Chapter 2: Recommendations
The policy and field-oriented scientific research priorities recommended by the authors are as follows:
1. Scientific research must be undertaken to better understand how human population dynamics are linked with biodiversity loss and protection. Specifically, research should be conducted on existing knowledge, population dynamics, biodiversity, resource consumption, local people, and social, cultural and economic issues.
A. Existing Knowledge
- Analyze existing scientific data, information, and knowledge on the linkages between population, biodiversity, and protected areas; relevant government and non-governmental policies; and, success stories, so that lessons learned and gaps in knowledge and understanding can be identified and utilized.
B. Population Dynamics
- Determine how population dynamics that may affect protected areas (such as rapid population growth, in and out migration, tourism, refugees, population density, urbanization, and population distribution) impacts biodiversity in protected areas; what are the root causes of the specific population dynamic(s) that affect protected areas; and, the effects on biodiversity and protected areas in the short and long term.
- Identify the demographic data that exists and is relevant to a specific protected area site, then collect and analyze new demographic data that will be relevant to ecosystem management at the local level. (Most existing population data is collected within political boundaries, which is not relevant to the needs of ecosystem managers.)
- Identify what attracts people to protected areas, why they move away, and the impact on the area's biodiversity as a result of this movement.
- Determine what population pressures are most relevant to environmental conservationists and field workers at local project sites; how an understanding of these population pressures can be incorporated into biodiversity project planning and implementation from international to local levels; how interdisciplinary scientific research can be encouraged around protected areas, and; how people can be trained to appreciate or deal with population issues across the relevant disciplines.
- Identify the parameters beyond which biodiversity is no longer sustainable.
- Undertake an assessment of biodiversity at the genetic species, ecosystem, and habitat levels in order to define sustainable human uses of biodiversity.
- Estimate maximum "sustainable off-take per capita" in a given ecosystem that is required to maintain its biodiversity (this estimate reflects the limits to which a habitat can be degraded by humans before it is irretrievable).
- Identify how to measure the balance between human uses and a minimum level of sustainable biodiversity, and how to determine the number of species and which species to save in the face of inevitable short and long term population and consumption pressures.
- Determine the reasons why individuals and society both protect and degrade biodiversity, (for example, introduction and elimination of plant and animal species from protected area sites and habitat destruction), and how biodiversity can be protected given current and future population and consumption pressures.
- Identify how "biodiversity economics," including the purchasing of plants or intellectual rights to the genetic material of species, and ethical issues are affected by population growth (e.g. migration or refugees), population decrease (e.g. rural-out-migration, loss of indigenous peoples), and tourism, and how biodiversity can be protected by the creation of new economic incentives.
- Identify the styles of protected area management that integrate or can integrate population pressures into their management plans;
- Determine how population dynamics affect biodiversity-rich aquatic resources including coral reefs, fresh water systems, oceans, coastal areas, marine fisheries, and other marine life.
D. Resource Consumption
- Determine the resource consumption and pollution aspects linked with population dynamics and which aspects most affect biodiversity and protected areas; how consumption of natural resources by local people and temporary residents affects ecosystems; how foreign and market driven demand for the resources affect the site; how pollution resulting from near and remote consumption affects biodiversity; projections for the rates of consumption and pollution in the near and long term, and how regional and global changes such as acid rain and climate change affect local biodiversity.
- Identify local and foreign economic market incentives; how increases in population will affect these markets and how these increases can be addressed to maintain local biodiversity. (This process includes determining economic incentives and disincentives as well as natural resource valuation that considers environmental impacts.)
- Determine the trends and impacts of consumptive versus non-consumptive use of biodiversity resources in protected areas with developing and developed country implications, and how non-consumptive uses can be encouraged so as to maintain biodiversity.
E. Local People
- Determine how local and indigenous peoples are associated with the biodiversity and protected areas; the population dynamics of the indigenous peoples and how that affects biodiversity conservation; the needs of the local people and their uses of biodiversity and the protected areas; how they can be involved in every aspect of understanding and maintaining biodiversity; the economic relationships between local people and protected areas and how these relationships can be changed to maintain sustainability.
- Determine what information about local people is needed by protected area managers so that their efforts to conserve biodiversity are in harmony with the needs of indigenous peoples, and how the knowledge of protected area managers can be transferred on an ongoing basis to scientists and field workers.
- Develop an understanding of who decides what natural areas to protect; what population considerations are and how they should be applied when choosing to protect a specific area; how local people are involved in that decision, and how the decision influences the lives of local people.
- Determine the costs and benefits to the local people of protected areas and conserving biodiversity and how knowledge of the costs and benefits can contribute to maintaining biodiversity.
F. Social, Cultural, Economic Issues
- Identify how social cultural economic and political issues such as gender, poverty, education, land tenure, legal rights, trade, debt, and government policies affect the local population-biodiversity relationship.
- Determine what is known about how gender relates to the population-biodiversity relationship; how differences in gender and culture can be appreciated in relation to population and biodiversity issues; and the specific gender and age impacts on biological resources.
- Identify the role of women in the development, planning, implementation, and governance of protected area management with particular reference to the population impacts on biodiversity and how women can be integrated at all levels in efforts to link population and biodiversity protection.
2. For scientific research to be effective it must:
- Include population as an issue when addressing all aspects of the scientific research and management of biodiversity and protected areas, and integrate demographic projections and relevant scientific population data into planning for and managing biodiversity in protected areas;
- Be interdisciplinary in response to a multi-faceted, cross-sectoral topic since population dynamics and their effects on biodiversity are influenced by an array of social cultural and economic factors;
- Be both policy and field driven and explicitly linked to policy and field activities so it will be relevant to policy maker and field practitioners;
- Be site-specific since each protected area has distinct characteristics and require different solutions, however, analysis of the local sites must be transferred to national and international levels so their policies reflect local realities;
- Target geographic areas that area considered "population-biodiversity hot spots," that is, areas with significant population pressures with protected areas that are rich in biodiversity;
- Develop short and long term scenarios of population impacts on biodiversity in protected areas by projecting population and consumption trends - for instance, create various scenarios based upon natural population growth, migration, tourism, etc. and project the best and worst case scenarios.
3. Policy makers and institutions - including foundations, international, national, and local organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies including the Global Environment Facility, and academic institutions must do the following:
- Fund the scientific research proposed herein, institutions such as US Agency for International Development should fund policy research that supports its global environment and population efforts;
- Create mechanisms to develop and support a new crop of students, professionals, and practitioners to pursue and maintain careers in population, environment, and biodiversity as one interdisciplinary field; these institutions must strengthen their professional staff with the expertise required to assess the suitability of complex interdisciplinary proposals for funding support;
- Create a means of communicating between local practitioners and policy makers at international and national levels which will enable local research to be reflected in the appropriate policies and development programs;
- Provide a viable means of exchange among local resource mangers and local population specialists to establish ongoing collaboration at all levels from the planning to implementation stages of biodiversity conservation;
- Identify and enable the implementation of relevant policy and field initiatives at international, regional, and local levels and ensure that local needs are addressed when implementing population and biodiversity protection;
- Determine how government policies on population and biodiversity at international, regional, and local levels can be integrated;
- Determine local institutions' capacity to deal with the integration of population dynamics, biodiversity, and conservation and what is needed to address the topic;
- Facilitate the participation of local people in all aspects of scientific research, including data collection and analysis, by providing mechanisms for exchange from local people to the scientists and vice versa;
- Determine how to educate people about population and biodiversity, the most effective messages to use, and how those messages are best communicated to professional and non-professional audiences worldwide at local, national, and international levels;
- Make the research results understandable and available to professionals and the public through professional outlets as well as mass media formal and informal educational institutions.
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