“Solutions that balance conservation and sustainable use are critical – and possible.”
In a recent publication, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) highlighted the importance of sustainable use in forest governance.
They referenced the North American Model for wildlife conservation as a successful example of the sustainable use of wildlife resources in practice, with a case study provided by the President of Conservation Visions, and Deputy President of the CIC’s Policy and Law Division, Shane Mahoney.
The publication in question is the 2020 edition of The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO), in which FAO and UNEP give a summary on the prevailing state of global state forest biodiversity and its importance for humanity.
As part of this year’s edition, they looked at the effectiveness of policies and actions for conservation and sustainable development, which was shown through the use of case studies that demonstrated “innovative practices and win-win solutions.”
One such case study was an overview of the North American model of wildlife conservation, shown as an example of how forest biodiversity can be conserved through the sustainable use of natural resources, which is credited as being a necessary tool in forest governance.
It is stated that the creation of protected areas is not sufficient as a means of conservation by itself, as they are often too small and hold only a small percentage of total forest biodiversity.
The publication suggests that “solutions that balance conservation and sustainable use are critical – and possible.” It stresses the importance of governance approaches that integrate socio-economic development goals, support sustainable resource use and devolve forest management to local people. In doing so, this facilitates the maintenance of resources that people use and value, as well as those that support broader societal needs.
The North American model text, entitled “Incentivizing wildlife conservation in North America,” demonstrates how state level policy can incorporate sustainable use, while combining the interests of conservation and those of stakeholders.
It details how many species in the United States of America and Canada were either endangered or at risk of extinction by the late nineteenth century, despite relatively abundant wildlife numbers prior to the arrival of European settlers.
This was due to commercial exploitation, and a general lack of consideration for the concept of sustainability in the social consciousness.
The extinction crisis that North America was faced with paved the way for a “resource-use philosophy based on citizen responsibility and natural limits.” This eventually became a set principles which is now known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
The use of this model has led to a significant recovery in wildlife populations, with recoveries also being seen in non-harvested species.
Species that saw significant benefits are the wild turkey and white tailed deer. These recoveries would not have been possible without the introduction of the North American Model, which helped fund a number of conservation efforts, including the use of transplantation and habitat management.
The CIC would like to support FAO and UNEP for recognising the importance sustainable use in forest governance, with a special mention to S.Mahoney and Conservation Visions for their contributions to this publication.