a. finding alternatives to land-use change and habitat destruction: For instance, we must find alternatives to fulfill the needs met by slash-and-burn agriculture, which is highly destructive of primary forest, and for other activities which degrade forests. The needs of farmers and extractors must be met without destroying habitat and other resources in the forest.
b. identification of “biodiversity hotspots,” which have very high concentrations of endemic species, and which are rapidly losing habitat and species, as primary targets for conservation
c. habitat and ecosystem restoration: Partially-logged areas can be allowed to reforest, and abandoned farms and pastures may be revegetated in some cases where damage to the soil is not too great and there is some natural habitat in the vicinity. In addition to restoring ecosystems, revegetation can also aid in carbon sequestration since growing plants absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide.
d. careful planning of land-use changes and consideration of the consequences of biodiversity change during this planning
e. setting aside various kinds of habitats as conservation reserves, parks, and wildlife refuges: Some have argued that 50% of total land mass must be set aside as reserves in order to protect global biodiversity, but this seems unattainable, given current population growth rates and associated human expansion into even inhospitable lands. Nevertheless, very large land areas could be set aside. Fifty percent of continental land is still relatively undisturbed; agriculture utilizes another 38%; other uses such as urban areas, mines, and wastelands, occupy the rest. So, with appropriate actions, biodiversity conservation areas could be established. These should range from strictly protected wilderness areas to multiple-use areas, and must be large enough to encompass and maintain all aspects of an ecosystem. Many different types of habitats should be protected. Although many such areas have been set aside already, for the most part they are poorly protected (if at all), and often infiltrated by poachers, illegal loggers, miners and hunters. Existing parks and reserves must be better managed, but few resources are expended by governments to conserve them. An estimate (for the 1980’s) of an adequate expenditure for protected areas came to $200 per square kilometer; in actuality, most tropical countries fail to come close to this figure. Tanzania invests $27, Cameroon, $20 and Zimbabwe, $132 (figures from Inamdar, et al., 1999).
f. utilization of managed forests: It is becoming obvious, however, that reserves alone cannot conserve all biodiversity. In reality, they are too small, unlikely to be enlarged, and increasingly isolated in seas of agricultural plots, pasturelands and logged areas. We must, then, in addition to preserving as much primary forest as possible, concentrate some efforts on the establishment and management of secondary forests. In managed areas natural disturbance has been replaced by human activities – set burnings, thinning, selective cutting, replanting with species desirable for timber, insertion of gardens into the forest landscape and so forth. Managed or secondary forests are less diverse than primary forests, and their species composition differs as well. Species which require old-growth forest will decline, since the timber harvesting cycles of managed forests rarely allow the forest to become very old. In addition, edge effects will eliminate or reduce the frequency of certain species. The structure of the forest, too, is altered, and in managed forests it is essential to enrich it by maintaining mixtures of tree species, leaving dead and fallen trees in place to provide habitat and other such activities in order to maintain as much diversity as possible. Some trees should be left even in clear-cuts, and cutting rotations should be extended so that there will be mature forests as well as young ones in managed areas. In other words, ecological relationships must be considered when managing forests.
g. approaching conservation comprehensively: This means that conservation must be done with a view to higher levels of organization (such as ecosystems), not on a piecemeal basis, or species by species [see above].
h. cooperation of the development-assistance community: Since international agencies such as the World Bank provide funding for development, they must be encouraged to make their development projects compatible with conservation objectives. These organizations, which have enormous impacts on tropical countries, could advise them on natural resource management, conservation strategies, plans, budgets and so forth. So far, however, the largest funding agencies have been more interested in funding dams and other development projects than in making awards to conservation projects. They must begin to consider the environmental costs of their loans, and to promote incentives to countries to conserve, rather than decimate, their biodiversity. This concept is beginning to seep in, albeit agonizingly slowly. Money is always available for another dam.
i. utilization of community-based projects which give economic incentives to local people to preserve biodiversity: For instance, if profit can be made from forest resources (both plant and animal), people will be less inclined to destroy them. Of course, these projects must involve only sustainable uses. The Campfire program in Africa gives the responsibility for wildlife management to local inhabitants; such programs can succeed if the community perceives that sustainable use of wildlife is more profitable or valuable than consumptive exploitation.
j. integrated conservation and development projects (ICDP): These projects aim to link conservation of biodiversity within a protected area to socio-economic development outside of that area. However, these projects have had little success for a variety of reasons, such as inadequate ecological research in the affected area and inadequate incorporation of local communities into the projects (Newmark and Hough, 2000). Especially important for ICDP success is an assessment of the environmental impacts of their activities.
k. making the public, government policymakers and land managers aware of the global and local consequences of biodiversity changes, both social and environmental
l. collaboration of scientists with governments to determine policies that will reduce biodiversity loss and environmental deterioration
m. train, fund, and give authority to conservation professionals: At present, few tropical countries have such personnel, nor do they have the will or funds to pay them well or give them the authority they need to protect biodiversity. Most training centers have low budgets; Pimm, et al., (2001) estimates that only US$500 million (a tiny percentage of our military budget, for instance) would provide funds for 25 training centers for 10 years.
n. formation of an international body which would assess alterations in biodiversity and their consequences
o. establishment of international agreements which would act to reduce the activities relevant to the decline in biodiversity – land-use changes, fossil-fuel emissions, the introduction of exotic species, among others
p. allocation of adequate funds for scientific research on biodiversity, and for distribution and analysis of the data obtained