Paradoxes in Biodiversity Conservation

David Pearce

Published: September 2005

Biodiversity is important for human wellbeing, but it is declining. Measures to conserve biodiversity are essential but may be a waste of effort if several paradoxes are not addressed. The highest levels of diversity are in nations least able to practise effective conservation. The flow of funds to international biodiversity conservation appears trivial when compared to the scale of biodiversity loss. International agreements may not actually protect or conserve more than what would have been conserved anyway. Protected Areas may be ‘paper parks’, protected in name but not in practice. The very act of protection may contain self-destructive features because local communities can easily suffer loss of income and assets, making them unwilling partners in the act of protection. In turn, this places the protected area at risk and may also divert unsustainable harvesting activities to non-protected but equally diverse ecosystems. In tackling these issues the real biodiversity challenge is redesigning conservation effort, making it truly additional and making it compatible with poverty reduction.

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