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Island Press
Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature / Edition 2

Making Parks Work: Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature / Edition 2


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781559639040
Publisher: Island Press
Publication date: 03/28/2002
Pages: 511
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

John Terborgh is co-director of The Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University, where he is James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science in the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Carel van Schaik is co-director of The Center for Tropical Conservation at Duke University, and professor of biological anthropology in the Nicholas School of the Environment.

Madhu Rao is associate conservation ecologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society

Lisa Davenport is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Contributors include Mario Boza, Katrina Brandon, K. Ullas Karanth, Randall Kramer, Jeff Langholz, John F. Oates, Carlos A. Peres, Herman Rijksen, Nick Salafsky, Thomas T. Struhsaker, Patricia C. Wright, and others.

Read an Excerpt

Making Parks Work

Strategies for Preserving Tropical Nature

By John Terborgh, Carel van Schaik, Lisa Davenport


Copyright © 2002 Island Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59726-310-8


Why the World Needs Parks


Experts estimate that extinctions are occurring at hundreds of times the rate recorded through normal times in fossil history, the so-called "background" extinction rate. An accelerated extinction rate is but one symptom among many, reflecting what Aldo Leopold referred to as the "wounds" humans have inflicted on nature. The abnormally high extinction rates of the present will continue well on into the twenty-first century, but at some distant future date will inevitably return to the background rate. What will be the condition of the earth's biota when that date arrives? Will the humans of that time inhabit a world of weeds, or will they inhabit a healthy planet with intact ecosystems, clean air, clean water, and abundant natural resources? The question is not a facetious one, for if current trends continue for even another fifty years, we shall, like it or not, inhabit a world of weeds.

Those of us who strive to conserve the earth's biodiversity are thus engaged in a race against time. This is not to belittle the progress made to date. Formal protection has been accorded to roughly 5 percent of the earth's terrestrial realm. Moreover, there is broad acceptance of the idea that humans have a moral obligation to share the earth with other forms of life. That moral obligation has been acknowledged by at least 80 percent of the governments on earth in the form of legally constituted protected areas. (Many of the nations still lacking protected area systems are tiny island republics; very few major continental countries have not established parks.)

Certainly, these steps represent a good beginning, but the global conservation system now in place is far from attaining a good end. That is evident in the already high and still rising rate of extinction and is evident in many other ways as well. Five percent of the earth's terrestrial habitat is not even close to being an adequate area in which to conserve the planet's biodiversity. Large numbers of future extinctions are foreordained if that number cannot be increased substantially. Even the 5 percent figure is partly an illusion, for much of the land now included in formally protected areas enshrines monumental scenery, in what is jocularly termed "the rocks and ice syndrome." Unfortunately, biodiversity tends to concentrate in fertile lowlands, lands that humans are reluctant to assign to other species, so protected areas in prime habitats tend to be small and few in number.

If rocks and ice occupy a disproportionate share of humanity's concession to nature (the world's largest park consists of the Greenland icecap), another large fraction of the total, no one knows precisely how large, is contained in so-called "paper parks." The term refers to parks that have not been implemented in any serious way and that enjoy only a virtual existence as lines drawn on official maps. Because they are not being actively protected, many paper parks are being degraded by illegal activities as documented in Last Stand: Protected Areas and the Defense of Tropical Biodiversity and Parks in Peril: People, Politics, and Protected Areas (see Figures 1-1a and 1-1b).

Efforts to conserve biodiversity thus face two major challenges. First, there needs to be more land dedicated to biodiversity—much more than is currently devoted to the purpose. And second, land that is dedicated to biodiversity conservation must be adequately protected from a whole host of erosive forces, many illegal but some legal. This book is directed primarily toward the second of these challenges, that of effectively implementing parks that already legally exist. Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks, recently published by Island Press, lays out the scientific principles that inform the design of comprehensive nature conservation systems. In Making Parks Work, the emphasis is on strategies for managing (including financing) established protected areas, especially in the tropics where 75 percent or more of the earth's biodiversity resides.

Recent experience with protected areas in tropical countries has not been encouraging. A large majority of tropical parks have people living within them, sometimes legally as well as illegally. Poaching of wildlife is a nearly universal problem. Blatantly illegal activities occur in many. The list is a familiar one and includes poaching, logging, agricultural encroachment, mining for gold, diamonds, and other precious materials, grazing, and extraction of natural products for the commercial market (see Figures 1-1a and 11b). In addition, many tropical protected areas have not been adequately demarcated, are inaccessible to tourists, are grossly underfinanced, and are staffed (if at all) by guards not empowered to carry arms or to make arrests. When parks are obliged to operate under so many handicaps, it is little wonder that institutional failure is more the norm than the exception.

Instead of abandoning the hundreds of parks that are currently foundering, ways of strengthening them must be found. In a growing number of countries, the parks are all that remain of the natural habitat, and are essentially the only places where any native large fauna survives. That can be said of Ghana and several other West African countries, but also of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Madagascar, India, Thailand, the Philippines, and several other Asian countries. A number of other countries—Mexico, Costa Rica, Kenya, Malaysia, and Nepal among them—will not be far behind in arriving at this state. The survival of nature almost uniquely in parks is inevitable where there are no firm mechanisms in place to prevent unprotected wildlands from being converted to human use.

Sustainable Development

The exasperation felt by many field-based conservationists who have been helpless witnesses to illegal activities in parks has led some to conclude that the whole concept of protecting nature in parks is viable only in prosperous, industrialized countries. Elsewhere in the world, they assert, parks simply don't work. Efforts to conserve nature should therefore take the form of encouraging sustainable development instead of delineating areas on the landscape and trying to curtail the exploitation of resources within them.

The intellectual bandwagon generated by such thinking has gained so much momentum, primarily among nonscientists, that some conservationists advocate the opening of parks to local populations for "sustainable use." Permitting resource extraction to be conducted in parks flies in the face of the very concepts of what a park is and the purpose it should serve. No apology should be required for adhering to the accepted definition of a (national) park as a haven for nature where people, except for visitors, staff, and concessionaires, are excluded. To advocate anything else for developing countries, simply because they are poor (one hopes, a temporary condition) is to advocate a double standard, something we find deplorable.

Although the defeatist attitude that motivates many sustainable use advocates is understandable, there is great danger in yielding to it. Parks are absolutely vital to the perpetuation of biodiversity in a human-dominated world. And sustainable development, whatever the term may mean in practice, cannot substitute for strictly protected areas. Nature will survive best in the future as it has survived through millennia past in the absence of any artificial alteration or intervention. Inescapably, sustainable use implies the intervention of humans on the landscape and the exploitation of natural resources.

Sustainable development other than ecotourism is incompatible with nature conservation because, for one, humans and animals do not mix well. Humans tend to fear some animals, to eat others, and to regard still others as nuisances. A recent study of humans and elephants in Africa, for example, found that elephants persist until the human population of a region exceeds fifteen per square kilometer, which corresponds to a level of land transformation of approximately 40 to 50 percent. Elephants are absent from more densely populated areas because they are killed or driven off by humans defending their crops. Large carnivores threaten livestock and are persecuted nearly universally. When persecution occurs around the boundaries of small- to medium-sized protected areas, their carnivore populations tend to disappear. Thus, humans, even in low numbers, are incompatible with the persistence of megaherbivores and top carnivores, two groups of animals that are among the most crucial to maintaining normal ecosystem functioning. In the absence of large carnivores and herbivores, a "trophic cascade" ensues, resulting in a rush of extinctions, as the entire ecosystem collapses to a simpler, impoverished state.

On a broader plain, our view is that "sustainable use" is more a utopian ideal than a reality, and that many positive assessments of sustainable use systems are either speculation or wishful thinking. When so-called sustainable harvest systems have been examined critically, with appropriate measurements and statistical analysis, more often than not the results have shown that current harvest rates were in fact nonsustainable. Other proposed benign uses of tropical forests, for example as repositories of future wonder drugs, remain in the realm of speculation. As judged by the results to date of several large-scale bioprospecting efforts currently under way, these speculations appear greatly overtouted. It does a serious disservice to nature to overestimate the benefits to be realized through sustainable use, for it raises false expectations that can later turn to disillusionment.

By asserting that "sustainable development" other than ecotourism is not an acceptable management option, we are speaking only of strict nature preserves, such as national parks and other preserves with equivalent status. We fervently affirm that sustainable development outside parks is ultimately a necessity if the human economy is ever going to come to equilibrium with the limited supply of natural resources available on Earth. But let no one be seduced into thinking that efforts to promote sustainable development will result coincidentally in the preservation of nature, because there is no necessary link between the two. Nature conservation must be pursued as a separate issue and according to scientifically validated principles.

Sustainable development will come about gradually over the course of many decades, perhaps centuries, as the human population stabilizes or (better) declines, and as new technologies and patterns of resource use replace the current unsustainable ones. Conserving nature cannot wait for this halcyon day; forests, coral reefs, and other vital habitats are disappearing now, so actions to prevent their complete loss must be taken straightaway. Given the urgency of the matter, preconditions cannot be countenanced.

Parks and Economic Development

Successful parks are not merely a concomitant of affluence. Some relatively poor countries have been able to maintain parks with little external help, and some relatively prosperous ones have conspicuously failed. Attitudes and the strength of indigenous institutions are major, perhaps crucial, components of success. Even in teeming India there are parks in which the condition of nature has improved measurably in recent decades (see chapter 14). On the other hand, Brazil, with the world's tenth-largest economy, has more "paper parks" than park guards in the Amazon. Benefiting India's parks is a stable society in which children learn to respect the rights of others and the law. But a frontier mentality pervades Brazil and the "devil take the hindmost" attitude that goes with it (see also chapter 30).

One generalization that does cut across cultures is that parks are better supported by the public in countries with the affluence to experience them. National parks in the United States, for example, cater to a public eager to enjoy scenery, wildlife, and recreational activities. U.S. parks are well staffed and provide facilities such as information centers, rest rooms, restaurants, and overnight accommodations as well as offering backcountry hiking and camping. Making parks user friendly requires only minimal compromises to their primary role as nature preserves. The fact that extinctions have occurred in many U.S. national parks is not so much a fault of management as it is a fault of design. Many are simply too small to retain area-demanding species, such as carnivores and other large mammals.

The value of the national park system to U.S. citizens is suggested by the size of the annual budget that supports it—some $2.4 billion in 2001. When U.S. citizens are queried on their opinions of various domestic institutions, the National Park Service invariably comes out near the top, with more than 90 percent approval. Such high plaudits are not restricted to citizens, for millions of foreigners come to the United States every year for the primary purpose of visiting national parks.

Unfortunately, such high public appreciation of parks does not extend to much of the rest of the world. Outside of a few countries, parks are a relatively new phenomenon. The majority of the world's parkland was created in the decades of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Many of these recently established parks are in developing countries burdened by poverty and massive external debts. In such countries there is a widespread view that parks largely benefit foreigners, so financially hard-pressed governments are understandably reluctant to allocate scarce resources to park protection. Even though the industrialized countries are increasingly reducing or canceling the debts of the poorest nations, the social needs of these countries continue to rise and, in some cases, appear almost insurmountable. It is thus unrealistic to imagine that parks will receive a larger share of the national budgets of countries in need. The conclusion seems inescapable that parks in the developing world will succeed only when there are substantial transfers of funds, practical experience, and commitment from the wealthy nations (see chapter 27).

Parks as Cultural Imperialism?

Some authors have argued that efforts to conserve biodiversity in developing nations through establishing parks represents a form of cultural imperialism, an attempt to force Western or Northern values on the unwitting citizens of poor countries at the cost of a diminished economic future. The argument merits rebuttal, for it has a small but vocal following. There are two points to consider. First, one must ask whether it is "wrong" to export cultural values. Second, does the cost of creating protected areas to the individuals most affected exceed the benefit of having the protected areas once they exist?

As to the morality of exporting cultural values, the argument has no substance. The world is a free and open marketplace of cultural values. We in North America drink French wine, wear Italian shoes, and drive Japanese automobiles without giving a thought to being oppressed by other cultures. Indeed, we are eager for the trappings of cultural diversity, as are the citizens of developing countries, who aspire to learn Western languages, fly in jet aircraft, and surf the Net. There is nothing moral or immoral about this; it results from normal human desires and inquisitiveness.

Neither should North Americans have moral qualms about exporting a suite of more abstract cultural values to the citizens of developing countries. Literacy, science, medicine, democracy, equality, human rights, transparency, and public accountability are all virtues we hold dear. Why should we not export these values in the interest of making the world a better place? And should nature—the existence of beings other than ourselves—not hold a place among these values? The idea that it is somehow imperialistic or immoral to encourage the people of other cultures to value and conserve nature simply doesn't hold water.


Excerpted from Making Parks Work by John Terborgh, Carel van Schaik, Lisa Davenport. Copyright © 2002 Island Press. Excerpted by permission of ISLAND PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
PART I. Introduction
Chapter 1. Why the World Needs Parks
Chapter 2. Integrated Conservation and Development Projects: Problems and Potential
Chapter 3. The History of Protection: Paradoxes of the Past and Challenges for the Future
PART II. Case Studies
Chapter 4. Scenes from the Front Lines of Conservation Africa
Chapter 5. West Africa: Tropical Forest Parks on the Brink
Chapter 6. Parks in the Congo Basin: Can Conservation and Development B Reconciled?
Chapter 7. Conservation in Anarchy: Key Conditions for Successful Conservation of the Okapi Faunal Reserve
Chapter 8. Strategies for Conserving Forest National Parks in Africa with a Case Study from Uganda
Chapter 9. Making a Rain Forest National Park Work in Madagascar: Ranoma-fana National Park and Its Long-term Research Commitment Latin America
Chapter 10. Expanding Conservation Area Networks in the Last Wilderness Frontiers: The Case of Brazilian Amazonia
Chapter 11. The National Sanctuary Pampas del Heath: Case Study of a Typical "Paper Park" under Management of an NGO
Chapter 12. Successes and Failings of the Monteverde Reserve Complex and Costa Rica's System of National Protected Areas
Chapter 13. Privatey Owned Parks Asia
Chapter 14. Nagarahole: Limits and Opportunities in Wildlife Conservation
Chapter 15. Conserving the Leuser Ecosystem: Politics, Policies, and People
Chapter16. Conservation of Protected Areas in Thailand: A Diversity of Problems, a Diversity of Solutions
Chapter 17. Biodiversity Conservation in the Kingdom of Bhutan
PART III. Themes
Chapter 18. Overcoming Impediments to Conservation Park Level
Chapter 19. Mitigating Human-Wildlife Conflicts in Southern Asia
Chapter 20. Enforcement Mechanisms
Chapter 21. Ecotourism Tools for Parks
Chapter 22. The Problem of People in Parks National Level
Chapter 23. Political Will for Establishing and Managing Parks
Chapter 24. The Role of the Private Sector in Protected Area Establishment and Management
Chapter 25. Anarchy and Parks: Dealing with Political Instability International Level
Chapter 26. Financing Protected Areas 
Chapter 27. Internationalization of Nature Conservation General Tools
Chapter 28. Monitoring Protected Areas
Chapter 29. Breaking the Cycle: Developing Guiding Principles for Using Protected Area Conservation Strategies
Chapter 30. The Frontier Model of Development and Its Relevance to Protected Area Management
PART IV. Conclusions
Chapter 31. Putting the Right Parks in the Right Places
Chapter 32. Making Parks Work: Past, Present, and Future
List of Contributors

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