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Protected Areas Target Not Enough - Mass Extinction Forseen



Groundbreaking Science Report Reveals 12% Protected Areas Target
will Lead to Mass Extinctions

Vancouver, B.C. June 16 1997. At 10:00 a.m. today PST at Robson
Media Center - (800 Robson Street, downtown Vancouver), world
renouned scientists, Drs M.E. Soul, and M. A. Sanjayan, released
a report assessing the biological implications protecting only
10 or 12 per cent of their native ecosystems. The report,
commissioned by Greenpeace, and released on the verge of the
Special Session on Environment of the UN General Assembly (Earth
Summit 2), highlights that up to half of the world's biological
heritage is threatened with extinction unless current caps on
protected areas are lifted. British Columbia's
endangered temperate rainforests were used as the case study
within this preliminary report.

"The 12 per cent target for land area protection is not
sufficient to maintain viable populations of species in British
Columbia", said Dr. M.A. Sanjayan. 

"The 12% target is a political construct that is not borne out
by good science. Even more disturbing is the fact that 
over 60 per cent of what has been protected in B.C. since 1992
has been rock and ice."

Leading conservation organisations in British Columbia responded
by urging the BC provincial government to remove the 12% limit
on protected area status. Morethan 40 NGOs noted that BC is home
to the largest undisturbed tract of ancient temperate rainforest
in the world, but 36 of the 76 unprotected intact valleys in
BC's Great Bear Rainforest are scheduled to be logged in the
next five years.

"International organisations and governments that recommend
national targets for protection, of say, ten percent are
implicitly justifying an extinction of roughly fifty per cent,
on
average, of each nation's biotic heritage,'said Dr Michael
Soul,, founder of the Society for Conservation Biology. "We are
left to wonder whether history will judge the current
guidelines as examples complicit with the major environmental
catastrophe in the last 60 million years." 

Based on this report, Greenpeace is calling on world governments
to: 1) Triple the existing area of protected forests by the year
2000, towards a goal of ecologically-representative
protected areas that are large enough to maintain viable
populations of associated species and natural dynamics; 2)
Restoration of underrepresented forest ecosystems to meet the
protected
areas species conservation objectives and ensuring adequate
connectivity between protected areas; 3) Eliminating the
conversion of natural forests to semi-natural or monoculture
plantations; 4) Continuing the process of respecting and
demarcating all indigenous peoples' lands and implementing
adequate extractive reserves and non-resource extraction zones;
5) 
Participation of indigenous peoples in conservation measures,
based on the recognition of their rights to manage and use their
traditional forest arrears.

Specifically to British Columbia's endangered coastal temperate
rainforests, Greenpeace demands:
1) No logging in any of the remaining pristine rainforest
valleys; 2) No new roads in the temperate rainforest; 3) An
immediate end to clearcutting; 4) Deferral on 45% of each
representative ecosystems in B.C. until proper conservation
needs assessments have been completed and implemented.
Additionally, Greenpeace calls for the Canadian federal
government to draft and implement an endangered species act
which applies to all of Canada's landbase and ensures the
protection of critical species habitat.

Contacts: 
Greenpeace in Canada: Tzeporah Berman, Patrick Anderson and
Alison Turner (604) 253-
7701 or (604) 220-7701. 
Greenpeace International: Holger Roenitz: 31-20-523-6555

About the Authors:

Biologist Michael Soule' is the author more than 100 scientific
publications including several groundbreaking 
books on conservation and conservation biology. He was a founder
and first president of the Society for 
Conservation Biology, was a co-author of the original draft of
the biodiversity convention , was one of the founders 
and currently President of The Wildlands Project, is a Fellow of
the American Association for the Advancement of 
Science and has consulted for many agencies and organizations,
including UNEP, FAO, UNESCO, WWF-US, 
NAS/NRC, and the now defunct Office of Technology Assessment. He
graduated from San Diego State University 
in 1959, then received his advanced degrees from Stanford
University, studying closely with Paul R. Ehrlich. He is 
currently Research Professor (emeritus) of Environmental Studies
at UC Santa Cruz. He also serves on the science 
advisory boards of several organizations, including La Sierra
Foundation, The Defenders of Wildlife, and The 
Nature Conservancy.

Biologist M.A. Sanjayan has authored four publications on the
relationship between genetic variation and 
species fitness in nature, especially as species become isolated
through habitat fragmentation. He has consulted to 
the World Bank on a number of projects, including the Global
Environment Facilities grant portfolio and Integrated 
Conservation and Development Projects (ICDPs), as well as
organizing workshops to bridge the gap between 
indigenous peoples and the conservation community. Dr.
Muttlulingam received his BS and MS at the University of 
Oregon and his doctorate under Michael Soule' at the University
of California, Santa Cruz.

BACKGROUND TO THE REPORT, MOVING BEYOND BRUNDTLAND - The
Conservation Value of British Columbia's 12 Percent Protected
Area Strategy


PROBLEM STATEMENT

An estimated 50-90% of the world's plant and animal species
depend on forests, with the IUCN reporting that the percentage
of "Red List" species endangered globally by loss of forest and
other natural habitat is: 75% of mammals, 42% of birds, 53% of
amphibians and 66% of reptiles. This report was commissioned to
identify concrete steps that governments can take to slow or
prevent this global catastrophe. It focuses on the case study of
British Columbia's rainforests, the region with the highest
number of old growth-dependent species in North America - which
is scheduled to have half of its intact watersheds logged or
roaded in the next five years. The Provincial Government of B.C.
has been adamant in capping province-wide protection at 12%.
Greenpeace sought an independent analysis of the scientific
basis of this cap and what the consequences might be for B.C.'s
rainforests and its associated species.

KEY FINDINGS OF MOVING BEYOND BRUNDTLAND 

 A number of historic international meetings, most notably the
3rd World Congress on National Parks - which led to the 1981
Bali Action Plan - and the U.N. World Commission
on Environment and Development - which led to Our Common Future
(the Brundtland Report), have set targets towards global
protected areas.  These have generally been set artificially low
to avoid seeming "unrealistic". Across the board, there was
acknowledgment that creation of protected areas has been driven
as much or more by political considerations than well-reasoned,
scientifically-based ecosystem planning.

 It is unclear, however, how useful such fixed targets are in
promoting actual conservation. 
The question remains whether such protection targets actually do
more harm than good in maintaining the integrity of the
ecosystem and the viability of the component species because
they are too low and have commonly been mis-interpreted, notably
by British Columbia's provincial Government on its 12% limit and
by governments responding to the World Wildlife Fund for
Nature's call for an interim protected area target of 10% by the
year 2000.

 A review of the literature of the field of conservation
biology estimates that protecting between 25 and 45% of the
temperate regions is likely necessary to fully conserve the
planet's temperate terrestrial biological diversity, although
not all as national parks.  That proportion is higher in
tropical areas and perhaps lower in the boreal zones. This
figure is based on an empirically established principle referred
to as the 'species-area relationship"
from the field of island biogeography.

 A corollary of the species-area relationship is that a 90%
loss of habitat will precipitate a 50% loss of species within
the remnant of natural habitat, assuming that the remnant itself
is
unfragmented. In other words, reaching only the protected areas
target set by a number of the world's governments, while
allowing widespread conversion in the remaining areas,
would represent the single greatest ecological catastrophe of
the past 60 million years.

 The best way of protecting species is through the
comprehensive protection of ecologically-representative core
areas that are fully off-limits to industrial resource
extraction, connected by biological corridors and large enough
to maintain all associated
species and natural dynamics.

 In British Columbia, the 12% ceiling is a result of the
current New Democratic Party's initial acceptance of the interim
target of WWF's "Endangered Spaces" campaign, but eventual
caving-in to timber, mining and other resource extraction
interests to set this as an immovable cap. This ceiling is not
the result of scientific gap analysis by B.C. government
agencies, and in fact preceded some of the baseline scientific
studies by those agencies that
would have helped to determine a more realistic protected areas
strategy.

 Big mammals need big protected areas. In the United States,
the goal of the official recovery plan for grizzly bears is a
population of 500 breeding individuals, which represents
an actual population size of about 2000 individual grizzlies,
requiring a connected territory of 129,500 km2. This territorial
estimate supports the call by groups such as Greenpeace and the
Canadian Rainforest Network who have called for a moratorium on
logging the intact watersheds of the "Great Bear Rainforest" -
the  midcoast region of B.C. which supports one
of the healthiest populations of grizzly bears in the world.

 While gaining international attention for its recent park
creation, B.C. parks are generally too small. About 30% of the
terrestrial ecosections defined by the province of B.C. continue
to have essentially no representation, and half of the
ecosections have less than 6% of their areas designated for
protection. Even more disturbing is that as of 1996, 61.2% of
the total
new protected area designated since November 1991 was classified
as alpine or sub-alpine, perpetuating the bias in favour of
"rock and ice". This means that only 2.8% remains to be
designated in a manner that would compensate for the imbalances
of the past.


GREENPEACE's CALL TO ACTION

Greenpeace calls for the world's governments to stop endangering
forests and the diversity of life that depend on them through
comprehensive forest protection, restoration and connection, and
to ensure the rights of traditional forest-dependent cultures
through the following policies:

- tripling the total global area of ecologically representative
networks of protected forest areas by 2000, making progress
towards a goal of global protected areas that are large enough
to adequately maintain viable populations of associated species
and natural dynamics;

- restoration of under-represented forest ecosystems to meet the
protected area species conservation objectives and ensuring
adequate connectivity between protected areas;

- eliminating the conversion of natural forests to semi-natural
or monoculture plantations;

- continuing the process of respecting and demarcating all
indigenous peoples" lands and implementing adequate extractive
reserves and resource extraction-free zones;

- participation of indigenous peoples in conservation measures,
based on the recognition of their rights to manage and use their
traditional forest areas.

Specifically for British Columbia's endangered coastal temperate
rainforests, Greenpeace demands:

- no logging in any of the remaining pristine rainforest
valleys;

- no new roads in the temperate rainforest;

- an immediate end to clearcutting;

- Deferral on 45% of each representative ecosystem in B.C. until
proper conservation needs assessments have been completed and
implemented. Additionally, Greenpeace calls for the Canadian
federal government to draft and implement an endangered species
act covering all of Canada.