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'Hunting of Wildlife in Tropical Forests: Implications for Biodiversity and Forest Peoples,' by Elizabeth Bennett and John Robinson from the Wildlife Conservation Society

Summary "Hunting for wild meat in tropical forests, especially with increasing commercialization, is both extirpating many species of mammals and birds and destroying a critical resource base for forest-dwelling people. This report describes the extent of the crisis, and summarizes its implications for biodiversity conservation and the well-being of tropical forest peoples. Recommendations are made on institutional ways to control the trade and economic mechanisms to reduce demand."

Comment: In more than 61 countries around the world, rural families obtain at least twenty percent of their animal protein from wild game and fish. In West Africa, fully one quarter of the population's protein comes from bush meat. Each year, local people in Sarawk, Malaysia eat 75 million dollars worth of such meat. In the Amazon Basin as a whole people consume more than 175 million dollars worth. The total catch from hunting in the Congo Basin exceeds over one million tons of wild meat each year. That is a lot of meat!

People also catch live animals to sell, and they hunt them to protect theircrops from pests, as part of cultural rituals, and for other reasons.

'Hunting of Wildlife in Tropical Forests: Implications for Biodiversity and Forest Peoples,' by Elizabeth Bennett and John Robinson from the Wildlife Conservation Society, provides ample evidence that much of this hunting is unsustainable. Moderately or heavily hunted forests have a much lower mammal density. Vulnerable species often disappear entirely from these areas. This means fewer cute and cuddly animals, less protein and income for rural families, and greater hunger. Furthermore, changes in animal populations can alter other components of the ecosystem by affecting seed survival and dispersal, as well as the ratios of preditors to prey.

Hunters go after a wide range of mammals, birds, and reptiles, although typically a major proportion of bush meat comes from large hoofed animals and monkeys. Animals that travel in packs, move slowly, make loud noises, or don't reproduce frequently are especially vulnerable. Old growth tropical rainforests generally produce less bush meat per hectare than savannas, grasslands, and secondary forest, so hunting there often takes a much heavier toll.

The hunting problem has worsened as populations in forested areas have increased and become more sedentary. Migrants who lack traditional norms for regulating hunting have moved in. Widespread encroachment of logging crews into the forest has proven especially problematic. Better access to the forest and improved hunting technologies - such as the introduction of firearms, wire snares, flashlights, dogs, motorbikes and outboard motors - have helped deplete game species. In many African and Asian countries, people actually consume more wild meat as their incomes rises, since they prefer it to other foods. In contrast, when given the option, Latin Americans generally prefer to purchase beef or chicken.

The authors recognize that few attempts to regulate hunting have proved effective in the tropics. They suggest greater efforts to promote community wildlife management, increased monitoring of logging companies, and continued support for protected areas.

Information from: The Forest Policy Experts (POLEX) electronic listserve is a free service of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).


'Bruner, A. et al. (2001): Effectiveness of Parks in Protecting Tropical Biodiversity'

Title: Tropical parks need more support
Source:  Copyright 2001 BBC News Online
Date:  January 5, 2001
Byline:  Alex Kirby, environment correspondent

North American researchers say tropical parks, despite widespread doubts about their utility, are an effective way of protecting species and habitats. They say that parks are a good strategy for conservation, and deserve more support. And they argue for the establishment of new parks to help to meet the threats to biodiversity. Tropical parks have been surprisingly effective at protecting the ecosystems and species within their borders, better at guarding against some threats than others.

The team, from the Washington-DC based group Conservation International and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, publish their findings in the journal Science. They looked at conservation areas ranging in size from the small Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Ghana (5,300 hectares) to the vast Serengeti National Park in Tanzania (1,476,300 hectares)

Broad improvement

In total, they assessed the impacts of human threats on 93 protected areas in 22 tropical countries to test the parks' effectiveness in protecting biodiversity, using a questionnaire to collect data on a number of issues. These included land-use pressure (land clearing, logging, hunting, grazing and fire), local conditions (for example, the presence of human settlements and the degree of access to the parks), and management activities, such as the number of guards and the level of community involvement in the park management. All the parks they studied had been in existence for at least five years. Part of the study involved assessing the parks' effectiveness at preventing land clearing by comparing the current extent of clearing with that at the time the park was established.

'Substantial achievement'

The authors write: "We found that 43% of the parks have had no net clearing since establishment. In an additional 40%, land formerly under cultivation was incorporated into park boundaries, and had been able to recover, leading to an actual increase in vegetative cover. This is a substantial achievement." A comparison of the human impacts within the parks with those in the 10-km belt surrounding them showed that "the parks in our sample are under great pressure from clearing, hunting and logging, and, to a lesser extent, fire and grazing". Yet the researchers conclude: "A comparison of the conditions inside the parks with the surrounding area shows that for all five threats, parks were in significantly better condition than their surrounding areas." Parks, though, are rather less effective at withstanding some pressures, like logging and hunting, than land clearance, where most remain either intact or only slightly cleared.

Guarding influence

The research team also investigated what model of park management appeared to work best. "Park effectiveness," they say, "correlated most strongly with density of guards. "The median density of guards in the 15 most effective parks was more than eight times higher than in the 15 least effective. "However, enforcement capacity (a composite variable of training, equipment and salary) was not found to correlate with effectiveness, suggesting that these characteristics are less important than the presence of guards." The authors also found a "significant" correlation between effectiveness and the level of deterrents applied to illegal activities, though deterrence seemed less effective against hunting than other threats.


Laurance, W.F. et al. (2001): The Future of the Brazilian Amazon. Science 291:5503 pp. 438-439

The Brazilian Amazon is currently experiencing the world's highest absolute rate of forest destruction and is likely to suffer even greater degradation in the future because of government plans to invest $40 billion from 2000 to 2007 in dozens of major new highways and infrastructure projects. We developed two computer models that integrate spatial data on deforestation, logging, mining, highways and roads, navigable rivers, vulnerability to wildfires, protected areas, and existing and planned infrastructure projects, in an effort to predict the condition of Brazilian Amazonian forests by the year 2020. Both models suggest that the region's forests will be drastically altered by current development schemes and land-use trends over the next 20 years.

W. F. Laurance is a research scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa, Panamá, and Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (BDFFP), National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA), C.P. 478, Manaus, AM 69011-970, Brazil.

The whole article can be viewed using a link at the bottom of the homepage http://forests.org


GTZ & BfN (2000): Naturschutz in Entwicklungsländern "Neue Ansätze für den Erhalt der biologischen Vielfalt"

Naturschutz spielt heute in der Zusammenarbeit Deutschlands mit Entwicklungsländern eine wichtige Rolle: Über 150 von Deutschland geförderte Projekte haben sich zum Ziel gesetzt, die biologische Vielfalt zu schützen und ihre Bestandteile nachhaltig zu nutzen. In diesem Buch stellen 37 Autoren aus Naturschutz und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit Vorgehensweisen, methodische Ansätze und Konzepte vor, und zeichnen so ein umfassendes Bild von den spezifischen Aufgaben und Problemen des Naturschutzes in Entwicklungsländern.

herausgegeben von: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH und
Bundesamt für Naturschutz, Internationale Naturschutzakademie Insel Vilm (2000), Kasparek Verlag Kasparek@t-online.de ISBN 3-925064-29-x

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Sven Wunder: 'The Economics of Deforestation, The Example of Ecuador'

CIFOR's Sven Wunder has prepared a good new book for a Happy New Year. 'The Economics of Deforestation, The Example of Ecuador' (Macmillan Press) skillfully reviews the deforestation debates in Latin America and provides fresh material on Ecuador.

People often say 'we need to make forestry profitable so landowners will not clear their forests to plant crops'. That may hold in certain contexts, but in highland Ecuador and many other places, logging and fuelwood extraction are just the first stage in a cycle that that begins with logging and is followed by crops, pasture, and fallow. Anything that increases the value of timber and charcoal simply provides additional incentives and resources to accelerate that process.

Wunder uses price, cost, and productivity data from highland Ecuador to simulate the profitability of the typical land use cycle under different scenarios. When farmers don't have secure land tenure, they can expect to obtain much lower profits. That may make them less likely to clear the forest. This result is consistent with a growing number of studies from Latin America suggesting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, providingsecure land tenure may actually promote deforestation.

Not surprisingly, Wunder finds that access to credit and markets makes forest clearing more profitable. That makes investment in general more likely, and forest clearing is one major type of investment. Since purchasing cattle requires a lot of money, farmers without access to credit will concentrate more on forest products and crops. Farmers with limited access to markets may devote more attention to cattle because the animals can walk themselves to roads and markets.

The highlands have played a much greater role in recent deforestation in Ecuador than many people realize. Although the Amazon region holds about half of Ecuador's 15 million hectares of forest, both the highlands and the coast still have major forest resources. The area in crops in Ecuador barely budged between 1972 and 1989, but pasture expanded by almost four million hectares, and most of that increase came in the highlands and the coast, rather than in the Amazon.

Wunder's book also discusses links between deforestation and macroeconomics, the role of poverty and population, and the dynamics of local forest product markets. Uplands and lowlands, Central America and Brazil -- it's all there.

To obtain a free electronic summary of Wunder's book or information on how to purchase the book itself or to send comments, you can write Sven Wunder at s.wunder@cgiar.org

Cited from Polex: The Forest Policy Experts (POLEX) electronic listserve is a free service ofthe Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

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