New research suggests wildlife cannot flourish in small isolated reserves

Small pockets of protected areas, separated by inhospitable farmlands, are not sufficient to preserve wildlife.

In an article written for The Conversation, David Williams discusses his new research with Carlo Rondini and David Tilman, which sheds light on current issues with expanding protected natural areas. 

In 2010, the governments of the world set targets to mitigate the global biodiversity crisis – the one they came closest to achieving was increasing the percentage of land under protection. These areas have been a focus for global conservation for decades, as they can stop or slow down the factors that endanger biodiversity such as habitat loss, hunting and pollution.

However, Williams explains that this would only be possible if the reserves are in the right areas and large enough to sustain the populations of various species. His study found that thousands of species are, in fact, not properly protected. 

Perhaps most concerning, 91% of the world’s threatened mammals – many of which are already the focus of conservation efforts – were under-protected, and hundreds of these species appear to have no viable protected populations at all.

David Williams, School of Earth and Environment

Due to the increasing pressure on areas outside these reserves, wildlife populations will continue to be at risk of decline or worse – extinction. Williams addresses that in real life, the situation is probably worse than the findings of the study as ideal measures are not followed everywhere to maintain the preserves.

Williams concludes the article by suggesting that protected areas need to be strategically expandeded to support the long-term survival of species. Besides that, expansion projects historically have been driven by colonialism and disenfranchisement of indigenous communities. Therefore, in the future, these projects should be carried out fairly to support local people.

Furthermore, there should be an emphasis to reduce our global footprint altogether by adapting to a healthier, plant-rich diets, reducing food waste, and focussing on sustainable yield increases to free up land to turn them into efficient areas for wildlife conservation.

Further Information

Find the original article on the Conversation website.

Read the aforementioned study here.

Picture credits: Magda Ehlers/Pexels