Browsing by Subject "protected areas"

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  • Amara, Edward; Adhikari, Hari; Heiskanen, Janne; Siljander, Mika; Munyao, Martha; Omondi, Patrick; Pellikka, Petri (2020)
    Savannahs provide valuable ecosystem services and contribute to continental and global carbon budgets. In addition, savannahs exhibit multiple land uses, e.g., wildlife conservation, pastoralism, and crop farming. Despite their importance, the effect of land use on woody aboveground biomass (AGB) in savannahs is understudied. Furthermore, fences used to reduce human-wildlife conflicts may affect AGB patterns. We assessed AGB densities and patterns, and the effect of land use and fences on AGB in a multi-use savannah landscape in southeastern Kenya. AGB was assessed with field survey and airborne laser scanning (ALS) data, and a land cover map was developed using Sentinel-2 satellite images in Google Earth Engine. The highest woody AGB was found in riverine forest in a conservation area and in bushland outside the conservation area. The highest mean AGB density occurred in the non-conservation area with mixed bushland and cropland (8.9 Mg center dot ha(-1)), while the lowest AGB density (2.6 Mg center dot ha(-1)) occurred in overgrazed grassland in the conservation area. The largest differences in AGB distributions were observed in the fenced boundaries between the conservation and other land-use types. Our results provide evidence that conservation and fences can create sharp AGB transitions and lead to reduced AGB stocks, which is a vital role of savannahs as part of carbon sequestration.
  • Voorsluis, Nina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Tiivistelmä – Referat – Abstract In this Master’s thesis I investigate Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) involvement, experiences and outcomes in Madagascar, including the limiting and enabling factors for impact of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The focal point of the research is the lived experiences from the field, including identification of processes and forces shaping the preconditions for NGO interventions. As part of the research I explore experiences of NGOs from their interventions and from engaging with local communities, government, policy makers and other NGOs in Madagascar. Many NGOs are active in biodiversity hotspots like Madagascar, but evaluation outcomes and lessons learned tend not to be extensively shared across organizations and thematic focus areas. This in turn affects preconditions to influence outcome determinants not only in isolated interventions but also across organizational borders. This study aims to define the situation and the issues faced by NGOs in Madagascar to suggest how the landscape could be navigated to improve the preconditions for long term intervention impact. The purpose is not to evaluate specific projects, but to assess the mechanisms through which the NGO sector can make a significant contribution to conservation, as well as the challenges in doing so. As the analysis seeks to broaden and contextualize the discussion of NGO involvement in conservation interventions, the theoretical framework for the research is based on theory on Non-Governmental Organizations and grounded theory. The theoretical framework facilitates the analysis of the findings, understanding of the results, as well as structuring and highlighting new insights. The theory is complemented with a background assessment of the environmental context in Madagascar, reviewing other research on conservation and its challenges in the country. This helps to understand the dimensions of the challenges, as well as the avenues open for exploration. Insights are gathered from representatives of long-term in situ NGOs to better understand the wider playing field in which they operate. The empirical research is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 representatives from 12 international and local NGOs working with biodiversity conservation in Madagascar. The data was transcribed and analyzed through thematic network analysis and constructivist grounded theory analysis. The interviews were combined with a literature review, a group interview, a field visit to a project site, and more informal conversations with academic researchers and experts in the field. As part of the study, a two-week field trip to Madagascar was undertaken. To present the findings from this research, thematic categorizations were used to illustrate factors that affect outcomes of conservation interventions driven by NGOs. The categories are related to internal organization specific factors, cooperation with other actors (including other NGOs, government and actors in the local communities), as well as the Malagasy environment and politics (including government, laws and policies). The findings reveal challenges especially with systematic coordination of NGO interventions, NGO evaluation practices, resources, as well as issues with implementing sustainable community involvement in project design and decision making. Local community involvement is considered important, but in practice is not fully scaled up and inclusive in terms of decision making and consistent involvement. Findings indicate that the cooperation between NGOs and their key stakeholders works reasonably well from the NGO perspective, but still has potential to be better utilized in order to improve long-term sustainability. Consideration of external constraints is important to assess the potential of different types of interventions and approaches, allowing NGOs to focus their efforts according to the context and their capacities. While acknowledging and navigating the diversity of viewpoints, it is essential to be aware of the impact of structural challenges, the political complexity and the often-conflicting interests between conservation, the commercial and extractive sector, as well as local livelihoods and practices. Findings indicate issues with policy implementation and harmonization, and with conservation prioritization and law enforcement by the government. Local and national ownership and leadership backing is seen as essential for biodiversity conservation, pushing for stronger leadership from within the society. My research provides insights, recommendations and conclusions from which NGOs and conservation actors can gain better understanding of factors impacting interventions, as well as on the Malagasy playing field and its dynamics. This can be helpful in order to capitalize on opportunities and counter challenges, focusing actions on areas that make a difference. The findings can also be of value to other biodiversity conservation researchers, funding agencies, associations, communities and government stakeholders specifically focused on Madagascar. The research may also benefit NGOs and conservation actors involved in other countries, which confront similar challenges concerning conservation, governance, NGO involvement and interventions.
  • Virkkala, Raimo; Aalto, Juha; Heikkinen, Risto; Rajasärkkä, Ari; Kuusela, Saija; Leikola, Niko; Luoto, Miska (2020)
    Increased attention is being paid to the ecological drivers and conservation measures which could mitigate climate change-induced pressures for species survival, potentially helping populations to remain in their present-day locations longer. One important buffering mechanism against climate change may be provided by the heterogeneity in topography and consequent local climate conditions. However, the buffering capacity of this topoclimate has so far been insufficiently studied based on empirical survey data across multiple sites and species. Here, we studied whether the fine-grained air temperature variation of protected areas (PAs) affects the population changes of declining northern forest bird species. Importantly to our study, in PAs harmful land use, such as logging, is not allowed, enabling the detection of the effects of temperature buffering, even at relatively moderate levels of topographic variation. Our survey data from 129 PAs located in the boreal zone in Finland show that the density of northern forest species was higher in topographically heterogeneous PAs than in topographically more homogeneous PAs. Moreover, local temperature variation had a significant effect on the density change of northern forest birds from 1981-1999 to 2000-2017, indicating that change in bird density was generally smaller in PAs with higher topographic variation. Thus, we found a clear buffering effect stemming from the local temperature variation of PAs in the population trends of northern forest birds.
  • Hakkila, Matti; Abrego, Nerea; Ovaskainen, Otso; Monkkonen, Mikko (2018)
    Protected areas are meant to preserve native local communities within their boundaries, but they are not independent from their surroundings. Impoverished habitat quality in the matrix might influence the species composition within the protected areas through biotic homogenization. The aim of this study was to determine the impacts of matrix quality on species richness and trait composition of bird communities from the Finnish reserve area network and whether the communities are being subject of biotic homogenization due to the lowered quality of the landscape matrix. We used joint species distribution modeling to study how characteristics of the Finnish forest reserves and the quality of their surrounding matrix alter species and trait compositions of forest birds. The proportion of old forest within the reserves was the main factor in explaining the bird community composition, and the bird communities within the reserves did not strongly depend on the quality of the matrix. Yet, in line with the homogenization theory, the beta-diversity within reserves embedded in low-quality matrix was lower than that in high-quality matrix, and the average abundance of regionally abundant species was higher. Influence of habitat quality on bird community composition was largely explained by the species' functional traits. Most importantly, the community specialization index was low, and average body size was high in areas with low proportion of old forest. We conclude that for conserving local bird communities in northern Finnish protected forests, it is currently more important to improve or maintain habitat quality within the reserves than in the surrounding matrix. Nevertheless, we found signals of bird community homogenization, and thus, activities that decrease the quality of the matrix are a threat for bird communities.
  • Nirhamo, Aleksi; Pykälä, Juha; Halme, Panu; Komonen, Atte (Wiley, 2021)
    Applied Vegetation Science 24: 2
    Questions: Aspen (Populus tremula) is declining in the old-growth forests of boreal Fennoscandia. This threatens the numerous taxa that are dependent on old aspens, including many epiphytic lichens. Potential methods to aid epiphytic lichens on aspen are centered around treatments which affect the density of Norway spruce (Picea abies). In this study, we investigated how epiphytic lichen communities on aspen are affected by the variation of spruce density in the immediate vicinity of the focal aspen. Location: Southern boreal forests in Finland. Methods: We recorded the occurrence of lichens from 120 aspens in 12 semi-natural forest sites. We used spruce basal area as the measure for spruce density. The selected aspens represented a gradient in spruce basal area in the vicinity of the aspen from 0 to 36 m2/ha. We also measured other tree- and stand-level variables that are known to influence lichen occurrence. Results: Lichen communities on aspen were affected by spruce density, stand age and bark pH. Both lichen species richness and the richness of red-listed species were highest at an intermediate spruce density, and both increased with stand age. Lichen species richness was higher when bark pH was lower. Additionally, community composition was influenced the most by spruce density, followed by bark pH. Conclusions: Our study highlights the detrimental effects of high spruce density on lichen diversity on aspens. This is caused by high spruce density resulting in low light availability. Lichen diversity on aspens was highest when spruce density was intermediate. Spruce thinning in aspen-rich old-growth forests can be helpful in ensuring the long-term persistence of old-growth lichens on aspen in protected forests.
  • Saalismaa, Nina (Helsingfors universitet, 2000)
    The study analyses the needs and expectations of different people and different interest groups affected by conservation schemes, and examines the possibilities of taking the local opinions into account in the management of protected areas. Theoretically, the study relies on those approaches that aim to link the issues of nature protection with the questions of social sustainability and the livelihood requirements of local people. The study explains how the concept of protected areas has changed during the history and how the discourses on protected areas are linked to North-South issues. Protected areas management was long based on the concepts of strict protection developed in the first protected areas. The amount of protected areas in the world has increased significantly during the past decades. Together with population growth this has led into a situation where the majority of protected areas are inhabited by humans. Consequently, the participation and rights of local people have become important topics in protected areas discourse. The issue is studied in detail through a case study of Miraflor protected area in Nicaragua. The study describes how the protection scheme of this particular area has been constructed and how the local attitudes toward protection have evolved from past to present. The research sets the case of Miraflor into the broader context of conservation and sustainability, in order to make suggestions on management in inhabited protected areas. The case study in based on qualitative research methods, such as thematic interviews, participant observation and written documentation. There are almost 5000 inhabitants in Miraflor, and the area is into a large extent under agricultural use. Land in Miraflor is in the hands of private landowners, as it is in most of the other protected areas in Nicaragua. The difficult economical and social situation of small-scale landowners and landless people has left them little choice between nature conservation and livelihood. While institutional attention to the zone has increased more local people have started to be in favour of the protection of the area. However, they expect support from the state and other institutions in bearing the costs of protection. Some of the important reasons for the acceptance of protection lie in the potential benefits associated to protection, such as new rural development projects, employment possibilities and tax exemptions. The protection of inhabited protected areas cannot be achieved with mere restrictions. Instead, local people have to be offered feasible and attractive possibilities to change their natural resource use practices so that both human needs and nature conservation objectives are fulfilled.
  • Virkkala, Raimo; Pöyry, Juha; Heikkinen, Risto K.; Lehikoinen, Aleksi; Valkama, Jari (2014)
  • Rokkanen, Susanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Biodiversity is declining across the globe. The IUCN Red List, which is often used to measure species’ risk to go extinct, is showing alarming biodiversity declines both globally and within Finland. The most commonly used tool for biodiversity conservation is the establishment of protected areas. The Conference of Parties (COP) of the international treaty for biodiversity conservation (The Convention on Biological Diversity), has set a target to expand the international protected area network to cover 17% of the terrestrial area of the world. However, the designation of protected areas carries costs in terms of both land-use and money. Relatively little is known about what protected areas can achieve at the species level, and only limited evidence exists that links the establishment of protected areas to an improved conservation status of species. The lack of knowledge is because protected area establishment and its effects are often hard to study due to inadequate data. In this thesis, I created a framework to study the link between the increase in protected areas and protected area investment in relation to the conservation status change of one taxonomic group, the breeding birds in Finland. I first investigated the general trend in conservation status of Finnish birds using the Red List Index 2015. I then studied the effect of increasing the protected area on Finnish bird species’ range and the monetary investment on protected areas on bird species’ range in comparison to change in their IUCN Red List assessments. The timeframe of the study was 1996-2010 for protected area establishment and 2010-2015 for bird species’ conservation status change. My results show that the conservation status of birds in Finland is considerably worse than before, with Red List Index being 0.779. This is approximately 9.2% decline from the Red List Index in 2010. The species that gained more protected area on their range during 1996-2010 did not fare better in terms of conservation status than the birds that gained less protected area on their range on the same period. This is possibly because the threshold where the protected areas would cover the species’ range sufficiently to enable the conservation of the whole population is still not reached even for species with the higher protection levels. Also, the species that had higher estimated monetary investment on the protected areas on their range did not acquire better conservation status development than the species on whose range there was less estimated monetary investment. The expansion of the Finnish protected area network in 1996-2010 did not help to change the negative trend of Finnish birds in 2010-2015. The species that gained more protection in terms of land or monetary investment during this period, were not showing better results than the species that gained less protection. These results hint that the protected areas in Finland are not effective in terms of bird conservation. This does not mean, however, that we can claim that they are ineffective in all aspects, as we don’t know what would have been the situation if there were no protected areas established at all. There are also several other factors that affect the conservation status development of birds in Finland. These include degradation of matrix habitats, hunting and climate change, which might all overrun the possible positive effects of the protected areas and protected area investment.