Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013, Claudia Lewis, Plan C Initiative, Carlos L. de la Rosa, Catalina Island Conservancy, "The Youth Guide to Biodiversity" 1st Edition (Chapter 12) Youth and United Nations Global Alliance. Reproduced with permission.
Chapter 12. Verbatim.
The Srinharaja Forest Reserve is Sri Lanka’s last piece of fairly intact and viable tropical rainforest. The communities that depend on this forest for their subsistence have created village-level community organisations that have a say in biodiversity conservation decisions.
Working in partnership with government organisations, these community CSOs actively manage and promote projects such as special zoning for various types of uses, research on selective logging and conservation of endemic flora and fauna. These organisations help change attitudes of other local residents about conservation and lead to observable results. Since the project began, for instance, illegal logging in the area has been reduced by up to 75 percent.
Conservation Areas Protected By Indigenous Communities In Honduras And Nicaragua
© Leonardo C. Fleck
When local communities take on leadership roles and make decisions that affect their future, their actions can have national and even international conservation repercussions. The indigenous communities in the Mosquito Coast of Honduras and Nicaragua demonstrated this potential. Members of five ethnic groups (Miskito, Tawahka, Pech, Garifuna and Ladino) got together with The Nature Conservancy and its local partner NGOs to protect a corridor between two important conservation areas - Rio Plátano in Honduras and Bosawas in Nicaragua.
Together, they addressed a myriad of problems: overfishing by commercial companies and other local communities, illegal harvesting of hardwoods from the forests and clear-cutting of mangroves and other lands for firewood, crop production and cattle ranching. They co-developed a long-term plan for the sustainable management of the resources on which these communities depend, including specific actions for watershed protection and sea turtle conservation. Today, these two areas the Rio Plátano (Honduras) and the Bosawas (Nicaragua) are Biosphere Reserves.
Haiti: Once A Lush Tropical Island And Now An Ecological Disaster
The river cutting across the image is the border
between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic
© NASA US GS Landsat 7
The Island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean is divided into two countries. About one third of it makes up Haiti, to the west; the remaining two thirds form the Dominican Republic. Part of the border is shaped by the Libon River. But this border shows much more than the line between the two countries (see satellite image on the right): in less than a century, Haiti lost over 98 percent of its forests!
As a result, over 6 000 hectares (15 000 acres) of topsoil have washed away every year, eventually leading to desertification, and increased pressure on the remaining land and trees. Deadly landslides, water pollution, and negative impacts on marine ecosystems are only a few of the consequences of deforestation.
Biodiversity loss has been great. USAID ’s Agroforestry Outreach Programme was the country’s major reforestation programme in the 1980s. Local peasants planted more than 25 million trees, but for every tree planted, seven were cut. Late-coming government plans promoting alternative sources of energy for cooking to replace fuelwood and to stop deforestation have proven ineffective due to political instability and lack of funding.
This has left the communities to fend for themselves. The Dominican Republic, on the other hand, has had a more stable political climate and a better set of environmental regulations and laws. While deforestation is still an issue in the country, it has not been as devastating as in Haiti because the Dominican Republic has promoted non-extractive industries, like ecotourism, in its forests.