Mapping Population and Ecosystems

Rural populations in developing countries are rapidly increasing, threatening many of the planet’s highest biodiversity regions, reports a new study by WWF called Mapping Population onto Priority Conservation Areas.

The Priority Conservation Areas in the study are 10 of the 19 places that WWF has determined are priority places for conservation. They are parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America.

African familyRural areas retain the highest levels of fertility on the planet, but also suffer high rates of maternal and infant mortality, morbidity, a host of tropical illnesses, and malnutrition, and generally receive little or no access to health care. Women may want planned families, but there are no services to help them achieve it. Also, subsistence farming often involves child labor and thus parents want lots of kids.

The study reports that despite unprecedented rates of rural out-migration in recent years, the destruction of the world’s most biodiverse forests has continued unabated. While many local communities in remote areas of high biodiversity have been stewards of their environment for generations, population growth often places new pressure on natural ecosystems. As new areas for agriculture or subdivisions become developed land, greater pressure is placed on natural resources.

While the basic ideas in the study are not new, applying them specifically to the highest priority conservation areas is new. Now WWF and other NGO’s can identify which areas need social services the most, as part of their ongoing efforts to preserve biodiversity.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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