Do protected areas for wildlife really work?
Can national parks and marine protected areas safeguard endangered wildlife against the growing pressures of population growth and climate change?
Designated a national park in 1778 but safeguarded unofficially since the 13th century, the world's oldest protected area is Mongolia’s sacred Bogd Khan Mountain, overlooking Ulan Bator. The Emperor of Manchur's 18th-century edict was designed to prevent mortals from desecrating the realms of the divine. Building was restricted, logging and hunting banned.
Notions of the sacred then tally with the tenets of environmentalism now, although species and habitat conservation is the focus of the world's 112,000 protected areas in the modern age, rather than its consequence. But with less than 6 per cent of the world's land and 1 per cent of its oceans protected, just how successful can they be?
As a Canadian study revealed last year, biodiversity is falling across the board despite an increase in the number of areas given 'protected' status. There need to be more of them and they need to be bigger, argue the researchers, but there also need to be fewer people.
Young Bull Moose via Shutterstock.
Article continues at The Ecologist.