What to Expect for Rain Forests in 2016

Cherrapunjee Rain Forests by Ashwin Kumar. CC BY-SA 2.0
Cherrapunjee Rain Forests by Ashwin Kumar. CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

To view the complete list of Mongabay’s expectations for rain forests in 2016, click here.


10 Thoughts

  1. You give us a great reminder Josh. Conservation of wildlife is always connected to landscape, and in turn to people who live in or rely on that landscape and their outward relationship with the world.

    REDD+ received strong support in Paris, but lots of the details are still being debated. Rich countries funding economic development in poorer countries will only work for awhile. I am glad Mongabay highlighted that local communities often (but not always) do a better job of stewarding natural resources when their traditional rights are recognized. For my money, this is where the action for the next decade will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, so many aspects influence the conservation of wildlife: the health of their habitats and even current issues affecting the human societies they live alongside. The health of wildlife in turn can affect habitats, which always (eventually) impacts people. That’s why I’m always blabbering on about how everything’s connected.

      I’m also not convinced that wealthier nations funding development in less wealthy ones is the end-all-be-all. Granted it’s certainly a part of the solution; and from a human rights perspective it’s always good to try to even the playing field. But economies rise and fall, so a nation that’s wealthy today might not be in a few decades. So top-down approaches like that need to be balanced with ones that focus on empowering local communities, as you have said many times :)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very informative article, Josh. It’s is important for us to sit up and take note right now before it is too late. The conservation of natural habitats and ecological systems is very critical for our own survival too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, little things add up quickly to make a difference! It also turns out that the same values that promote helping each other are the ones that promote helping the environment. So even spreading kindness among one another can help towards conservation.

      Liked by 1 person

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