Very Large Conservation Areas May Not Help Rare Species

nature reserve sign photo

Photo credit: sahlgoode/Creative Commons

When it comes to protecting animals, it seems that a simple rule could be "more is better." The more species saved, and habitat preserved—this implies—the healthier the resulting ecosystem.

New research, however, suggests that the reality might not be so simple; in fact, very large conservation areas may suffer from critical oversights that make them poorly suited for protecting rare species.The problem, researchers Lisette CantĂș-Salazar and Kevin J. Gaston of the University of Sheffield found, is that large conservation areas—covering 25,000 square kilometers or more—tend to be sited to create the least inconvenience to human populations. As a result, they miss the highest priority conservation areas.

Even so, the researchers concluded that these very large protected areas still have value. Often, they found, the areas protect large portions of endangered ecosystems, like the Guianan Highlands Moist Forests and the Tibetan Plateau Steppe. Furthermore, the large conservation areas tend to exist where these habitats and ecosystems are under the greatest threat from development and industry.

In the end, this research does not negate the efforts to create large conservation areas but reinforces the fact that proper placement, community involvement, and biodiversity surveys are essential to ensure conservation success.

Read more about conservation:
6 Conservation Successes That Brought Animals Back from the Brink
Community Involvement Essential for the Success of Marine Reserves
The Problem With 'Shoot to Kill' Conservation
Why Wildlife Conservation is Failing (Video)

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