While this blog is primarily about wild felids and the human dimensions of their conservation, I have written before about my interest in tropical rain forests. From a practical standpoint, it is impossible to guarantee a future for jaguars without also conserving their habitats. The Amazon rain forest is one of the most important jaguar habitats (Caso et al., 2008), so its protection is critical.
Therefore I feel it is appropriate to share Mongabay’s predictions for rain forests in 2016. As you can see, the news is a mixture of good and bad.
On the plus side, there is increasing global recognition for the importance of tropical rain forests. Indonesia has pledged to increase environmental regulations following the disastrous peat fires of 2015, and many countries have committed to reduce deforestation. There is also a greater push to give indigenous communities more control over their own lands, as this has been shown to be good for conservation. This approach is not perfect, however, and must well-planned.
Of particular interest is the dual-edged sword of economics. Several of Mongabay’s predictions center around slowing economies in certain nations. This can have positive effects, such as decreasing China’s demand for rain forest products.
But when people feel threatened or overburdened, it activates the values that are most likely to undermine effective conservation (Blackmore, Underhill, McQuilkin, Leach, & Holmes, 2013). Perhaps this is why Mongabay believes Brazil’s worsening economy could lead to a weakening of environmental laws and increased agricultural expansion into vulnerable and priceless ecosystems.