[permaculture] BBC News - Protected tropical forests' biodiversity 'declining'

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Wed Jul 25 23:01:11 EDT 2012

BBC News - Protected tropical forests' biodiversity

 25 July 2012 Last updated at 20:55 ET
Protected tropical forests' biodiversity 'declining'
By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

Red-eye treefrog (Christian Ziegler, zieglerphoto at yahoo.com) Red-eyed
treefrogs were among the species assessed in the study

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Despite having protected status, the biodiversity in a large number of
tropical forests is still continuing to decline, a study has

The authors said the findings should cause concern because the areas
have been seen as a final refuge for a number of threatened species.

Habitat disruption, hunting and timber exploitation have been seen as
signs of future decline, they added.

The findings have been published online by the science journal Nature.

"The rapid disruption of tropical forests probably imperils global
biodiversity more than any other contemporary phenomenon," the
international team of research wrote.

"Many protected areas in the tropics are themselves vulnerable to
human encroachment and other environmental stresses."

Tropical forests are considered to be the biologically richest areas
on the planet.

In order to assess the state of the world's protected areas, the team
considered data from 60 areas, based on "262 detailed interviews,
focusing on veteran field biologists and environmental scientists, who
averaged more than two decades of experience".
Continue reading the main story	
Tropical forest facts

    Cover 6% of the Earth across the tropical regions
    Contain more than half of Earth's plant and animal species
    There are no seasons in the rainforest

Source: BBC Nature

    Find out more about tropical forests
    David Attenborough on rainforest destruction

"Our study was motivated by three broad issues: whether tropical
reserves will function as 'arks' for biodiversity and natural
ecosystem processes," the team wrote.

They added: "Whether observed changes are mainly concordant or
idiosyncratic among different protect areas; and what are the
principal predictors of reserve success or failure."

The study covered 36 nations across the tropics in Africa, Asia and
South America.

The findings suggested that "protecting biodiversity involved more
than jut safeguarding the reserves themselves".

"In many cases, the landscapes and habitats surrounding the reserves
are under imminent threat," they observed.
Ranger shows remains skull of a young forest elephant (Image: Ralph
Buji) Hunting has been identified as one of the main threats to
biodiversity in protected areas

"For example, 85% of [the observed] reserves suffered declines in
surrounding forest cover in the [past] 20 to 30 years, whereas only 2%
gained surrounding forest."

The team reported that the data showed that forest disruption,
over-exploitation of wildlife and forest resources had the greatest
"direct negative impact".

They also observed that "air and water pollution, increase in human
population densities and climatic change" had a weaker or more
indirect impact.

The team - headed by Prof William Laurance from James Cook University,
Australia - concluded that the activities outside the protected areas
had an impact on the resilience of the biodiversity within the
protected areas.

"It is not enough to [protect] interiors while ignoring surrounding
landscapes, which are being rapidly deforested, degraded and
over-hunted," they observed.

"A failure to limit inter-related internal and external threats could
predispose reserves to ecological decay, including taxonomically and
functionally array in species communities and an erosion of
fundamental ecosystem processes."
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Related Internet links

    James Cook University

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