Reintroduction or Conservation Projects?

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There are pros and cons to each, but the ongoing debate of focusing efforts on reintroduction or conservation looks like something that is long going to continue. Here, we briefly consider if conservation organisations, government and non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) should financially support reintroduction projects, or if the money could be better spent on other types of conservation projects.

Both reintroduction programmes as well as other types of conservation projects are very important and there is a balance that must be found in terms of resources given to each area. Indeed, reintroduction programmes alone will not remedy the situation that we are currently facing in terms of the ever decreasing numbers of species that live in their natural habitat.

If we first look at reintroduction, it can be seen that there are indeed benefits to reintroduction programmes and thus financial support is vital for them. In some instances, where there are only a few species remaining in their natural habitat, it is a good idea to try to reintroduce. Reintroduction gives species a ‘fighting chance’ of survival. It can also help preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystem. Each species has its own role to play in the ecosystem and if some species are ‘missing’ it can throw the whole system out of balance. This can impact not only on flora and wildlife, but also on the local communities who rely on natural resources. Reintroduction is basically a way of trying to put right what mankind has done.

However, reintroduction cannot be considered in isolation, other types of conservation projects must run alongside any reintroduction projects if they are to prove successful.

An integrated approach should be taken to conservation projects – there is not one approach that can be used as a quick fix to the declining number of species found in their natural habitat. However, there are a number of issues that have an effect on populations and looking at these can then lead on to ways in which to help negate or at least diminish their impact.

One reason that some species are decreasing in number is due to loss of their natural habitat, infringement from logging and other activities, resulting in less area in which to move around and a scarcity of food resources. Deforestation is done for a number of reasons, both for large commercial gain, but also for personal use by often poor rural communities.

There is a great deal of profit that can be made for companies using natural resources, this is mainly down to demand from other countries for the products that are created using these resources. Education is paramount – explaining the consequences of a cheap product on the future of our natural resources may have some impact on the demand for products, however, what we really need is to develop alternatives that can be used; whose production would not have such an impact on the environment. Education is also important for local communities surrounding these natural areas – they need to learn that there are ways in which they can use these resources, but in a sustainable manner. Also, alternative methods of making a livelihood should be explored.

Ecotourism programmes should also be funded, providing that they are run in the right way, that they are benefiting the country and local community as well as ensuring that the impact on the population and animals is not a negative one.

Money should also be spent on better enforcement of anti-poaching laws – it is too often the case that these laws are lax and are not perceived as a genuine threat by the poachers – the potential rewards are seen to outweigh the risk. If it was harder for poachers, the number of animals taken from the forest for the bushmeat and pet trade would be reduced and thus the numbers remaining in the wild would be greater.

The above are just a handful of initiatives that funding should be applied to. In some cases, programmes are already in place which are starting to make some inroads into these areas, however, there is still a lot that can be done. Whatever happens in the future, it is important to remember that there are a number of parties that have a vested interest and the consequences of any conservation initiatives should be considered across all these parties before being introduced.

Reintroduction projects are vital in attempting to put-right the past mistakes of humans that put in jeopardy the survival of the natural world. However, it is equally important to learn from the past and try to prevent the same mistakes recurring, through the implementation of alternative conservation projects. Ideally, in future this will remove the need for further reintroduction projects.

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