Without more careful monitoring and efforts, some protected reserves are actually doing worse off than before. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Simply setting aside land as protected reserves is no longer enough when it comes to preserving the habitats and lifestyles of wild animals. A recent study found that these reserves are actually suffering from a lack of biodiversity brought on by the very nature of protected reserves.
The study is a stark reminder that more active, participatory action is required if we are to maintain biodiversity here on Earth.
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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 Daniel Janzen, DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology in Penn's Department of Biology. "It's death from a thousand cuts."
William Laurance from Australia's James Cook University led a team that conducted 262 interviews with field biologists and other experts concerning 60 protected areas from 36 countries. Of the areas surveyed, four-fifths were found to have had a decline in health.
The report, published in the journal Nature, states that protected reserves are not the "arks" that conservationists hoped for.
The most negatively affected wildlife and plants were found to be "bats, amphibians, lizards, large-bodied mammals, stream-dwelling fish, amphibians and old-growth trees." The actual picture may be worse off than what the study revealed because smaller organisms, like insects and fungi were not even looked at.
Janzen works at the Costa Rica's Área de Conservación Guanacaste, which is one of the few reserves that has actually improved on the quality of living.
"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."
The park has also grown to over 160,000 hectacres after starting out at 10,000.