Scientists in fight for embattled protected areas

Mar 04, 2013

(Phys.org) —Many parks and protected areas around the world are being assailed by poachers and encroachers, but a new study suggests scientific research in the parks helps to reduce such threats.

The study by Professor William Laurance from James Cook University shows that scientists aid parks and their biodiversity in many ways—such as by chasing off and by promoting parks to tourists, local communities and governments.

"In the Amazon, for instance, a Brazilian PhD student once faced down a whole truckload of armed poachers," Profesor Laurance said.

"In Indonesian Borneo, where is rampant, scientists have spiked trees to deter illegal timber cutters, and in scientists are helping local communities to evaluate offers from logging and mining companies to exploit their traditional lands.

"There are many conservation heroes out there," Professor Laurance said. "Dian Fossey was murdered trying to protect a reserve for , and other scientists face risks on a daily basis.

"In Ecuadorian Amazon, for instance, illegal gold miners threatened to burn down a research station when scientists tried to stop them from illegal mining and clearing the forest. And many park guards have been killed or threatened trying to combat illegal poaching, logging and mining."

However, not all science benefits biodiversity. Some sensitive wildlife species, such as forest elephants, tend to avoid areas frequented by scientists or ecotourists, and on occasion researchers have accidentally transmitted dangerous diseases to wildlife.

But overall, Professor Laurance said, science is having an important protective effect.

"In an era of financial austerity, it's important to ask whether cutting scientific research budgets will harm our embattled and their wildlife."

Explore further: Famed Galapagos tortoise 'Pepe the Missionary' dies

More information: Laurance, William F. 2013. Does research help to safeguard protected areas? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2013.01.017.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Can nature parks save biodiversity?

Aug 07, 2012

The 14 years of wildlife studies in and around Madagascar's Ranomafana National Park by Sarah Karpanty, associate professor of wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment, ...

Gabon says half its elephants killed since 2004

Feb 06, 2013

More than half of Gabon's elephant population has been killed by poachers since 2004 despite ramped up security measures to try to stop the slaughter, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Elephant highways of death

Apr 03, 2007

A new study coordinated by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups found that Central Africa’s increasing network of roads – which are penetrating deeper and deeper into the wildest areas of ...

Treat illegal wildlife trade as serious crime: CITES

Jan 25, 2013

Illegal trade in wildlife products like ivory and rhino horn must be treated as a serious crime in order to end the devastating poaching of protected species, the head of UN wildlife trade regulator CITES ...

Recommended for you

Speckled beetle key to saving crops in Ethiopia

Aug 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —An invasive weed poses a serious and frightening threat to farming families in Ethiopia, but scientists from a Virginia Tech-led program have unleashed a new weapon in the fight against hunger: ...

New tool to assess noise impact on marine mammals

Aug 22, 2014

A new desktop tool which will allow offshore renewable energy developers to assess the likely impacts of their projects on marine mammal populations has been developed by scientists at the University of St ...

Of bees, mites, and viruses

Aug 21, 2014

Honeybee colonies are dying at alarming rates worldwide. A variety of factors have been proposed to explain their decline, but the exact cause—and how bees can be saved—remains unclear. An article published on August ...

User comments : 0