AboutZoos, Since 2008


There’s light at end of the tun­nel for world’s wildlife and wild places, researchers say

pub­lished 19 May 2018 | mod­i­fied 19 May 2018

“From Bot­tle­neck to Break­through: Urban­iza­tion and the Future of Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion” says demo­graphic and socio-​economic trends are re-​writing the future of bio­di­ver­sity conservation

A new Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety (WCS) paper pub­lished on 22 April in the jour­nal Bio­Science finds that the enor­mous trends toward pop­u­la­tion sta­bi­liza­tion, poverty alle­vi­a­tion, and urban­iza­tion are rewrit­ing the future of bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion in the 21st cen­tury, offer­ing new hope for the world’s wildlife and wild places.

A light is appear­ing at the end of the tun­nel, but for that light to be sun­shine and not a train, it is crit­i­cal that the world’s nations act now.

Eric Sander­son, lead author, Liv­ing Land­scapes Pro­gram, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Soci­ety, New York City, USA

The paper, writ­ten by Eric Sander­son, WCS Senior Con­ser­va­tion Ecol­o­gist; Joe Wal­ston, WCS Vice Pres­i­dent for Field Con­ser­va­tion; and John Robin­son, WCS Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent for Global Con­ser­va­tion, says that for the first time in the Anthro­pocene, the global demo­graphic and eco­nomic trends that have resulted in unprece­dented destruc­tion of the envi­ron­ment are now cre­at­ing the nec­es­sary con­di­tions for a pos­si­ble renais­sance of nature.

Most peo­ple think that the pop­u­la­tion of peo­ple on Earth will always rise, but these authors point out that the demo­graphic tran­si­tion is already well under­way. The rate of growth in global pop­u­la­tion has been drop­ping since the 1960s. They cite new demo­graphic research that sug­gests the world pop­u­la­tion in 2100 could be as high as 12 bil­lion or as low as 7 bil­lion, fewer peo­ple than are alive today. The dif­fer­ence depends on actions we take today.

So, the cor­rect actions — taken on indi­vid­ual and polit­i­cal level — will pre­vent the havoc and fur­ther progress of the 6th Mass Extinc­tion caused by human activ­i­ties as dis­cussed in the video Call of Life. Watch the trailer:

(Source: Pangeal­ity pro­duc­tions on Vimeo)

Good urban­iza­tion is key. Cities lead peo­ple to choose to have smaller fam­i­lies, and the increased income urban­ites derive from work­ing in town mean that peo­ple can choose to con­serve nature, not destroy it, through choices about what they buy and how they live.

demographic economic trend frameworkA con­cep­tual frame­work con­nect­ing demo­graphic and eco­nomic trends in the twenty-​first cen­tury to impacts on the envi­ron­ment. Urban­iza­tion is con­sid­ered a key dri­ver that increases incomes and decreases fer­til­ity over time. Fer­til­ity increases pop­u­la­tion, income enables higher con­sump­tion rates, and pop­u­la­tion and the con­sump­tion rate mul­ti­plied together and summed over the pop­u­la­tion increase the total con­sump­tion of a soci­ety. Con­sump­tion is sat­is­fied through eco­nomic pro­duc­tion processes that typ­i­cally gen­er­ate pol­lu­tion and moti­vate nat­ural resource extrac­tion, both of which have neg­a­tive impacts on aspects of nature, char­ac­ter­ized by species, ecosys­tems, and ecosystem-​function declines. Dur­ing the twen­ti­eth and early twenty-​first cen­turies, pop­u­la­tion and income have both been ris­ing, dri­ving con­sump­tion and dra­matic declines in nature. Even­tu­ally, how­ever, if pop­u­la­tions sta­bi­lize and per­haps decrease and the rela­tion­ship between income and con­sump­tion mod­er­ates, then one can imag­ine the prospect of lesser impacts on nature and there­fore more pos­i­tive prospects for con­ser­va­tion and restora­tion of nature. This the­ory accounts for the bot­tle­neck of pres­sures nature has expe­ri­enced over the last few hun­dred years and sug­gests a pos­si­ble break­through when pres­sures relax in the future — depen­dent, of course, on the national and inter­na­tional poli­cies that coun­tries choose to employ. Not shown are the effects of cities on ideation and tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment, which can either enhance or dimin­ish rates of extrac­tion and pol­lu­tion, depend­ing on socio­cul­tural val­ues and incen­tives.
(Source: Eric W Sander­son, Joseph Wal­ston, and John G Robin­son, 2018. From Bot­tle­neck to Break­through: Urban­iza­tion and the Future of Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion. Bio­Science)
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These con­sid­er­a­tions lead the authors to sug­gest that within our gen­er­a­tion, or the gen­er­a­tion to fol­low, if soci­ety makes the right moves now, there could be pos­si­bil­i­ties for rewil­d­ing unimag­in­able to pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of conservationists.

They call their think­ing “From Bot­tle­neck to Break­through.” Recog­ni­tion of the mas­sive demo­graphic, eco­nomic and urban­iza­tion trends sug­gest that con­ser­va­tion will best suc­ceed if we pro­tect the world’s threat­ened wildlife and wild places through the bot­tle­neck; cre­ate safe, attrac­tive, sus­tain­able cities; encour­age bet­ter con­sumer choices by cost­ing in the envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits or harms of dif­fer­ent resources and pol­lu­tants; and by inspir­ing all peo­ple and all insti­tu­tions of the world to care for, rather than destroy, the nat­ural bases of life on Earth.

(Source: WCS news release, 23.04.2018)

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Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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