Navigation Links
Fences cause 'ecological meltdown'

NEW YORK (Embargoed Not for release until 14:00 EST 3 April 2014) Wildlife fences are constructed for a variety of reasons including to prevent the spread of diseases, protect wildlife from poachers, and to help manage small populations of threatened species. Humanwildlife conflict is another common reason for building fences: Wildlife can damage valuable livestock, crops, or infrastructure, some species carry diseases of agricultural concern, and a few threaten human lives. At the same time, people kill wild animals for food, trade, or to defend lives or property, and human activities degrade wildlife habitat. Separating people and wildlife by fencing can appear to be a mutually beneficial way to avoid such detrimental effects. But in a paper in the journal Science, published today, April 4th, 2014, WCS and ZSL scientists review the 'pros and cons' of large scale fencing and argue that fencing should often be a last resort.

Although fencing can have conservation benefits, it also has costs. When areas of contiguous wildlife habitat are converted into islands, the resulting small and isolated populations are prone to extinction, and the resulting loss of predators and other larger-bodied species can affect interactions between species in ways that cause further local extinctions, a process which has been termed "ecological meltdown".

"In some parts of the world, fencing is part of the culture of wildlife conservation it's assumed that all wildlife areas have to be fenced. But fencing profoundly alters ecosystems, and can cause some species to disappear. We're asking that conservationists as well as other sectoral interests carefully weigh up the biodiversity costs and benefits of new and existing fences," said ZSL's Rosie Woodroffe, lead author of the study.

In addition to their ecosystem-wide impact, fences do not always achieve their specific aims. Construction of fences to reduce humanwildlife conflict has been successful in some places but the challenges of appropriate fence design, location, construction, and maintenance mean that fences often fail to deliver the anticipated benefits. Ironically, in some places, fences also provide poachers with a ready supply of wire for making snares.

Co-author Simon Hedges of WCS said: "A variety of alternative approaches including better animal husbandry, community-based crop-guarding, insurance schemes, and wildlife-sensitive land-use planning can be used to mitigate conflicts between people and wildlife without the need for fencing. WCS projects working with local people and government agencies have shown that humanelephant conflict can be dramatically reduced without using fences in countries as different as Indonesia and Tanzania."

Co-author Sarah Durant of ZSL's said, "An increased awareness of the damage caused by fencing is leading to movements to remove fences instead of building more. Increasingly, fencing is seen as backwards step in conservation."

The desire to separate livestock from wildlife in order to create zones free from diseases such as foot and mouth has resulted in extensive fencing systems, particularly in southern Africa. Some of these fences have had devastating environmental effects. Fortunately, it is increasingly recognized that a combination of improved testing, vaccination, and standardized approaches to meat preparation can prevent spread of diseases without the need to separate cattle from wildlife by fencing.

The authors conclude that as climate change increases the importance of facilitating wildlife mobility and maintaining landscape connectivity, fence removal may become an important form of climate change preparedness, and so fencing of wildlife should be avoided whenever possible.

Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

Related biology news :

1. Stomach bacteria switch off human immune defences to cause disease
2. Neurobiologists find chronic stress in early life causes anxiety, aggression in adulthood
3. Cause for exaggerated insulin response in subset of bariatric surgery patients identified
4. The causes and consequences of global climate warming that took place 56 million years ago studied
5. Leukaemia caused by chromosome catastrophe
6. TGen-led study discovers genetic cause of rare type of ovarian cancer
7. Among US children, more infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria
8. TGen study identifies gene fusion as likely cause of rare type of thyroid cancer
9. Gut bacteria can cause life-threatening infections in preterm babies
10. Bacterium and fungus team up to cause virulent tooth decay in toddlers
11. A new cell type is implicated in epilepsy caused by traumatic brain injury
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Fences cause 'ecological meltdown'
(Date:11/4/2015)... York , November 4, 2015 ... a new market report published by Transparency Market Research "Home ... Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home ... US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is estimated ... forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... RESTON, Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... announced today that it has released a new version ... Daon customers in North America ... gains. IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF ... customers are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015 Today, ... a partnership with 2XU, a global leader in ... a smart hat with advanced bio-sensing technology. The ... athletes to monitor key biometrics to improve overall ... partnership, the two companies will bring together the most ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Epigenetics Corp. ("Zenith" or the ... C.W. Wong to its Board of Directors to replace ... with a wealth of experience as co-founder of Resverlogix, with ... --> --> Dr. Wong remarked, ... of directors. Zenith,s long standing expertise in epigenetics and the ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- TapImmune, Inc. (TPIV), a clinical-stage ... and gene-based immunotherapeutics and vaccines for the treatment of ... presenting at the 8 th Annual LD Micro ... PT. Dr. John N. Bonfiglio a TapImmune ... presentation and will join TapImmune management in meeting with ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015  Northwest Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: NWBO ) ("NW ... therapies for solid tumor cancers, announced today that the ... and the Company welcomes Neil Woodford,s call ... anonymous internet report on NW Bio.  The Company,s Board ... Powers stated, "We agree with Mr. Woodford that, ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... , ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... that includes over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, ... applied spectroscopy, covers a wide range of applications such as, but not limited ...
Breaking Biology Technology: