A recent study published in the journal Nature that included over 200 scientists from around the world found that many nature reserves are facing a threat to their biodiversity through mismanagement and insufficient enforcement of reserve borders. The study involved the collection of standardised data on environmental changes over the past 20–30 years in 60 protected areas across the world’s major tropical regions of Africa, America and Asia.
“Biodiversity is declining rapidly at reserves including Kahuzi Biega in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Xishuangbanna in southern China, and Northern Sierra Madre in the Philippines, among others,” said co-author William Laurance, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. “Reserves that are doing relatively well include Bwindi Impenetrable N.P. in Uganda, Santa Rosa in Costa Rica, and Los Amigos in Peru.”
The research team found that around half of the reserves are experiencing a loss of biodiversity. The study reported an increase in deforestation, by natural and human causes, which is advancing rapidly in some tropical nations and their reserves.
The study also noted that the activities of illegal hunters and loggers have led to a loss of species’ population, including primates, older trees, and stream-dwelling fish and amphibians in nature reserves.
The findings of the study suggested that those who are responsible for conservation must be more vigilant to these threats. The study identified the importance of building support at both the local community level and the national level. They added that ensuring the protection of these area also allows them to be more resilient to the results of climate change.
Laurance said: “We have no choice. Tropical forests are the biologically richest real estate on the planet, and a lot of that biodiversity will vanish without good protected areas.”