Press release 2012

Prof. Teja Tscharntke - Landscape moderation of biodiversity patterns and processes

released on vimeo in September 2011 from Nekudat Hen

Are nature reserves working? Take a look outside
(September 2012)

William Laurance

Lore-Lindu_Nationalpark_1_Tscharntke_206You couldn’t have witnessed the recent massacre of elephants at Bouba N’Djida National Park and not be worried about the future of biodiversity.
The park, in northern Cameroon, is supposed to be a refuge for rare wildlife such as the African forest elephant and painted hunting dog. But earlier this year, armed poachers invaded the park and began slaughtering its elephants, hacking off their valuable ivory tusks, which are mostly smuggled to China. In the following months, over half of the parks’ elephant population — some 350 individuals — was gunned down.
Yet not all protected areas are suffering like this. In the Brazilian Amazon, where I’ve worked for many years, parks and nature reserves are helping to slow illegal deforestation, fires and logging in vulnerable frontier areas. Some parks are struggling, but many are holding their own in the face of growing environmental stresses.
Similarly, in northeastern India, my doctoral student Nandini Velho has found that parks are doing a much better job than surrounding community lands in sustaining rainforests and vulnerable wildlife such as tigers and Asian elephants.
What are we to conclude about parks and other protected areas? Will they be a cornerstone for sustaining biodiversity or a failed experiment, battered and overrun by a burgeoning human populace and its pressing needs for land and natural resources?
This question prompted me to initiate one of the largest studies ever attempted on protected areas and their biodiversity, focusing on tropical forests. Eventually involving more than 200 other field biologists, this study, just published in Nature, has crucial lessons for how we go about conserving our most imperilled species and ecosystems...more

Can Parks Save Tropical Biodiversity?
(Posted 25 July 2012)

Written by William Laurance

Lore-Lindu_Nationalpark_1_Tscharntke_206As forest disruption proceeds apace, protected areas are increasingly becoming final refuges for biodiversity and natural ecosystem processes. But the protected areas themselves are facing human encroachment and other pressures. Will they function as 'arks' for biodiversity? In a recent analysis published in Nature, William Laurance and colleagues show that the fates of tropical protected areas are highly variable. Some are faring well, but others are suffering. Importantly, they argue, the health of biodiversity depends not only on disturbances to the reserve itself, but also on disruption of the habitats immediately surrounding the reserve.