Avoiding biodiversity collapse in tropical forest reserves

A juvenile green iguana (<i>Iguana iguana</i>) from Barro Colorado Island, Panama.  This small island, just 1500 hectares (3700 acres) in area, is one of the tropical protected areas evaluated in this study (photo © Christian Ziegler, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).
Photo courtesy of Professor William Laurance.

A juvenile green iguana (Iguana iguana) from Barro Colorado Island, Panama. This small island, just 1500 hectares (3700 acres) in area, is one of the tropical protected areas evaluated in this study (photo © Christian Ziegler, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).
Photo courtesy of Professor William Laurance.

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Thursday, 26 July 2012

An international group of environmental scientists involving researchers from the University of Adelaide has shown that many of the world's tropical protected areas are struggling to sustain their biodiversity.

In a paper published online today in the journal Nature, ecology researchers argue that while most tropical reserves are helping to protect their forests, approximately half are struggling to maintain their biodiversity.

"Key questions are: do protected areas in fact protect their biodiversity, or are they suffering from various ills, perhaps as the environments around them are increasingly being modified?" says Professor William Laurance from James Cook University and lead author of the paper.

Professor Corey Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modelling at the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute and a senior author of the paper, says a better job needs to be done to defend protected areas.

"More and more countries are trying to increase the amount of land covered by protected areas, and we always say we're not doing enough or we're not protecting enough. But if existing protected areas are often struggling to do their intended job, how can we assist them?

"We need to fight internal and external threats and structure more support for protected areas in their local environment. Such efforts will ensure protected areas are made more resilient against future threats such as climate change.

"Protected areas do not act as islands buffered from the sea of degradation surrounding them. What we do around the protected areas can have a major impact on them internally," says Professor Bradshaw.

To read more of Professor Bradshaw's comments on the paper, visit his blog: ConservationBytes.com

To see a video of a discussion involving professors Laurance and Bradshaw about the paper, go here: http://youtu.be/6XoMG1C10DA.

 

Contact Details

Professor Corey Bradshaw
Email: corey.bradshaw@adelaide.edu.au
Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change
Environment Institute
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5842
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Mr David Ellis
Email: david.ellis@adelaide.edu.au
Website: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
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