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Edited by Jon C. Lovett and David G. Ockwell
Tom M. van Rensburg and Greig A. Mill Introduction Biodiversity conservation has emerged as one of the most important and controversial global environmental issues in recent years (UNEP, 1995). First, it has been suggested that we are on the verge of mass extinctions, the like of which have not been observed in the fossil record (Wilson, 1985). Second, it is argued that biodiversity loss matters because it is of fundamental importance to human society. It provides food, shelter, fuel, supports recreation and tourism and is thought to play an important part in global life support and in the functioning of ecosystems (Lindberg, 1991; Raven et al., 1992; Brown et al., 1994). A decline in habitat is thought to be one of the most significant causes of the loss in terrestrial biodiversity (Wilson, 1985). A large proportion of the earth’s fertile land has been converted into managed agricultural, forest and urban landscape. Recent estimates by the FAO (2004) indicate that some 38 per cent of land globally is now utilized for agriculture. One solution proposed by ecologists is to expand reserves and protected areas. However, there are a number of problems with this approach: protected areas cover a limited area – approximately 11 per cent of the earth’s surface (WRI, 2005); protected areas generally exclude economic activities and they can impose costs on land managers and prevent future economic opportunities from taking place. Consequently, it is unlikely that the proportion of land allocated to protected areas will be sufficient to maintain all...
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