Essay on “Biodiversity Conservation” in Mega Diversity Countries
As to major donor agencies, a quick comparison of mega diversity countries compared to Human Well- Being index, the UNDP human development indicators and where current ODA funding is going shows relatively little overlap.
While acknowledging that each country will be deciding biodiversity conservation priorities according to their own situation, donors will also be faced with decisions on where to invest scarce resources. These decisions require a complex discussion of priorities at ecological, social, economic and cultural levels.
They must include consideration beyond simply looking at areas of highest diversity to examine the full scope of ecosystem services as identified by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment framework (supporting, regulating, provisioning and cultural services). Other factors to consider include clear identification of goals, cost effectiveness and scale of action.
Burgess et al. (2002) discuss the need for clear goals, when developing conservation programs as well as importance of scale in conservation planning. A comparison of effectiveness in capturing biodiversity within Africa, when using species- based criteria versus process/ecosystem base criteria demonstrated that neither was a suitable proxy for other.
Ecosystem- based systems such as Conservation International’s Tropical Wildernesses did not include species diversity as well as species- based systems such as Bird Life’s “Endemic Bird Areas”. Similarly, a focus on species may not effectively reflect ecosystems and their functions.
Balm ford et al., (2000) suggest that it is important to integrate cost consideration into conservation. They completed a review of countries with high levels of biodiversity compared to relative costs of implementing conservation and resulting priority lists go beyond mega diversity countries to include states in Africa. Nonetheless, donors should recognize that biodiversity conservation actions are key to successful development in all countries and not in those with higher species genetic diversity.
Redford et al., (2003) recently reviewed principles and targets of approaches taken by 13 conservation organizations and found; in many cases there is a common assumption that coarse spatial scale action will conserve fine scale targets.
They note that local-scale ecosystems will not be captured at coarse level. It is clear whether conserving species, ecosystems or their services, underlying conservation target and scale of action must be clear.
At least 21 different approaches at prioritizing biodiversity conservation have been conducted. Examining these approaches to seek common ground both from geographical and conceptual perspectives is an important exercise.
Although the results (Redford et al., 2003) are still preliminary, some important messages are apparent. First and foremost, biodiversity would benefit from a common unified stance among NGOs and conservation agencies towards identifying priorities and working collaboratively towards those goals.
Second, there is less competition and less incompatibility than perceived at first from different approaches reviewed. The former is a message that should be addressed by wider development sector, while the latter is good news for those already undertaking conservation development works.
The scenarios will encompass many important aspects of changes in ecological complexity. Such as rates of extinction, biological invasions and loss of connectivity through habitat fragmentation. When selecting strategies for biodiversity management, policy makers must balance the competing needs and interests of multiple stakeholders.
A balance must be set between groups that want to utilize bioresearches for economic gain. Groups that want to preserve resources for future generations and groups that local interest of these groups must be balanced against perceived long terms regional justify their continued access to these resources based on traditional rights.