Conserving biodiversity

The effort to conserve biodiversity has largely focused on securing enough protected areas of different categories that could contain large, undisturbed ecosystems. It is obvious, and probably inevitable, that societies are putting a growing pressure on the rest of the biosphere. In order to strike a balance, the exploitation and modification of certain parts of the earth should be accompanied by the absence of human interference in other parts. However, with increasing pressure and demand for land for production, the number and size of such protected areas is probably getting close to a maximum. It is now becoming apparent that in order to increase the opportunities to conserve biodiversity, new, complementary approaches to protected areas must be sought. Conservation concerns both these protected areas - or at least those free from human influence - and other areas where rural activities have shown their capacity to maintain high biological, physical and cultural diversity.

More than 90 per cent of the terrestrial surface of the earth is not covered by any form of protected area category. If this situation does not change, there will be severe loss of biological wealth in the next few decades. Many areas with the highest concentration of this biological wealth, an essential part of our natural heritage, are found in less developed countries



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