The transformation of the energy basis of human society from wind and wood to fossil fuels has given the world a new type of adaptation - urban-industrial society - which is producing a massive transformation of the biological functions of the earth. The growth, productivity, and dominance of the human species has reached unprecedented heights, which may ultimately threaten human life on earth. However, humans typically respond to such threats with thoughtful and deliberate attempts to reduce the threat. The current threat is no exception, and it is producing much thought and action on both scientific and political fronts.
Not the least among such actions is the attempt to understand and to deal more effectively with the dynamic interaction of population, resources, and the environment. This chapter represents one small contribution to this vast topic. It focuses on an important and somewhat neglected arena: the relationship among people, protected areas, and biodiversity.
This relationship presents an especially challenging problem for three main reasons. First, the concept of biodiversity itself is new and still somewhat imprecise in both its scientific and policy implications (WRI, IUCN, and UNEP, 1992). Second, the idea of protected areas (of which the national park is the most well-known category) has been built on a distinctly misanthropic foundation: it assumes that people are destructive of a pristine nature that needs to be protected against human depredation. The solution to the problem thus defined has often been stringent legislation, fences, and armed guards to keep people out. Only recently has it been generally recognized that humans are not necessarily inimical to nature and that local people need to derive benefits from protected areas if they are to be expected to support conservation efforts (McNeely and Miller, 1984; Western and Wright, 1994; McNeely, et al., 1994). This radical transformation from excluding people to including them as part of conservation efforts is by no means complete. Finally, although considerable information has been collected about the dynamics of the human population, especially its demographic dynamics, much of this information comes from censuses and large-scale sample surveys of populations. Protected areas, however, typically involve small and often sparsely settled populations, for which the large-scale survey techniques do not necessarily offer appropriate insights.
This chapter addresses such problems, beginning with a discussion of biodiversity. A consideration of the modern view of protected areas and a review of current knowledge of human population dynamics follows. A series of issues central to developing a better understanding of how people and protected areas affect biodiversity is then identified. Suggestions for a research agenda that will lead to improved understanding of the people-parks-biodiversity interface concludes the chapter.
One of the most influential publications in recent years was Our Common Future, the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, 1987). While remarkably silent on the population issue, it led to the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 (which similarly almost completely ignored population), several new conventions, and a significant expansion of government interest in the environment. But the term biological diversity does not appear anywhere in Our Common Future. It is a new phrase in the international lexicon, carrying new meanings and new implications for the way conservation problems are addressed. It also provides new opportunities for protected area managers, community leaders, demographers, and social scientists, as will be discussed in this chapter.
The Global Biodiversity Strategy (WRI, IUCN, UNEP, 1992) defines biological diversity (or biodiversity) as the measure of the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region. More formally, as defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity, it means "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems" (UNEP, 1992).
Biodiversity is valuable because humans cannot know what will be an asset in the future, because variety is inherently interesting and more attractive, and because our understanding of ecosystems is insufficient to be certain of the role and the impact of removing any component. Many people will agree that it is injudicious and short-sighted to sacrifice ecosystem functioning and redundancy in order to achieve short-term financial and economic objectives, especially since lower species diversity and less biotic regulation of energy flow and biogeochemical cycles may have profound implications for humanity.
Biodiversity is important for another, and perhaps more basic, reason. It is a fundamental condition of life itself. Although the Gaia hypothesis (Lovelock, 1988) remains moot, it still captures some truth. All life forms depend in some manner on other life forms for their very existence. Even in human life, our capacity to recognize stimuli depends on their variety. As Heron et al. (1957) remarked in their now classical studies of boredom and monotony, "Variety is not just the spice of life, it is the stuff of life."
Biological diversity as defined above sounds rather all-inclusive, and governments are finding difficulty in translating the concept into a regulatory framework (Dudley, 1992). But the concept has proved to be extremely useful, building on information, knowledge, awareness, and ethics to include a complex mixture of protected areas, population, development models, agriculture, economics, intellectual property rights, land tenure, trade, and so forth in discussions about conservation (see Figure 1). Figure 1 shows how protected areas fit into the fabric of society and suggests ways the various interests involved can work together toward common objectives: the conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of biological resources, and equitable sharing of benefits from these activities.
The comprehensive approach represented by the term biodiversity has enabled governments and conservation organizations to break away from some of the old but ineffective measures carried out in the name of "conservation," such as excluding people from their traditional lands. It has spawned the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed by 157 governments at the Earth Summit in Rio in June 1992, entered into force at the end of 1993, and was ratified by some 114 countries by February 1995. The World Resources Institute, IUCN, and UNEP published the Global Biodiversity Strategy in 1992.
UNEP has promoted numerous biodiversity country studies, and several countries have prepared biodiversity strategies or action plans. New journals on biodiversity have come out in at least five countries, and new courses on biodiversity are being offered by universities. Literally dozens of books have been published and conferences held in all parts of the world to further develop the concept of biodiversity and build global consensus for the actions required to conserve it.
All this activity has led to a significant increase in international and domestic funding for biodiversity, including US$315 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) during its 1991- 1994 pilot phase and roughly twice that amount in its second phase. Bilateral funding has also been substantial. Various U.S. sources contributed $105 million in 1991, the most recent date for which figures are available. This amount is a substantial increase over the $37.5 million funded in 1987 (Abramovitz, 1994).
The Convention on Biological Diversity represents in many ways the modern synthesis of conservation and development. Box 1 outlines its principles, and Box 2 highlights its major measures that are relevant to this chapter.
A major paradox looms. On the one hand is the observation that the growth of the human population has inevitably led to the destruction of habitat and thus the reduction of biodiversity (Sadik, 1991). The often quoted calculation of Vitousek et al., (1986) that the human species now appropriates some 40% of the earth's primary production is also worrisome. On the other hand, extensive historical and anthropological observations have documented many human uses of the environment that increase biodiversity. Since the former view tends to dominate discussions of people and biodiversity, this author will emphasize the latter in this chapter. In the final analysis, however, both destructive and productive processes are at work. The basic research questions derived from this examination will seek to identify: 1) the conditions that affect whether destructive or productive processes dominate at any specific location, and; 2) what conditions are likely to lead in which direction.
The view of nature conservation that has tended to dominate international thinking over the past century sees humans as intruders into nature, valuing "pristine nature" as the ideal to be retained. However, humans have occupied Africa for millions of years; Asia and Europe for several hundred thousand years; Australia for 50,000 years or so; and the Americas for at least 12,000 years. Humans have played an important role in forming the ecosystems that are today considered "natural." Many of the tree species now dominant in the mature vegetation of tropical areas were, and still are, the same species protected, spared, or planted in the land cleared for crops as part of the practice of shifting agriculture (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1992). As a result, the current pattern of habitats reflects complex interactions among physical, biological, and social forces over time. The resulting landscape is an ever-changing mosaic of unmanaged and managed patches of habitat, which vary in size, shape, and arrangement owing to the heritage of cultivated fields and managed forests abandoned years, decades, or centuries ago.
|Contracting parties agree to:
Whereas human activity can certainly deplete ecosystems, as can be observed by the wide expanses of wasteland found in many countries, the influence of local people can sometimes increase biodiversity rather than deplete it. Examples follow:
Conserving maximum biodiversity thus in no way demands leaving environments "natural" since species diversity within a given ecosystem may not necessarily increase through habitat succession (Sprugel, 1991; Holling, 1986). In any case, people have had a profound influence in determining so-called "natural" habitats (Gomez-Pompa and Kaus, 1992; McNeely, 1994). Genetic diversity can be enhanced or reduced by the system of management applied, based on the understanding of the vegetation or wildlife population dynamics on which the management is based (Maini, 1992). A lack of active management, for example, an attempt to completely exclude human intervention, may reduce genetic diversity, although in other circumstances it may be necessary for conserving specific genetic resources. The problem of excess elephant populations in some parts of Africa is a good illustration of the dynamics involved (Buss, 1990). The most species-rich areas are likely to be those with a rich mixture of habitats, including secondary forest in various stages of ecological succession, where the fire regime mimics nature and judicious wildlife management prevents any species from becoming over-dominant.
In fact, more biodiversity exists in the agricultural, pastoral, forestry, and other human-managed ecosystems than in protected areas because these managed systems cover 80% of the world's terrestrial environment (Pimentel et al., 1992). Biological diversity in agricultural, fisheries, and forestry systems can be best conserved by maintaining abundant biomass and plant and habitat diversity; conserving soil, water, and biomass resources; and reducing the use of pesticides and similar toxic chemicals in agriculture and forestry. Maintaining this biological diversity is essential for productive agriculture, fisheries, and forestry; ecologically sustainable agriculture, fisheries, and forestry systems are essential for maintaining biological diversity. A productive natural partnership therefore seems to be possible, under certain conditions, between local people and protected areas managed for biodiversity-related objectives, especially when the local people can participate with a true sense of ownership and when the value of their local knowledge is given due recognition.
The historical approach to conservation is clearly manifested in "protected areas," which often sought to exclude people from designated areas deemed important to national interests. Governments in all parts of the world already have made a substantial investment in protected areas. While such areas are often located in remote or mountainous regions with relatively few economic alternatives, the allocation of land to conservation uses is still impressive. It amounts to over 6% of the land set aside throughout the world; over 10% in Australia, North America, and Europe; and nearly 10% in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Pacific (see Box 3) (McNeely et al., 1994).
| Categories I-V* |
|N. Africa & Middle East||11,689,075||332,732||2.85|
|S. and SE Asia||8,448,801||503,363||5.96|
Protected areas are frequently considered to be on the front lines in the battle to conserve biodiversity. Since these areas are often selected and managed specifically to protect species and ecosystems of outstanding societal value from human degradation, they are often the sites that raise highly contentious debates between local and national interests. These controversies also focus on the distribution of costs and benefits to individuals and the larger society.
Thus, considerable challenges await those seeking to build a more positive relationship between people and protected areas. More protected areas (Box 4) are being called upon to make greater contributions to society with less means of doing so; the total area protected has increased nearly 40% in the past decade, but budgets have seldom kept pace. Stronger support for management of these areas is clearly needed. Using protected areas to preserve biodiversity may give protected area managers the fresh new perspective that will enable them to earn the broader backing they so desperately seek. As the Caracas Action Plan, prepared at the IVth World Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas, pointed out, using protected areas to preserve biodiversity suggests that protected areas can take advantage of new opportunities to make these areas more relevant to the needs of society, and especially local communities. This can be done through four steps (McNeely, 1993):
The second and third points are especially relevant to this chapter.
|Region|| % Area|
up to 1962
| % Area|
| % Area |
|N. Africa and the Middle East||1.4||9.1||28.2||61.4|
|South Asia and Southeast Asia||7.5||4.4||53.5||34.6|
A protected area is a geographically defined area managed through legal or other effective means so as to protect and maintain biological diversity and natural and associated cultural resources (IUCN, 1994). Some protected areas have been designed to exclude people; the IUCN definition of national park (Category II) calls for ecosystems "not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation" and expects governments "to prevent or eliminate as soon as possible exploitation or occupation in the whole area" (IUCN, 1990). The virtual extinction of the Ik people who were dispossessed with the establishment of Kidepo National Park in Uganda is only the most extreme illustration of a problem that has been repeated throughout the world (West and Brechin, 1991; Machlis and Tichnell, 1985). On the other hand, the number of people displaced through the creation of protected areas is relatively limited, and in any case the number is likely to be tiny in comparison with the many millions who have lost their livelihood because of land degradation, deforestation, dam construction, or inappropriate development.
In addition, the ideal of the pristine national park is seldom attained, even in fairly wealthy countries. For example, 86% of South American IUCN Category II National Parks have permanent human occupation (Amend and Amend, 1992). Governments are adapting IUCN's ideal to the reality of local conditions. In India, rights of grazing, agriculture, and collection of forest products such as fodder and firewood are provided to local people in nearly half of the 52 national parks and in over two-thirds of the 209 sanctuaries (IIPA, 1989). This compromise may in fact be necessary to enable protected areas to make their larger contributions to society. More coercive governments, on the other hand, may still attempt to eject local people, sometimes for conservation reasons and at other times in order to earn foreign exchange from the use of reserved wilderness areas by wealthy hunters living in industrialized countries (West and Brechin, 1991).
To promote a more positive relationship between people and protected areas, IUCN's new system of categories of protected areas (IUCN, 1994) recognizes that humans and protected areas can coexist productively under some management regimes. For example, Category V, Protected Landscape/Seascape, includes areas of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, "where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area." Category VI, Managed Resource Protected Areas, is defined as an "area containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long-term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs." Box 5 provides more details on the IUCN system of categorizing protected areas.
An analysis of the distribution of protected areas in the various IUCN categories leads to some useful conclusions. As shown in Box 6, Category III is relatively unimportant, and the sites tend to be small. Nearly half the world's total area under legal protection is in the category of national parks, but these areas are so large (mean size: 2,595 sq. km) that they include only about 18% of the number of sites. The most strictly protected category, Category I, is most prominent in North Eurasia, where the former Soviet Union established a large number of extensive Strict Nature Reserves. These sites are now sources of contention in the new republics.
|I. Strict Nature Reserve/Wilderness Area. Areas of land or sea
or both possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems,
geological or physiological features, and species, or some combination
of the features, available primarily for scientific research and
environmental monitoring or both; or large areas of unmodified
or slightly modified land or sea or both, retaining their natural
character and influence, without permanent or significant habitation,
which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural
II. National Park: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Ecosystem Conservation and Recreation. Natural areas of land or sea or both, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for this and future generations; (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area; and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.
III.Natural Monument: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Conservation of Specific Features. Areas containing one, or more, specific natural or natural/cultural feature that is of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities, or cultural significance.
IV. Habitat/Species Management Area: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Conservation Through Management Intervention. Areas of land and/or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes so as to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/or to meet the requirements of specific species.
V.Protected Landscape/Seascape: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Landscape/Seascape Conservation and Recreation. Areas of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, cultural and/or ecological value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance, and evolution of such an area.
VI. Managed Resource Protected Area: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for the Sustainable Use of Natural Ecosystems. Areas containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long-term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs.
|N. Africa/Middle East||5.0||31.7||0.0||52.8||10.3|
South Asia and|
|Total number of sites |
|Mean percentage of sites||8.5||17.6||3.7||45.7||24.5|
|Mean size of sites (sq. km)||706.4||2595.0||674.2||604.7||420.2|
Relatively densely populated parts of the world, such as Europe, East Asia, and South Asia and Southeast Asia, tend to have relatively extensive areas in Categories IV or V. However, on a global basis, sites in these categories tend to be much smaller than national parks.
McNeely et al. (1994) have pointed out some of the limitations of using such statistics. For example, regions with many small protected areas are underrepresented. Europe, for example, has many thousands of protected areas smaller than the 10 sq. km required for listing under the IUCN system; Sweden alone has 1,200 nature reserves totaling 4,300 sq. km, reserves that are too small to be listed under IUCN's system.
In addition, many protected areas, often managed by sectors such as forestry, serve an important conservation function but fall in Category VI, a category in which data are very limited. In Southeast Asia, for example, almost 500 areas amounting to approximately 20% of all protected areas are in Category VI. In contrast, appproximately 43% of the total number of protected areas in Central America are found in this category, areas covering some 33,000 sq. km, or 6%, of Central America's land surface. North Eurasia (the former Soviet Union) has nearly 2,000 Category VI sanctuary areas that are not included in these statistics. These sanctuary areas, however, cover more than 670,000 sq. km, nearly triple the area protected under IUCN Categories I-V.
While these statistics have some weaknesses, they still indicate that different regions have dealt with protected areas in very different ways. New Zealand, Australia, North America, Central America, and sub-Saharan Africa depend very much on national parks, while the other regions tend to give greater attention to alternative management approaches. These alternatives in Categories IV and V tend to give greater emphasis to the needs of local people, an emphasis which is carried a step further in Category VI.
This new system of protected areas categories is built at least partly on anthropological studies of forest-dwelling peoples, studies which have undermined the idea that strict protection is necessary to conserve biodiversity. Many traditional societies have developed highly adaptive behavioral rules for survival, supported by a coherent belief system with a foundation of strongly motivating values that make the challenges of existence in an unpredictable world endurable. Reichel-Dolmatoff (1976) demonstrated that aboriginal cosmologies and myth structures, together with the ritual behavior derived from them, reflect a set of ecological principles. These principles constitute a system of social and economic rules that have a highly adaptive value in the continuous struggle to maintain a balance between the resources of the environment and the demands of society.
For example, the Tukano Indians in the northwest Amazon of Colombia perceive their environment as man-made, transformed and structured by the exploitative activities of their ancestors and given symbolic meaning by them. They conceive the world as a system in which the amount of energy output is directly related to the amount of input the system receives. Their ethno-biological knowledge is a structured, disciplined knowledge based upon a long tradition of inquiry that is learned as part of the intellectual equipment for biological and cultural survival. Factual knowledge about biological reality is considered essential to survival because people must bring themselves into conformity with nature if they want to exist as part of nature's unity, and they must fit their demands to nature's availabilities.
Their mythology tells of animal species that have become extinct or that were punished or degraded for not obeying certain prescribed rules of adaptive significance. Thus, gluttony, improvidence, aggressiveness, and all forms of overindulgence are punished by the superior forces. The forces serve as examples not only to the animal community but also to human society. Animals, then, are metaphors for survival. The Tukano analyze animal behavior, so they can discover an order in the physical world, a world order to which human activities can then be adjusted (Reichel-Dolmatoff, 1976).
The example of the Takano Indians demonstrates that people who have learned to live in the forest have adapted to limited resources. Many of them are excellent resource managers, under traditional conditions. They did not need protected areas to conserve biodiversity, but protected areas may need moderate human influences to maintain biodiversity.
Central governments are beginning to see advantages in planning and managing protected areas with the involvement of indigenous people. In November 1991, Brazil's President Fernando Color de Melo issued a decree to give the Yanomami, the largest Indian group in the Amazon rainforest, partial control of their traditional lands. The decree came after apparent last-ditch efforts by the Brazilian military to prevent it because the Yanomami lands, in the north of the Amazon Basin, include the border with Venezuela, a militarily sensitive area. The decree comes as part of a zoning process that will divide the forest into zones for a) protected areas, traditional Indian farming and hunting, or for rubber tappers and others who use the forest without destroying it; and b) those areas where logging, roads, mines, dams, and other ecologically destructive development can take place.
Other groups are also recognizing the value of protected areas. For example, several rural villages in the area of Loreto, in northeast Peru, have sought local control over access to natural resources by establishing communal reserves. The 322,500 hectare "Reserva Communal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo" was legally established in February 1992 and is divided into a fully protected core area and an area of subsistence use. Programs implemented to control exploitation include prohibiting the use of nets and lances in the reserve ox-bow lakes during low-water seasons and permitting only hook-and-line methods. The local communities also forbid entry of commercial fisheries and control the use of illegal fish poison. Fish populations in the area appear to be rebuilding, and the local communities are directly benefiting from their self-imposed management programs (Bodmer, Penn, Fang, and Moya, 1991).
Establishing protected areas brings significant changes to the remote areas where most such areas have been established. The people living in those areas have long depended on the natural resources that have been available to them. Some rural people complain about protected areas because they are not allowed to harvest resources from these areas without restriction. On the other hand, such restrictions only cause hardship in the relatively short term because such policies are not prohibitions as much as rationing. If the resources of the protected area had been openly available, it is unlikely that any of the desired resources would be available now. For example, Chitwan National Park in Nepal is the only available source of grass used for thatch and other construction purposes: all of the unprotected grassland in the region is densely settled and cultivated (Roberts and Johnson, 1985).
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