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Why Africas National Parks Are Failing to Save Wildlife

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:20 AM
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The traditional parks model of closing off areas and keeping people out simply may not work in Africa, where human demands on the land are great. Instead, whats needed is an approach that finds ways to enable people and animals to co-exist.
by fred Pearce

The world has a template for conservation: protected areas. The United States invented the template with its great national parks, protecting pristine wilderness. But what if the template is wrong? What if it is doomed to fail in a crowded world where most species live most of their time outside protected areas?

This year is the International Year of Biodiversity. It will be a year in which calls for more parks will grow in order to halt the unprecedented loss of species across the world. The calls will come especially from mainstream environmental groups like WWF, the Nature Conservancy, and Conservation International, for whom protecting hotspots of biodiversity on land which they either own or manage is a core activity.

There are more parks every year. And yet despite this, conservation is failing. Neither the Biodiversity Convention, signed at the Earth Summit in The great African parks of today are, ecologically, as artificial as an English country garden. Rio de Janeiro in 1992, nor the promise made a decade later at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg to staunch the loss of species, has done more than prevent the losses from accelerating. Perhaps the whole idea of sealing off wilderness from human activity is fatally flawed a misreading of our symbiotic relationships with nature.

The trouble is that what works in the wide open spaces of the U.S. in Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks may not work elsewhere, where there are more people and the demands on land are far greater. The test bed is likely to be Africa, where more of the worlds large mammals survive than anywhere else.

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