Biodiversity Under Threat - Case Studies

  • Created by: ellie98
  • Created on: 29-03-16 12:40

Fynbos - South Africa

  • Fynbos = the major vegetation type of the small botanical region in South Arica known as the Cape Floral Kingdom
  • Cape Floral Kingdom = smallest + richest kingdom
  • 1,300 plant species per 10,000km2
  • Home to over 7,700 plant species - 70% of which are endemic
  • Fynbos = "fine leaved plant"
    -> adapted to the mediterranean climate of the Cape (summer heat + drought)


  • Alien plant species (e.g. Australian Acacia)
  • Construction
  • Commercial forestry
  • Frequent bush fires
  • Intensification of agriculture
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Coral Reef - Value + Importance

  • Occupy only 0.15 of the marine environment, but are home to over 25% of all known marine fish
  • They 'buffer' coasts from wave erosion and the impact of storms - they'll become more critical as global warming causes sea level rise
  • Local people eat fish, lobsters + sea urchins. Also make a major contribution to commercial fishing - reef fisheries feed 1 billion people in the far east - FOOD SOURCE
  • Algae and sponges yield bioactive compounds used by pharmaceutical industry - reef species support new treatments for bacterial infections + cancers - MEDICINES
  • Reefs contain resident animals (soft corals, sea anemones, sea horses) - AQUARIUM INDUSTRY
  • Black coral is used in the ornamental + jewellery industry - TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
  • Coral reefs are mined for lime and stone for countries that lack alternatives for construction
  • They provide ideal habitats due to their shallow water and easy accessibility from shore - MARINE ECOSYSTEM RESEARCH
  • More than 100 of the 109 countries with reefs have established tourist industries
    -> some Caribbean countries derive 1/2 of GNP from tourism) - TOURISM
  • Example: The Great Barrief Reef - Australia
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The Atlantic Forest - Brazil

  • 20,000 plants - 6,000 endemic
  • 8% of earth's endemics
  • 950 bird species - 55 endemic
  • 269 mammals - 3 species of the lion tamarin
  • 1,300 vertebrates - 500 endemics
  • 458 tree species in under a hectare 
  • Designated a 'biodiversity hotspot' in 1999
  • South-eastern Brazil
  • Largely along the coast
  • Under constant threat from urbanisation by Brazil's largest cities: Rio de Janeiro + Sao Paulo
  • Pressure for timber from the forest for fuel and the construction of illegal shelters (slums)
  • Currently covers 99,944km2 (50% is protected)
  • Designated a 'Brazilian National Heritage Site' in 1988 and..
  • ...A 'UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve' in 1992
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The Amazon Rainforest


- Amazon rainfall + rivers feeding regions that generate 70% percent of South America's GDP
- Rainfall (moisture from the Amazon) influences rainfall as far away as the Western US and Central US

Carbon Storage

- 390 billion trees across the rainforest locks up massive amounts of carbon in their leaves, branches + trunks
- Estimated 86 billion tons of carbon stored by tropical forests worldwide


- Home to more species of plants + animals than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet
-> 30% of world's species found there

Local Benefits

- Timber, rivers = transport, fish, agriculture (source of shelter, fuel, food)

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The Amazon Rainforest - Value + Importance

Climate Regulation
- The rainforest stores water from the forest floor and releases it back in to the atmosphere (as cloud and mist)
- Continuously recycle huge quantities of water
- Without it, droughts would become more common

Prevent Soil Erosion
- Nutrients are stored in the vast numbers of trees and plants rather than in the soil
- Tree roots bind the soil together

Cleansing Atmosphere
- They absorb CO2 and release oxygen needed for humans to breathe 

Home / Shelter
- Many people live in the rainforest and depend on it for their food, shelter + medicines
- They also use the forest for their way of life - cultural appreciation of the forest

- 25% of modern medicines originate from tropical forest plants 

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Southern Oceans Fisheries - Sustainable Yields

  • Encircles Antarctica and accounts for 10% of world's oceans
  • Antarctic treaty system (1961) - fisheries are sustainably managed
  • Previously over harvested leading to an extinction of some fin fish
  • Model used to calculate fishing yield has a 3 pronged approach:

1: Single Species Approach

Limits harvesting individual species which are indefinitely sutainable

2: Ecosystem Approach

Considering harvested species both on their own and in relation to dependant species and whole environment

3: Precautionary Principle

Aim to model the consequences of any expansion of catches before permitted

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Campfire - Zimbabwe

  • The Communal Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources
  • Pioneering scheme developed in 1980s
  • Aimed for long term development, management and sustainable use of natural resources
  • Places responsibilty with local people, allowing them to benefit from exploitation of available resources
  • Bottom-up approach
  • Schemes and wildlife used varied locally
  • Some made money from big game hunting at sustainable levels
  • Scheme collase when Zimbabwe's economy crashed
  • Also poaching last of it off, land takeovers
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Heather Moorland and the Red Grouse

  • 75% of the world's remaining moorland is in the UK
  • In the 2nd half of the 20th century much of the UK's moorland was lost to being ploughed up and 'improved'
  • The moorland association (an NGO) represents the owners and managers of grouse moors and believes that it is conserving the countryside and providing jobs and incomes to rural communities
  • Grouse shoots need accomodation, restaurants, beaters, helpers and gamekeepers
  • In some areas the RSPB believes that heather burning was carried out too extensively and changed the habitat of the heather
  • Problems also arose over illegal killing of birds of prey
  • Gamekeepers regard the red grouse as the most important element
  • Farmers wish to remove the heather
  • RSPB want to conserve the landscape
  • High conflict likely
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Agro forestry in Amazonia

  • Still the largest undisturbed area of tropical rainforest -> many threats
  • Caboclo villagers and their sustainable interaction with the rainforest
  • Tapping rubber trees for rubber latex (doesn't harm trees) vs. Brazil importing rubber
  • Grow trees - jackfruit, breadfruit, bananas, coffee
    -> shelter for smaller plants to grow, such as beans and fruits
  • Keep pigs + chicken for meat which forage (polyculture)
  • Bottom-up approach - villager interaction
  • Sustainable use of forest to generate income and sustain populations
  • Incorporates these elements into cultural appreciation of the forest by locals
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Sustainable Commercial Forestry - Sabah, Malaysia

  • Suffered heavy logging during 20th century
  • Lack of overall national management
  • Logging companies ignored guidelines
  • Reduced impact logging is practiced
  • Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) 
  • Heli-logging - valuable trees taken by helicopter to avoid damage to other trees
  • RIL limits use of heavy machinery
  • Palm oil plantations replace heavily logged areas - economic return to stimulate economy
  • Sustainable commercial forestry of the land
  • Lessens impact on the overall forest
  • Still benefit from economic factors
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The Forestry Stewardship Council

  • Ensures timber buyers they buy from sustainably sourced woods
  • Operates in 30 countries
  • Recognised by the FSC label and logo
  • Illegal forestry becomes less profitable
  • Therefore it helps combat illegal forestry and eradicate it 
  • Ensures that timber is sourced sustainably and therefore forests are sustainably managed
  • Widescale approach that has a big impact
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Yellowstone National Park - Conservation

  • Nearly 35,000sq miles
  • Home to hundreds of animal species
    -> bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears (imperiled by logging, mining, oil and gas drilling)
  • Management of bison
  • Native fish conservation
  • Stopped the grizzly bear hunting seasons in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem


  • National and high profile - increases conservation effort
  • Biodiversity is stil preserved
  • Allows access for aesthetic and cultural services
  • Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan - 1993
  • Guides management when the grizzly bear is on the threatened species list
  • When off the list - The Grizzly Conservation Strategy emphasises coordination and cooperative working relationships between management agencies, landowners and the public
  • Incorporates existing laws, regulations, policies and goals
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Gulf of Mannar - Biosphere Reserve

  • Known to harbour over 3,600 species of floral and fauna - one of the richest coastal regions in Asia
  • 117 hard coral species
  • Sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, dugongs
  • Overharvesting has become an issue
  • Pearl oyster and acorn worm population has declined
  • Destructive fishing methods and stress of pollution and coral mining has had a negative effect on populations


  • 10km buffer zone + Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park =  became a Biosphere Reserve in 1989
  • Covers 10,500km2 of ocean, islands and coastline
  • Lion fish, Green Sea Turtle, Yellow Butterfly Fish
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Impact of Global Warming on the Arctic

  • Sea ice reflects more heat than tundra or forest
  • Therefore, the planet will warm if more and more sea ice is lost - lower albedo
  • Arctic plants capture carbon dioxide quicker than the soil can release it - arctic soils have accumulated 11% of the world's carbon
  • Predicted that the Arctic will warm faster than anywhere else in the world (up to 12 degrees)
  • Summer sea ice in September will become reduced by 50% in 2050
  • Possible benefits - new gas and oil fields will be made accessible (25% of reserves)
  • Prolonging the navigation season and opening new shipping routes 45% shorter than through the Suez
  • Increased tourism and mineral exploitation opportunities
  • Develop domestic resources - e.g. ANWR
  • Negatives - rising sea levels (coastal erosion acceleration)
  • Less sea ice forces polar bears into towns to feed - risk to humans
  • Glaciers in rapid retreat - flooding will become common
  • Salmon in the Yukon river in decline - food source
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Invasive species in the Galapagos

  • Off the coast of Ecuador; the Galapagos qualify as a hotspot on the basis of their endemism and the severe threat facing the unique ecosystem.
  • A huge range of alien species were introduced from the Ecuadorian main land by people seeking to make a living from FISHING and TOURSIM.
  • 60% of the 180 endemic plant species are threatened
  • 490 recorded introduced insect species – of these 55 are ‘high risk’ with the potential to cause severe damage to native biodiversity.
  • New vertebrate species arrive every year and aggressive invasive species such as mainland snake predators could soon establish themselves.
  • Actions have been taken to preserve endemism in the Galapagos:
  • Eradication of introducing rodents/feral cats
  • Removing the quinine tree (one of the most serious plant invaders)
  • Many other pressures – including that of tourism - thousands of visitors each year.
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Degraded: Masai Mara Game Reserve (Tanzania)

  • Break down in management - decline in general stage of its grassland ecosystem. 
  • Park fees paid by tourists (intended to go towards protecting the reserve) haven't reached intended destination
  • Park rangers were not properly paid and lacked bsic equipment - could do little to stop illegal hunting of game that tourists wanted to see
  • JUNE 2008: local councils that plan the park were replaced by a private organisation - Mara Conservation
  • $300,000 donation from private donoros (importance of individuals highlighted) allowed purchase of vehicles and pay for rangers
  • Non profit basis organisation - 50% of revenue will build roads and finance anti-poaching patrols
  • The other 50% will filter through to the local Masai tribe - they are crucial to the future of the reserve as it requires them to give up cattle grazing land for the conservation of wildlife
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Pristine: Udzungwa Mountains National Park

  • Udzungwa Mountains National Park lies in south-central Tanzania
  • Contains some of the highest biological diversity in Africa
  • Harbours 30-40% of endemic, rare and endangered species of plants and animals, and supports some of the most ancient and diverse biological communities in Africa
  • Also borders human settlements where people struggle to meet basic needs: food, fuels
  • Educate students to be able to understand and resolve competing demands of nature and human development in the places where those issues are most pressing 
  • The Penn State Study Abroad Programme - focuses on local communities - aim to create plans and designs that incorporate village activties and conserve biodiversity
  • Bottom-up approach
  • The park supports diverse wildlife: elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, African wild dog and  6 species of primate / 2 of which are endemic
  • WWF is working with Tanzania's wildlife services, local communities and the private sector to protect the park
  • Recovery of forests within the park has improved local and regional rainfall and stream flow
  • 4 community-based managed forests have been established
  • 25% of houses use wood from own planted trees
  • 40% of households using energy saving stoves
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Protected: St Lucia (Caribbean)

  • Coastline of St Lucias contains particularly rich and varied marine resources: coral, mangrove forests, fish, beach habitats
  • Very valuable to the people 
  • Coral Reefs: 1998 survery showed that 65% of coral reefs in the Caribbean were in danger
  • The Soufriere Marine Management Area
  • Since 1986, St Lucia's governemt's Department of Fisheries, Department of Tourism, local tourism organisations and the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation have worked togther to prevent further disturbance
  • They set up the SMMA - a 12km stretch of coastline with six sections now marine reserves - fishing priority areas were established in another 3 sections
  • They provide information to the public on how to conserve the area, regularly check the coral, water quality and other indicators, carry out scientific research on the natural resources of the area and build facilities that cause less damage to the environment 
  • Conflicts can arise = e.g. tour operators and local fishermen
  • Coral reefs also depend on the health of other marine ecosystems such as mangrove forests - they are source of fuelwood, habitats for young fish and crabs, natural filter to keep the water clean
  • Once US airbase in the Mankote mangroves closed - destruction was rife, used for dumping ground, fishing and hunting
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