UP To half of the world's biological
wealth is threatened with extinction if
the current protective measures are not
extended to cover more land area. This
is the conclusion of a report, Moving
Beyond Brundtland, which was commissioned by Greenpeace and released
recently in Vancouver, Canada.
The report is based on a case study
on endangered temperate rainforests of
British Columbia (BC) in Canada, carried out by M E Soule and M A Sanjayan
from the University of California, Santa
Cruz, us. According to Soule, international organisations and governments
that recommend low national targets
for protection are tacitly justifying an
extinction of roughly fifty per cent, on
average, of each nation's biological heritage. "The 12 per cent target for land
area protection is not sufficient to maintain viable populations of species in BC," says Sanjayan.
Several countries of the world have set targets for protected areas under
various international conventions.
However, the report observes that
the were decided more by political
consideratio6 tHlan by well-reasoned,
scientifically-based ecosystem planning.
Soule and Sanjayan also question the
potential benefits of setting such targets.
Most nations have misconstrued these
targets, notably the governments agreeing to implement an interim protected
area target of 10 per cent by the year
2000, under a progijamme launched by
the World Wide Fund for Nature, says the report.
The World Conservation Union
estimates that loss of forest and other
natural habitat will endanger 75 per cent
of mammals, 42 per cent of birds, 53 per
cent of amphibians and 66 per cent of
reptiles. According to the principle of
species-area relationship established on
the basis of empirical studies, a 90 per
cent loss of habitat results in a 50 per
cent loss of species within the remaining
habitat. The best conservation method,
therefore, would be the comprehensive
protection of ecologically-representative core areas that are large enough to
maintain all dependent species and
natural dynamics, says the report.
"The 12 per cent target (in BC) is a
political construct that is not borne out
by good science. Even more disturbing
is the fact that over 60 per cent of what
has been protected in BC since 1992 has
been rock and ice," says Sanjayan. BC
shelters the largest intact tract of ancient
temperate rainforest in the world, which
is home to a large number of species
dependent on its ancient forests and
waterbodies. However, it is not likely to
remain so, as 36 of the unprotected 76
valleys in Bc are scheduled to be logged
in the next five years.
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