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In early October, the House of Representatives in Indonesia, under the Presidency of Joko Widodo, passed the controversial Omnibus Law, amending 79 existing laws in one single bill. The legislation has been widely unpopular and has been heavily criticised by civil organisations, environmental groups and trade unions, causing massive protests in more than three dozen cities. The Omnibus Law is intended to boost Indonesia’s economy and create jobs by simplifying business permits and easing foreign investment restrictions, however, it does so at the expense of worker’s rights and environmental protections and could cause greater deforestation and biodiversity loss.

How Does the Omnibus Law Affect Indonesia’s Environment?

Among the most controversial articles of the Omnibus Law is the repeal of the current regulation requiring at least 30% of forest area to be conserved for each watershed area or island. According to the environmental NGO Madani, this removal opens the door for massive deforestation and can exacerbate the effects of natural disasters in a country already prone to floods, droughts and earthquakes.

The Omnibus Law also eases the requirements for businesses to carry out environmental impact assessments as a precondition to obtaining a business license and limits public consultation to only those who are directly affected by the specific project. Ultimately, this can lead to the issuance of business permits to companies that neglect the environment. It also prevents environmental organisations and members of the community that are more aware of the environmental impact from objecting to the project, since they may not be directly impacted.

Another significant amendment is the removal of the strict liability principle from the Forestry and Environmental Law, making it harder to prove and prosecute companies that set fire to their land in order to clear it for commercial purposes. According to Greenpeace, such practices, especially for palm oil plantations, have already burned 4.4 million hectares between 2015 and 2019 in Indonesia. The removal of the strict liability principle may ultimately lead to an increase in the conversion of rainforest to plantations, greenhouse emissions and endangerment of species, including the Sumatran orangutan. 

The introduction of the Omnibus Law jeopardises the significant environmental improvements Indonesia has achieved in the past several years. Since 2017, deforestation in the country has declined from one million acres a year to fewer than 250 000 acres a year, due in large part to the approval of more sustainable governmental policies, such as the moratorium on forest clearance and the commitment of 83% of palm oil refineries in Indonesia and Malaysia to the No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) practices.

You might also like: Green Finance Will Help China Achieve its Low-Carbon Goals- Report

The Omnibus Law May Deter Investors From the Indonesian Market

While the Omnibus Law aims to spur more domestic and foreign investment in the country, it contravenes the current investment trend towards sustainability and may ultimately deter investors. Within this context, 36 institutional investors managing USD$4.1 trillion signed an open letter highlighting their concerns regarding the environmental impact of the Omnibus Law. Additionally, the EU recently launched a public consultation on its initiative to reduce its contribution to deforestation worldwide, promoting the consumption of products sourced from deforestation-free supply chains. 

Lastly, the Omnibus Law stands in stark contrast to the growing global demand for sustainable commodities and the increased commitment by investors to incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) into their investment decisions.

The government of Indonesia has lost an opportunity to strengthen its economy while protecting its natural resources, jeopardising the mid and long-term development of the country in a world where sustainable practices are becoming significantly more important.

Featured image by: Wikimedia Commons 

Pangolin scales have been removed from a 2020 listing of ingredients approved for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The move has been applauded by animal protection groups, who say that it will help curb trade of the pangolin, the most trafficked animal in the world. 

Reported by China’s Health Times newspaper, the news comes after the country’s State Forestry and Grassland Administration (SFGA) raised the protected status of pangolins to the highest level earlier this month with immediate effect.

Zhou Jinfeng, secretary general of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, says, “I am very encouraged. Our continuous efforts for several years have not been in vain. But we still have a long way to go. We need to be vigilant about so-called ‘captive breeding’ and medicinal research because some wrong findings could lead to the wrong policy decisions.”

You might also like: Study Projects 30% More Forest Cover if Wood Biomass is Managed Right

The trade of all eight species of pangolin are protected under international law and three of the four of these species are native to Asia, which are included on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered species, including the functionally extinct Chinese pangolin.  

In February, the China’s National People’s Congress enforced a ban on the consumption of meat from wild animals, although clarification as to what wildlife will still be allowed for use in TCM and the fur and leather industries is expected once China finalises the revisions to its wildlife protection law. 

Although the SFGA currently permits TCM pharmaceutical companies to use parts from previous stockpiles or so called, poorly regulated ‘farmed’ wildlife, this practice is shown to enable the trafficking of animals. 

Up to 200 000 pangolins are consumed each year in Asia for their scales and meat. More than 130 tons of scales and live and dead animals were seized in cross-border trafficking busts in 2019, which is estimated to represent up to 400 000 animals

Pangolin meat is eaten by China’s elite in the hope of reaping health or sexual benefits, even though early TCM texts warn against eating the animals.

Since 2015, more than 14 000 whole pangolins have been seized at border crossings in Asia, with 95% of those in shipments of 21 animals or more. 99% of all whole pangolin seizures have occurred in Asia, with 24% of those at China’s borders, followed by Vietnam and India. Most whole pangolins are trafficked from Laos, Thailand and India. 

Amanda Shaver, a wildlife crime analyst with C4ADS, says, “There has been a significant drop in reporting on pangolin seizures since December 2019. This is most likely due to the increased media focus and coverage on COVID-19, but our databases have not recorded a single seizure of whole pangolin in Asia in 2020.”

Regarding seizures of pangolin scales, in the past five years, 32% have been at mainland China’s border, although Hong Kong accounted for 17%. C4ADS says that the top sources for scales are Nigeria (25%), Malaysia (17%) and Indonesia (12%). 

Featured image by: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF 

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, sits precariously on the Pacific Ring of Fire (an area of high tectonic activity) and annually experiences severe flooding, monsoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes, the effects of which are getting more extreme as the climate crisis worsens. It is also one of the fastest sinking cities in the world. To escape the rising sea levels, the Indonesian government is moving its headquarters to Borneo, the island famous for its orangutans. What are the social and ecological consequences of such a move?  

In April 2019, Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo announced his cabinet’s plans to move the capital from Jakarta to a more central location in the Indonesian archipelago. While some welcomed this as a sign that the Java-based government is taking greater interest in the development of its more remote communities situated on other islands, the reality is that at the current rate of rising sea levels and sinking foundations, areas of Jakarta will be entirely submerged by 2050

How is Indonesia affected by sea level rise? 

The land under Indonesia’s current capital is sinking at an average rate of 1-15 cm per year, with the rates of sinking unevenly distributed around the city’s districts, from 1cm per year in the south to up to 15cm in the west and 25cm in North Jakarta. This phenomenon is known as land-subsidence, and is predominantly a consequence of unmoderated human activity. Land-subsidence is caused by the extraction of large volumes of groundwater from aquifers beneath the city, and in the case of Jakarta, the sinking is further exacerbated by the soft, swampy ground on which the city sits. Despite some of this extraction being illegal, the city does not have the resources to police it effectively and, due to the inadequate provision of drinkable water to many of its districts, the local populace often has no alternative.

Land-subsidence is a serious issue for locals, as it increases the severity and duration of flooding, preventing run-off from finding its way back into the sea and rivers. Even in relatively dry periods, the sinking causes cracks in walls and uneven surfaces leading to structural instability in buildings that frequently needs to be patched up. 

What will happen to Jakarta once the administrative buildings and government officials have been relocated? Plans for the new capital city only accommodate 1.5 million of the 10 million people currently living in the capital. After prioritising civil servants and their families, the remaining places will likely go to the wealthy or well-connected, leaving the middle- and lower-class majority of Jakarta to address the increasingly urgent issues of land subsidence, flooding, traffic congestion and air pollution themselves. In an interview last year, President Widodo agreed that Jakarta must embark on the Giant Sea Wall project, discussions of which began a decade ago. The project has been repeatedly postponed amid debates about the cost of the project and the impact it could have on the local coral reef and fishing industry.

The finalised location for the new capital, as announced in August of last year, is the province of East Kalimantan on the southern, Indonesian-owned end of the idyllic and sparsely populated island of Borneo. This island was the strong favourite for several reasons: firstly, that it would ease the overcrowding of Java, the most densely populated island in Indonesia, and secondly, it would separate the governmental centre from the economic hub, redistributing wealth away from Java which currently contributes 58% of Indonesia’s GDP. In comparison, Kalimantan contributes less than 9%, and Bali-Nusa Tenggara and Maluku-Papua, the most eastern regions, contribute 3% and 2.5%, respectively.

Finally, moving the capital to a more central location in the archipelago would give the impression of a more unified country and a government that takes greater interest in its more remote, isolated regions in the east, whose development has long been neglected. 

There have been mixed feelings regarding the move amongst the locals of East Kalimantan, with some hoping that the increased development in the area will result in better education and employment prospects. On the other hand, there is concern among locals and environmental groups about what the large influx of immigrants, and the accompanying development, will mean for the pristine tropical rainforests and biodiversity in the region. Not only would there be grave regional implications of further pollution and deforestation, but the planet’s health would also be compromised further. Borneo has been called the ‘lungs of the world’ due to the large amounts of CO2 the heavily forested island absorbs, similar to the Amazon rainforest. With the introduction of large-scale human activities such as mining and logging, Borneo may risk emitting more greenhouse gases than it absorbs. President Widodo has promised to preserve the protected rainforest in the region, a promise which will hopefully be honoured. 

It remains to be seen to what degree the move will be a success in terms of social welfare and economic growth for remote Indonesia, and for those inhabitants left behind in Jakarta. In the meantime, it is imperative that the government boosts efforts to reduce the impacts of rising sea levels through physical buffers and reducing emissions.

Featured image by: Dino Adyansyah

Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, is projected to see its demand for electricity double in the next ten years. In an attempt to accelerate its economic development, the country is likely to remain heavily dependent on cheap and plentiful coal to meet its soaring electricity demand, which will further accelerate the warming of the planet.  

Indonesia relies mainly on fossil fuels for its energy supply, with coal accounting for almost one-third of its energy sources, and oil and natural gas accounting for 42% and 16% respectively, according to a 2017 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The use of coal has steadily risen since the turn of the century and is predicted to rise further in an effort to boost the country’s economy. 

Just last year, Indonesia saw ten coal-fired power plants begin operations with a total capacity of 3 GW, making up almost three-fourths of the new power generation in 2019. Among the newly-launched plants is the largest coal-fired power unit, called Java 7 Unit 1, which has a capacity of 1 GW. 

These new coal plants, critics pointed out, offset the nation’s renewable energy growth efforts. The capacity of the Java 7 Unit 1 alone is nearly three times greater than the 376 MW worth of green energy plants launched last year. Java 7’s second unit, also with a capacity of 1 GW, is set to come online next year. 

Coal doesn’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Indonesia plans to add 27 GW worth of new coal-fired power plants by 2027. The expansion of coal plants would mean additional greenhouse gas emissions, polluting the air and exacerbating the climate crisis. 

Bar graph showing the top five coal producers’ coal and renewable energy mix: dark blue- coal, light blue- renewable (Source: Earth.Org).

Climate change is of particular significance to Indonesia: its massive coastal population is particularly at risk to sea level rise and the livelihoods of many people depend on agriculture and fishing, which is impacted by temperature changes and water availability. Researchers have found that the climate crisis is causing intensified dry seasons and thus water scarcity in Java, the nation’s most populous island and the economic center. Additionally, a recent study from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry reported that in the past 15 years, Indonesia has lost almost 2 hectares of coastal area due to rising sea levels. Among the worst affected areas is the northern part of Java Island.

Roughly 23 million people living in the coastal regions, including the densely populated capital city, Jakarta, are at risk of losing their home by 2050 due to the rising sea levels, according to a study from the US-based Climate Central. The government is now relocating the capital city from the sinking Jakarta to Borneo, a move that aims to ease Jakarta’s burden as the center of government and economy.

The Indonesian government has acknowledged the urgent need to cut its coal dependence. However, the country- the world’s fourth largest coal producer after Kazakhstan, South Africa and Russia- is still struggling to do so, mostly because coal is a reliable means to boost the economy. 

It is a common problem in developing countries to have to prioritise either the economy or the environment. “These countries are going to utilise all kinds of energy,” Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif said in an interview. “So allow us to develop our country.”

In order to achieve its green energy commitments under the Paris Agreement, Indonesia needs to end its coal addiction, ending the construction of coal plants and phasing out coal power by this year, a study shows. 

Environmental organisations have warned that the massive coal expansion- which has been financed by major economies, like China, Japan and South Korea- may lead to an energy crisis, which may see the country running out of coal by 2030 and becoming an energy-importing country. 

According to London-based think tank Carbon Tracker, coal will become more expensive as the price of renewable resources falls. Building new renewables, like solar photovoltaic panels, is projected to be less costly compared to operating existing coal plants.

There’s also a substantial risk of those existing coal plants becoming stranded assets (prematurely retired coal plants due to their high operating costs). Under a scenario in which coal power will be phased out in a manner consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement, Indonesia is at risk of losing $35 billion ‘in the next decades’ from these stranded assets.

To avoid these risks, Indonesia should accelerate its energy transition to renewables, exploring and developing alternative fuels, like geothermal and solar power. Unfortunately, renewable energy has yet to show a significant uptake: last year, the country had 12.36% renewable energy in its electricity production mix, far below its 17.5% target. The country voluntarily set itself the target of achieving 23% renewable energy use by 2025, and 31% by 2050.

However, there are signs of hope. At least 35 renewable energy projects with a capacity of 834.71 MW are entering construction with a commercial operation target of between 2019 and 2021. Indonesia is also planning to replace old coal plants with renewable energy and introduce a regulation on renewable energy to attract foreign investors. Those moves can increase the share of renewables in its power mix.

As a country that emits significant amounts of greenhouse gases because of deforestation, peatland megafires and coal consumption, Indonesia needs to work to stick to its emissions reduction targets while continuing to develop its economy. If the mission is successful, Indonesia can set an example for other developing countries that it is possible to decouple economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions. 

The world’s orangutans are facing dire straits. As the palm oil and illegal logging industries continue to boom, critical orangutan habitats in Indonesia and Malaysia are rapidly disappearing. The plight of the orangutans may be grave, but there is still time to secure a brighter future for these great apes. 

Orangutan Facts: Gardeners of the Forest 

Orangutans are highly intelligent mammals that share nearly 97% of their DNA with humans. Originally considered one species, there are now three recognised species of orangutans– the Sumatran orangutan, the Bornean orangutan, and the Tapanuli orangutan, all considered critically endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The world’s remaining wild orangutans- estimated to be less than 120 000– exist exclusively in the dwindling tropical rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo. 

Orangutans experience long childhoods, with young orangutans typically spending between seven and eleven years with their mothers. Adult female orangutans also experience lengthy intervals between births. These relatively low reproductive rates result in slow species propagation, which exacerbates existing threats to the future existence of orangutans. 

As a result of their fruit-heavy diets, orangutans perform the crucial ecosystem service of seed dispersal. Often referred to as the ‘gardeners of the forest’, orangutans directly contribute to the health and continuity of their tropical forest environments. Healthy forests, in turn, provide a host of critical ecological services, including the prevention of water runoff, soil erosion mitigation, and global carbon sequestration and storage.

Orangutans are highly perceptive, inquisitive, and creative animals. However, due to a range of imminent threats, the future existence of these great apes is anything but certain. 

Why are orangutans endangered?

Perhaps the greatest threat to orangutan survival is the extremely lucrative palm oil industry. Palm oil, which is used to produce a wide array of food and personal care products, is the most widely consumed vegetable oil in the world. Palm oil is extracted from oil palm trees, which are mass-cultivated on huge monoculture plantations. 90% of these oil palm plantations are located in Indonesia and Malaysia, the region upon which wild orangutans are completely dependent for their survival. 

Palm oil cultivation requires the widespread clearing of rainforest habitats, often via human-induced forest fires, in order to make space for palm oil plantations. This large-scale deforestation has devastating effects on wildlife species, particularly vulnerable orangutan populations. Subsequent habitat loss and fragmentation force orangutans to migrate to less ideal territories, where many starve and experience decreased reproductive rates. 

Illegal logging is another major threat to vulnerable orangutan populations. It was estimated that illegal logging had taken place in 90% of Indonesia’s national parks in 2007, which are considered the ‘last strongholds of orangutans’. The lucrative illegal industry is driven primarily by international markets and timber supply networks, with Asian, European and North American countries being major recipients of illegally-logged timber. 

Illegal logging contributes heavily to the mass destruction and fragmentation of orangutan habitats. Unfortunately, park rangers in Indonesia’s national parks possess insufficient numbers, training, and equipment to effectively ward off illegal logging activity.

Other threats to the future survival of orangutans include road development, mining, illegal hunting, and illegal animal trade.

Land-Use Conflicts 

The road to securing a brighter future for orangutans is laden with little-acknowledged economic and moral complications. Orangutan habitat preservation presents land-use conflicts with local stakeholders who are able to generate direct income through habitat elimination and palm oil production. These local communities consequently suffer as a result of orangutan preservation and are not sufficiently compensated by people who support conservation efforts.

The idea of orangutan preservation, on the other hand, is enjoyed by the global masses, including the wealthy, who bear little to none of the cost that local communities suffer. It is essential that future orangutan conservation initiatives exist with the interests of both orangutans and local stakeholders in mind.

What Can Be Done? 

Fortunately, despite their dire straits, there is hope for the orangutans. Many organisations, including the World Wildlife Fund, the Orangutan Foundation, the Orangutan Conservancy, and Orangutan Outreach, are working diligently to support orangutan preservation through a range of conservation activities.    

However, there is always more that can be done. Consumers can support orangutans by only purchasing wood and paper products with the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label, by only purchasing palm oil products made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, or by avoiding palm oil products altogether. 

Additionally, members of the public can make a positive impact by spreading the word about the plight of the orangutans, by taking small steps to reduce their carbon footprints, and by encouraging friends, family members and colleagues to take similar action. 

The greatest conservation success story in the 21st century is the exponential growth of protected areas–a primary defence mechanism against Earth’s biodiversity loss. In 1992, world nations signed an agreement to create protected areas on land and sea to preserve nature and prevent biodiversity loss.  The numbers say we did it. 15% of the Earth’s surface is now marked as protected. But did we really do it? Do numbers alone speak the truth?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) definition of a protected area is ‘a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values’.

What are Protected Areas and Why are They Important?

These protected areas play a key role in preserving the benefits that nature brings to people. These benefits, often referred to as ‘ecosystem services,’ include the provision of food and freshwater, the regulation of floods and droughts, nutrient cycling, and recreational opportunities.

The idea of protecting nature was originally conceived in the late 19th century to preserve vast stretches of wilderness in their unspoiled, untouched form. The goal was simple: to keep nature safe from people. While this remains true today, new objectives were added over time, as protected wildlife zones often became tourist attractions and important economic pillars starting from the 1970s- a period which saw the expansion of protected areas across the world.

Since signing the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993, the 168 member states have almost doubled the size of their protected areas in efforts to meet that treaty’s goal: that each nation protects at least 17% of its land area and 10% of its oceans by 2020. As of today, world nations have legally designated over 202 000 protected lands covering 19.8 million square kilometers, or 15% of Earth’s surface.

You might also like: Conch and the Wider Problem of Unsustainable Fishing

protected lands
The protected areas of the world. This map shows protected area coverage (in percentage) of the world’s terrestrial (green gradient) and marine (blue gradient) ecoregions of the world. Source: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN, 2018a.

Asia

There are over 10 900 protected areas in Asia that cover 13.9% of the terrestrial environment and 1.8% of the marine and coastal areas. Protected area coverage beyond 12 nautical miles remains critically low; only 0.04% of the marine and coastal areas between 12 and 200 nautical miles in Asia are under protected area management. This is particularly significant as marine biodiversity is most pronounced in shallow waters. Coastal and marine protection per country is very low with no countries covering at least 10% of their marine area within national jurisdiction (0-200 nautical miles). Only four countries, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and Thailand, have more than 5% of their territorial seas covered by protected areas.

Some countries like Bhutan and Brunei Darussalam have around 40% of their land protected while other 14 countries in Asia have less than 17% of their land covered by protected areas. China makes significant contributions to the region’s protected area coverage. In North West China, there are four vast protected areas that cover around 766 000 square km. If these areas were excluded, the total territorial coverage in Asia would drop from 13.9 to 10.2%.

The State of Protected Areas

The rich biodiversity found within Asia’s protected areas is under constant and immense threat. Asia’s high population density- 1.5 times the global average- is one of the major factors fuelling the degradation of these lands.  

IUCN points out three major categories of threats faced by protected areas: biological resource use, natural system modifications, and agricultural and aquaculture expansion. Biological resource use– the most frequently reported threat–refers to hunting, illicit wildlife trade, and logging inside the designated areas. IUCN suggests a total prevention of use of biological resources in the areas. Natural system modifications refer to management interventions like controlled burn and construction of dams that can cause habitat loss, degrading protected areas. While agricultural expansion leads to deforestation and aquaculture causes erosion of biodiversity within the protected areas.

In South East Asia, ‘biological resource use’ is growing with the rising demand for exotic and wildlife products like rhino horn, pangolins, bear bile, reptiles, turtles, orchids, corals and sharks. Illicit wildlife trade from Asia said to be worth in excess of $23 billion a year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Focusing on hydropower for their energy needs countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam are building a number of dams in the Mekong River that flows through their territories. These ‘natural system modification’ projects will likely sound the death knell for many of the region’s protected species. A study by the Mekong River Commission released last year showed that Mekong fish stocks could fall by up to 40 percent as a result of the dam projects.

protected lands
Expansion of palm oil fields degraded the existing protected areas in Indonesia

Agricultural expansion, especially for timber, rubber, and palm oil, has been a major driver of forest loss in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. In Indonesia, 16% of the total primary forest–6.02 million hectares under protected areas– was lost during 2000-2012.  Meanwhile, large swathes of land within protected areas have been allocated for rubber and palm oil plantations by the governments in Cambodia and Laos.

Failure of governments to implement effective conservation policies and curbing corruption has let down the management of protected areas in the region. For instance, in Indonesia–a country with an abysmal transparency score and weak enforcement institutions–forestry remains one of the most graft-prone industries. This is partly rooted in the continuing decentralisation of power to local governments since 1998.  The result was an unprecedented increase in the sale of public land from local government to private actors for palm oil plantations and timber logging. Many of these transactions allegedly involved payment to local government officials, and resulted in dozens of major corruption cases like Agung Podomoro land case.

Globally, one-third of all protected areas are under intense human pressure.  Over six million square km of protected land face pressure from agriculture, encroaching human settlement, roads, light pollution, rail, and infrastructure development on waterways, recent studies have found. Only 10% of lands were completely free of human activity, but most of these regions are in remote areas of high-latitude nations, such as Russia and Canada. Wealthy and poor nations alike are failing to adequately enforce their protected areas.

Do Protected Areas Really Work?

Legal designation is hence a necessary but alone insufficient instrument for biodiversity protection. Devoid of enforcement and policing mechanisms, as well as of responsive and transparent institutions, protection remains more of an aspiration than a fact.

Protected areas’ effectiveness for biodiversity conservation is now questioned by many.  A study shows that not all protected areas are up to the standard set by the IUCN.  Many governments allow a number of destructive, unsustainable activities within the boundaries of these areas. Over 60% of areas are simply too small—less than one square kilometer—to save big or migrating species. Most protected areas are not well-connected in order to allow movement of animal and plant populations, especially in the face of worsening climate change.  While they help buffer species from habitat loss and overexploitation, protected areas do little to save species from other threats like climate change, pollution, and invasive species.

Governments have left most protected areas with too little money for management. Globally protected areas are underfunded to the tune of $18 billion a year: three times as much as is currently spent on managing protected areas ($6 billion). The poor management of these areas opens the door to any number of human impacts including poaching, illegal logging, habitat destruction, illegal fishing, etc.

protected lands
A successful conservation model: Corcovado National Park, 726,000 acres, Lakes Region, Chile

Solving the Crisis

The future is grim. The human population is likely to touch nine billion by 2035 causing an increased demand for resources that will take an unprecedented toll on protected areas at current per-capita consumption rates.

Policy-makers should stipulate a set of science-based, site-specific nature retention targets aimed at keeping natural systems intact and functioning. Governments should focus on outcomes that are positive for biodiversity, rather than increasing the number of areas. They should also follow the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)’s framework guide to assess effectiveness of the areas.  

A well conserved protected area is a result of collaboration among law enforcement departments, policy-makers, local communities, and other stakeholders.  Objectives of managing protected areas, besides the primary one of biodiversity conservation, now also include social and economic ones. Reconciling the objectives with the needs of local livelihoods will require building partnerships and alliances with local businesses and communities. The Chilean Patagonia model, one of the successful collaborative conservation efforts in recent times, is a great example of such a partnership.

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