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Each year, more than a million wildebeest migrate across the grassy plains of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania into Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. But on the borders of these protected areas, human populations are increasing and wild ecosystems are struggling to survive in the face of development. Understanding these pressures is crucial for protecting people and wildlife, and to curb illegal activities such as poaching.
"Outside the park, it is dramatic," said Professor Eivin Røskaft, an evolutionary biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and coordinator of a project called AfricanBioServices. "Where there are humans, there is almost no wildlife left."
Case - World - Threat - Species - Extinction
This is not a unique case. Around the world, ecosystems are under threat and more than 1 million species face extinction, according to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services, or IPBES, published in 2019.
One way to stave off biodiversity and habitat loss is to create protected areas. About 15% of land is included in the global protected area network, but in about one-third of that total area, humans and wildlife, or authorities protecting it, come into conflict: poachers kill wildlife, bordering communities let their livestock graze within the protected area, and government officials try to stop them.
Situations - Data - Problems - Order - Conflict
But what is often lacking in these situations is data indicating where and what the problems are in order to address this conflict. Understanding this could help find ways to protect ecosystems and meet people's needs.
AfricanBioServices, a four-year project that ended in August 2019, aimed to understand what is happening in the Greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in eastern Africa. It produced more than 30 peer-reviewed papers, filling the previous data vacuum.
Population - Growth - Climate - Change - Impact
"We looked at how human population growth and climate change, together, have an impact on the ecosystem, and what this means for the future," Prof. Røskaft...
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