This story was featured on the IPS wire and on the Al Jazeera network . It’s about a study showing that national parks, conservation and protected areas have not and cannot halt the decline in biodiversity that is our life support system. It is hopeless without addressing the root cause of this and all other environmental problems: too many of us, taking too much and having too big of an impact. On our present course we’ll need 27 planet Earths by 2050 they conclude. — Stephen
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jul 29, 2011 (IPS)
Protecting bits of nature here and there will not prevent humanity from losing our life support system. Even if areas dedicated to conserving plants, animals, and other species that provide Earth’s life support system increased tenfold, it would not be enough without dealing with the big issues of the 21st century: population, overconsumption and inefficient resource use.
Without dealing with those big issues, humanity will need 27 planet Earths by 2050, a new study estimates.
The size and number of protected areas on land and sea has increased dramatically since the 1980s, now totaling over 100,000 in number and covering 17 million square kilometres of land and two million square kilometres of oceans, a new study reported Thursday.
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But impressive as those numbers look, all indicators reveal species going extinct faster than ever before, despite all the additions of new parks, reserves and other conservation measures, according to the study published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
“It is amazing to me that we haven’t dealt with this failure of protected areas to slow biodiversity losses,” said lead author Camilo Mora of University of Hawaii at Manoa.
“We were surprised the evidence from the past 30 years was so clear,” Mora told IPS.
The ability of protected areas to address the problem of biodiversity loss – the decline in diversity and numbers of all living species – has long been overestimated, the study reported. The reality is that most protected areas are not truly protected. Many are “paper parks”, protected in name only. Up to 70 percent of marine protected areas are paper parks, Mora said.
The study shows global expenditures on protected areas today are estimated at six billion dollars per year, and many areas are insufficiently funded for effective management. Effectively managing existing protected areas requires an estimated 24 billion dollars per year – four times the current expenditure.
“Ongoing biodiversity loss and its consequences for humanity’s welfare are of great concern and have prompted strong calls for expanding the use of protected areas as a remedy,” said co-author Peter Sale, a marine biologist and assistant director of the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health.
“Protected areas are a false hope in terms of preventing the loss of biodiversity,” Sale told IPS. Continue reading