Recently a friend of mine brought to my attention the article dealing with an ecological islands seemingly very far from Europe – in Africa.
The article is analyzing the current situation of protected areas in Africa. And as everywhere else the analyse focuses on the problem that protected areas are ecological islands. The article describes this phenomena like this:“…in the 1960s, a famous series of experiments on patterns of extinction and immigration were conducted in the islets of the Florida Keys by EO Wilson and his student Daniel Simberloff. Their findings became the basis of the ‘theory of island biogeography”.
Simply put, islands lose species: the smaller the island, the faster they are lost. Since then, ecologists have recognised that these islands of habitat need not be surrounded by a sea of water.
Findings of extensive research became the basis of the ‘theory of island biogeography‘.
Exactly the same phenomena of ecological islands is noticeable in Europe! Despite of a large network of protected areas – starting from local or regional networks, through national system up to EU wide system of protected areas like Natura 2000, Europe is facing exactly the same challenge. Small protected ecological islands areas surrounded by agricultural land without suitable habitat simply will not be sufficient to protect biodiversity. For all large European mammals most of the parks are either too small or do not provide safe and suitable habitats due to a wide scale of human activities and extractive uses. Similar like in Africa where one of the greatest conservation challenges is to manage elephants, whose enormous ranges cannot be contained even in the greatest of parks, Europe´s protected areas are too small for the Brown bear or lynx not mentioning the migrating wolves.
So lets enjoy and read this article and try to understand it in the perspective of European context:
Once the wild is gone….
Once the wild is gone.
Nature conservation is still obsessed with the pristine.
It needs to learn to love this mongrel world (written by Bill Adams https://aeon.co/users/bill-adams by Professor of Conservation and Development at Downing College, Cambridge and author of Green Development (2009).
The scene could have been repeated in a thousand protected areas in Africa: a small line of visitors walking carefully in the savannah, accompanied by a local game guard with a rifle. We were approaching an old female elephant on foot, in an area set aside for wildlife in a remote corner of the Zambezi Valley. I had seen plenty of elephants in the wild before, but always from the safety of a vehicle. I felt intensely aware of the noise of my movements and highly conscious of the direction of the wind. It struck me that the tree I stood behind was about the same size as the one the elephant had just gently pushed over…
Part of the problem is biological. Protected areas such as national parks do help preserve the animals and plants inside them, if the areas are large enough. Yet, despite the fact that there has been a huge increase in both the number and extent of protected areas through the 20th century, biodiversity loss has continued apace, accelerating in many regions. What is going wrong?