A paper by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), James Cook University and Mongabay.com, which was published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution in early August, showed that although large-scale biodiversity declines are ongoing, certain conservation actions have made a positive difference.
This paper was led by the late Professor Navjot Sodhi of NUS, a renowned conservation ecologist who, more than anyone, understood the dismal outlook of conservation, having focused much of his career highlighting the biodiversity crisis.
According to one of the authors, Luke Gibson, a PhD student from the Department of Biological Sciences at NUS who was mentored by Prof Sodhi, "Identifying the scope of different conservation achievements can help to guide further conservation successes."
To assess the conservation achievements, the researchers classified them into three different scales: micro-, meso- and macroscales.
Microscale conservation encompasses direct efforts to protect species or habitats, including the creation of protected areas and the control of illegal hunting. For instance, in Brazilian Amazonia, the largest remaining tract of tropical rainforest in the world, protected areas have helped to reduce deforestation rates. An estimated 37% of the decline in annual deforestation rates in Brazil between 2002 and 2009 can be attributed to the preservation of 709 000 sq km of forest in newly established protected areas.
Mesoscale conservation covers regional efforts including transboundary agreements and the regulation of international wildlife trade. A successful example of this scale comes from the Virunga landscape of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, where adjoining national parks have led to population increases of elephants and gorillas. The population of mountain gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) has increased from 250 to 480 over the past 30 years.
|Contact: Carolyn Fong|
National University of Singapore