The world's biodiversity is in trouble, with wildlife crime, the spread of invasive species, and loss of habitat reducing the number of species. The loss has economy-wide consequences, but biodiversity is especially important for the 870 million rural poor whose livelihoods and safety nets are inextricably linked to natural and semi-natural ecosystems.
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Today, on World Wildlife Day, the World Bank is partnering with ICWICC to “get serious about wildlife crime.” We asked experts at World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank to explain the link between wil... Show More +dlife crime and lack of economic opportunity. Some of the answers are collected below. World Bank experts Valerie Hickey and Bill Magrath also penned a blog about why poaching is not a “poverty problem.”Question 1: What is the connection between wildlife crime and lack of economic opportunity?Rob Steinmetz, Conservation Biologist, WWF Thailand -- “As a general observation, regardless of economic status or opportunities, most people actually do not poach. Around protected areas in this region, 99% of people could probably be classified as "impoverished". Yet 99% of people do not poach. If economic opportunity were the main driver of poaching, then wildlife would have been eradicated a very long time ago. The link between economic opportunity and poaching is more complex than has been traditionally assumed. I'll give four examples that show this.In North America and Scandinavia, where farmers are wealthy, there is strong disdain for wolves and they are frequently poached as a population control measure despite widespread NGO and government compensation schemes. In this example, poaching occurs despite plenty of economic opportunity.In the West African nation of Ghana, commercial poaching has increased due to local fishermen taking up hunting, after their fishing grounds were decimated by fishing concessions given to other nations. In this example, you could say that loss of economic opportunity had increased poaching. But--delving more deeply--the driver was capitalist economic relations that took resources away from local people and awarded them to groups with more money and power.A third and more positive example is from a national park in Thailand, where poaching declined even though economic opportunities remained constrained and unstable among local pineapple farmers. This case points out that other factors can override economics, such as positive park-people relations that build local ownership and concern. (See WWF story: “Community engagement decreases poaching”)As a fourth example, indigenous people in a Thailand wildlife sanctuary, with few economic opportunities, have enthusiastically patrolled and protected large portions of the sanctuary from outside commercial poachers. They are motivated by the desire to have a proactive and empowered role in resource management. In this case, native cultural traditions and the social norms that follow were very powerful in promoting protection over commercial poaching.Khalid Pasha, CA|TS Manager, WWF Tigers Alive Initiative -- “Wildlife trade has shifted over the years, from killing or hunting wildlife for subsistence, to catering to local demands and beyond, to becoming a complete financial venture for some. Trends show that it is not the less-skilled casual hunters that are in the game today. With protected species becoming scarcer, casual hunters are replaced or joined by more high-tech or professionalized hunters, or in other places casual hunters are slowly becoming more sophisticated. For example, the poaching of elephants and rhinos in African countries is carried out by heavily trained militias with sophisticated weapons. Even tiger poaching in India and other range countries is becoming more organized. The most impoverished are not those who drive the poaching, but rather they are poaching’s victims.A deeper understanding is required of wildlife crime in general. Many patterns of illegal wildlife traders are similar to those of criminals dealing in drugs or contraband items. At the same time we also need to get a better understanding of market forces that drive commodity trade since in many countries wildlife products are treated as just another commodity. These trends mark a paradigm shift in the operation of local and global wildlife trade networks and require targeted and adequately resourced interventions for dismantling wildlife crime at a local, national, regional and global scale.”Question 2: What role can alternative livelihoods play in the fight against poaching?Rob Steinmetz, Conservation Biologist, WWF Thailand – “Assuming that poverty leads to poaching, then promoting alternative livelihoods should reduce poaching. But as pointed out above the first underlying assumption is often false in the first place. Further, alternative livelihoods can just as easily lead to an increase in poaching as to a decrease. There have been cases in Africa where people became wealthier as a result of alternative livelihood schemes, and this enabled them to more readily purchase weapons for their own poaching and to purchase meat from other poachers--and poaching was intensified.”Anupam Joshi, Senior Environmental Specialist, World Bank, India – “Although poaching is not driven by poverty but by strong demand coming from elsewhere, alternative livelihoods do have a place in the fight against poaching. Alternative livelihoods provided under the World Bank/GEF India Ecodevelopment Project resulted in a group of poachers completely giving up poaching at the Periyar Tiger Reserve in the State of Kerala in India. The former poachers are now grouped as an Ecodevelopment Committee (EDC) and organize day treks inside the parks for their livelihood. This EDC has been up and running for the last 12 years with positive results.” Show Less -
GEF Grant: US$ 9.59 million equivalentProject ID: P145621Project Description: The objective of the project is to preserve the globally-significant biodiversity of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor ... Show More +(MBC), a multinational effort to connect natural habitats from Mexico through Central America to Colombia. The GEF grant will complement funding from the government, municipalities and private sector to improve the management effectiveness of protected areas and the livelihoods of 48,450 Panamanians in rural and indigenous communities. Show Less -
WASHINGTON, February 10, 2015 - The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a US$9.59 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), aimed at preserving biodiversity in about 554... Show More +,000 hectares of the Atlantic and central-eastern regions of Panama. The GEF grant will complement funding from the Government, municipalities and private sector to improve the management effectiveness of protected areas and improve the livelihoods of 48,450 Panamanians in rural and indigenous communities.The Sustainable Production Systems and Conservation of Biodiversity Project, to be implemented by the National Environment Authority of Panama (ANAM) over five years, will advance safeguarding efforts in seven provinces, two indigenous people’s regions (“comarcas”) and two indigenous people’s territories. It will seek to preserve the resilience of regional ecosystems, and encourage sustainable harvesting and biodiversity-friendly practices among farmers and small producers.“Panama, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank have worked together to conserve the biodiversity of the Atlantic Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in Panama while improving the productivity of rural, indigenous and extremely poor communities since 1998,” said Dulcidio De La Guardia, Minister of Economy and Finance of Panama. “The new Project will further advance these conservation efforts and will involve not only the beneficiaries, but also local governments, organizations and networks, with transfer of environmental knowledge and new opportunities for income,” De La Guardia said.The US$29 million Project will be funded by the US$9.59 million grant from GEF; US$10.16 million from the Government of Panama; US$8.5 million from two private sector companies (US$2.5 million from AES-Changuinola and US$6 million from Minera Panama, through existing concession agreements with ANAM); US$90,000 from local municipalities and US$630,000 from local beneficiaries.“Preserving biodiversity is important at the global level, but biodiversity is also a significant local source of food, protection, health, recreation, and economic activities. So any negative impact on biodiversity is not only critical for natural species, but also for the people who live near the protected areas,” said Anabela Abreu, World Bank country manager for Panama. “The World Bank is committed to support the country’s efforts to preserve the environment, improve its people’s livelihoods and provide opportunities for all,” Abreu said.The project’s key goals include:Improving the management effectiveness of protected areas with alliances for participatory management (concessions and co-management) and biodiversity monitoring, while assuring the financial sustainability of the conservation efforts.Scaling up biodiversity-friendly production systems and increasing access for community-based organizations and small producers.Raising awareness about biodiversity-friendly products and the economic value of biodiversity; strengthening citizen engagement and capacities (including South-South exchanges), and the promotion of partnerships for the management of protected areas.Project activities will take place in the Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Colón, Chiriquí, Los Santos, Panama and Veraguas provinces; the Guna Yala and Ngäbe-Buglé comarcas; and the Bribri and Naso-Teribe territories, where a large number of the species of conservation concern are found.On the GEF and the World Bank GroupThe Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. Since 1991, when the World Bank Group helped to establish it, the GEF has provided $13.5 billion in grants and leveraged $65 billion in co-financing for 3,900 projects in 165 developing countries. For 23 years, developed and developing countries alike have provided these funds to support activities related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, and chemicals and waste in the context of development projects and programs. Show Less -