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Author Topic: Should we have nature reserves?  (Read 10057 times)

blakestyger

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Should we have nature reserves?
« on: 06/10/2008 17:20:56 »
Nature reserves are found in a lot countries, the received wisdom is that they are a good thing. I like nature reserves and spend each Sunday working in one - for free.

But is this the right way to be thinking?

By putting aside reserves that are managed for the benefit of the wildlife within them we are in effect saying - "...do what you like with the rest of the countryside - if you manage your farm so that it looks an extension to someone's garden or generally despoil what's left, that's fine we've got reserves for the wildlife".

Is this right?


 

Offline Don_1

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #1 on: 07/10/2008 09:32:05 »
I think you could be right. Setting aside a piece of land as a reserve could be sending the wrong signal.

Better education and understanding of the flora & funa would be more useful. Man needs to make due allowance for wildlife everywhere and realise the importance of bio-diversity. If we continue to destroy wild habitat, driving plants and animals to extinction, WE will be the biggest losers.

A new report suggests that 25% of mammals are in danger of extinction. While these reserves have doubtless helped to keep some animals relatively safe from human encroachment, they also have the effect of isolating the animals, particularly where the reserves are small. This could force inter breeding between individuals which are closely related, leading to genetic problems due to the lack of 'new blood' in the family groups. The transfer of a few animals between different reserves may not be sufficient to maintain a healthy genetic mix.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #2 on: 08/10/2008 08:32:09 »
...they also have the effect of isolating the animals, particularly where the reserves are small. This could force inter breeding between individuals which are closely related, leading to genetic problems due to the lack of 'new blood' in the family groups. The transfer of a few animals between different reserves may not be sufficient to maintain a healthy genetic mix.

This is a problem in Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania - but it has nothing to do with human intervention. It is difficult for animals to get into and out of the crater and consequently inbreeding has been going on for generations. Lions are particularly badly affected.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2008 22:23:53 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline Sarah D

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #3 on: 12/10/2008 16:04:17 »
Really interesting question, one that I've thought about myself actually!  THey sound like a good idea in principal, but as has already been mentioned, one of the big problems is that gthey act as a kind of "escape clause", in that people think the only areas that need to be conserved are those within these reserves.  It also implies a kind of separation between scoiety and nature, making a physical distinction between them - can't be good for engagement of society with nature, can it?!

Oh, and sometimes if reserves aren't closely managed, which I think is the American way of running them (correct me if i'm wrong here?), it can lead to loss of biodiversity compared with a relatively maintained site.  Unintensively managed farms being a greater harbour for biodiversity than an untouched wilderness, I believe...?

So it would appear I have convinced myself that perhaps I don't agree with them in principal...!  Perhaps we should maintain them at the moment but encourage a move towards more integrative conservation?
 

blakestyger

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #4 on: 12/10/2008 19:29:05 »
Sarah D

Good point about non-intensive farming - I did some winter bird counts on a local arable farm some years ago when it was mostly fallow or plough and it was amazing just how many birds (both in number and diversity) it supported.

Also, I take heart from there being a lot of small life in bits of the urban and suburban landscape that we tend to overlook. There is a rich world of animal and plant life surviving and often thriving among docklands, railway sidings, factories and canals. I've seen kestrels over motorway verges and there's a roundabout near where I live that is always covered in mixed corvid feeding flocks. All bits of land that get little human attention - I think thats the key.
 

Offline ecogirl10

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #5 on: 14/11/2008 18:04:02 »
Advanced apologies on the length of this response, there is a considerable amount of information out there on this topic and so I've tried to keep it brief yet informative.

Arguments about the purpose, feasibility, and designs of nature reserves have been going on since the 1970s. If you take into consideration the theories that underlie these arguments you could say that it has been going on much longer than that. Early publications on reserves often support a viewpoint that man must live with nature if he is not to endanger the sources of life, and that a park or reserve preserves the scenic beauty of nature not only for the protection of life but also for the enjoyment of people.

The concepts behind the design of nature reserves stemmed from the development of a subdivision of ecology, the study of island biogeography. Essentially these theories treat reserves like insular refugia surrounded by inhospitable landscape or islands. I would suggest that anyone who wants more information read Robert Mays 1975 article in Nature where he listed a number of important ideas in island biogeography as providing rough rules for the design of wildlife preserves. Also, an important, if often overlooked, article by Arthur Sullivan and Mark Shaffer in the 1975 issue of Science discusses a series of questions which are still up for debate today. If you are feeling industrious, I also recommend reading all about the SLOSS debate (single large, or several small reserves). Jared Diamond 1974 (in Biological Conservation), Simberloff and Abele 1976 (in Science), Robert Whitcomb et al. 1976 (in Science) are good places to start as they discuss opposing conservation strategies on reserve size.

After years of arguing, in most respects, large reserves are viewed as better than small reserves because they maintain minimum viable populations. An extension to the SLOSS debate is that of reserve shape as well as debates about how reserves should be arrayed. The usual view is for reserves to be near each other in order to allow migration between them. Like any argument, there are pros and cons to each side of the proximity debate. And more recent publications focus on related topics such as buffers and corridors (read just about anything by Reed Noss). However, with every new proposal there seems to be a new host of questions that come to light. How much habitat is enough? Which habitats should be protected? What species should be saved: keystone species, extinction prone species, certain trophic levels, certain taxa, populations, communities, ecosystems, or all species? How many individuals must be protected? How should species richness be measured? Are classic theories realistically applicable? Recent developments in the field have focused on identifying areas of high conservation interest in addition to how to preserve these areas once they are located. Reserve selection algorithms, gap analysis, GIS, and other computerized approaches are now commonplace in conservation planning.

A personal opinion? I think they are highly effective in that they preserve what we otherwise would destroy, they offer enjoyment and education opportunities for the average person, and they provide places to study our environment. So it is a big YES on reserves from me.  ;D
 

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Should we have nature reserves?
« Reply #5 on: 14/11/2008 18:04:02 »

 

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