, which is the largest investigation of wildlife trends in protected areas to date, involved a taskforce comprised of two Commissions of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – those for species (SSC), and protected areas (WCPA).  The study included over five hundred and fifty species of birds and mammals in 447 protected areas across 72 countries.

Despite the overall successful protection of wildlife in protected areas, the study shows a more positive effect on conservation of mammals and birds in Europe compared to Africa.

- There are still a number of protected areas where wildlife populations are declining, and these need urgent support, especially in developing nations, if they are to successfully preserve their biodiversity in perpetuity, Neil Burgess concludes.

The results will be presented at the high profile IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016, taking place in Hawaii September 1st to 10th 2016.

 

Contact

Postdoc Jonas Geldmann
Phone: (+44) 74 12 88 51 12
jgeldmann@snm.ku.dk

Professor Neil Burgess
Phone: (+44) 7711 423875
ndburgess@snm.ku.dk