Conservation project for natural and cultural biodiversity - Nature Essay Example

Conservation project for natural and cultural biodiversity

            Land protection including the establishment of parks, game reserves and wildlife sanctuaries is the major strategy used in governments and NGOs to avert the extinction threat - Conservation project for natural and cultural biodiversity introduction. However, these forums of conservation have achieved little in relation to the rapid increase in extinction rate. In response to the above crisis non-governmental organizations and international agencies have come up with amicable strategies for protecting natural habitats. In 1988, an ecologist by the name Norman Myers introduced a concept of identifying certain areas of the world as hotspots. He defined a hotspot as a region with high level of endemic species i.e. species that are found nowhere else and tend to occur in areas of dense human habitation leading to threats to the many endemic species.

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            It was further established that in the world, most hotspots are located in the tropics and include forests. However, due to pressures of the rapidly growing population in the world today, human activity in many of these areas is increasing dramatically. A hotspot-based approach to conservation of biodiversity was later adopted. This approach has received mixed reactions from a number of conservationists across the globe .To some, this is a valuable strategy for ensuring maximum possible impact from limited means, while to others a hotspot approach is likely to protect the highest possible number of species per unit area of habitat successfully conserved.

            However, the large number of different species on earth is not sole measure of global environmental health. An emphasis on hotspots will mean ignoring the need for the preservation of lower energy ecosystems, which might not necessarily be rich in species diversity but essential to functioning of the global environment. Directing conservation efforts exclusively to hotspots is indeed wrong and may be a genesis for major loses in the future. Today, hotspots have attracted international funding from all over the world. This has had a far-reaching impact on the cold spots. It is important to consider species richness in deciding where to invest conservation funds. We also need to consider ecosystem services and socio-political environment.

            In a nutshell the hotspot approach is not the best way of identifying those areas of the globe that are most in need of urgent conservation action. UNDP therefore, proposes a holistic approach to conservation which pays due attention to species rich ecosystems while also encompassing less diverse regions like tundra dry lands and the arctic. There is need for more strategies to protect biodiversity within hotspots while ensuring a fair deal for the people who call them home i.e by establishing traditional protected areas, sustainable harvesting and payments for ecosystems services.

            Cold spots on the other hand refer to non-hotspot areas. They are majorly known for providing crucial global and local ecosystem processes, provide habitat for wide ranging animal species and contain unique evolutionary lineages.

             Various amendments have to be made to the hotspot approach to improve its applicability. There is a need to expand and strengthen its focus on human needs.

          The sole reason for its popularity (hotspot approach) is because it is the simplest approach that permits worldwide comparison and therefore allows decision making at global state. Its strength rests purely in its simple assessment. Hotspots have been viewed by conservationists as a way of directing conservation efforts towards the most effective action at global scale. On the contrary, Ottoherzberg F, & Anthony H.D (1995) express the weakness of setting the conservation goal exclusively to protect the largest possible number of species in the smallest possible area. Larger range of objectives should be set, such as: maintaining functioning ecosystems around the world, preserving landscapes for recreation and education. The hotspot-based approach would not take these objectives into account; on the contrary, many important places on the earth will suffer diminished conservation efforts only because they can be recognized as “cold spots”. However, according to Kareiva and Marvier (2003), a “cold spot” can be as good as a hotspot for directing conservation action.

            The purpose of biodiversity hotspots is not to identify regions of high biodiversity value but to prioritize conservation spending. So far the regions identified include those of developed world as well as those of developing world. Ronald I, Miller ed. (1994), argues that biodiversity hotspots do not make allowances for changing land use patterns. They represent regions that have experienced considerable habitat loss, but not experiencing ongoing habitat loss. While on a comparative level regions that are relatively intact like the Amazon basin have experienced relatively little land loss, but are currently losing habitat at tremendous rate.

            Hotspots emphasize species richness; more specifically it calls for tallying up the number of endemic plant species in a region. Although the simple parameter correlates with other measures species richness at huge spatial scales, several analyses over the past years have revealed that hotspots for different taxa, do not coincide well with one another, hotspots therefore often misses rare species and that major animal groups could be lost by devoting for much attention to endemic plants.

            Another loophole in this approach is that for a region to qualify as a hotspot it must have suffered a loss of at least 70% of the original vegetation. This definition has limitations in the sense that the fraction of natural plant life that is already gone is more a statement about land use in the past than a direct indication of future threat. Therefore, rather than directing efforts towards areas with rich sets of endemic species, conservation groups should concentrate on saving higher taxonomic groups under threat. Lastly, conservation programs must cut a cross political boundaries, and “eco-regions” be used to represent natural units.

References

Kareiva ,P.&M.Marvier (2003), Conserving biodiversity cold spots, American scientist 91:344-351

Ronald Irving, Miller ed. (1994). Mapping the diversity of nature, Chapman Hall

Ottoherzberg  F, & Anthony H.D (1995). Conservation of plant biodiversity, Cambridge University Press

 

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