Human activity reshaping landscape to make it more productive “in many cases has supported high species richness and enriched biodiversity.”

The preservation of biodiversity has been a subject of universal interest in recent decades. We have seen how the emphasis placed on the effects of human activity as being responsible for the deterioration of ecosystems and failure to conserve the environment has greatly impacted and interested international public opinion, and preserving biodiversity by maintaining the primal wild condition of nature at all costs has been presented as ideal. Furthermore, the topic has been addressed in different areas: politics, governmental strategies, creation of international institutions, non-profit institutions, etc. It has been the subject of many campaigns and has been widely publicized by the media as a new trend of our hyper-developed societies.

In this respect, the Max Planck Society, perhaps one of the most qualified institutions in this area of research, says on the home page of its website that “The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field” (read HERE).  The Society’s Department of Archeology published data from a long study on current strategies of biodiversity supporters entitled Archaeological Data Demand New Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation (April 21, 2021)

The Max Planck Department of Archeology at Jena Germany is part of “an international initiative to examine the implications of past land use for contemporary conservation effects”. The multidisciplinary team reconstructed ancient population and land use from 12,000 years ago until now, concluding that humans had re-shaped much of the terrestrial biosphere.

Their data challenge the current idea of conservation guiding most of the aforementioned initiatives that defend biodiversity. Several of them argue that the land and biodiversity have been largely affected by human activity (read HERE).

Biodiversity conservation paradigm should change to an interaction between human activity and the preservation of biodiversity  and ecosystems

Contrary to this premise, long defended in recent years, the data provided by the prestigious aforementioned team has been analyzed by Professor Nicole Boivin, one of the research directors. She says “Much of the land area we regard today as ‘wild’ has in fact been shaped by millennia of human activity”. “But not all human activity is ‘bad.’ Our study found a close correlation between areas of high biodiversity and areas long occupied by Indigenous and traditional peoples”.

“But what is also clear is that in many cases they have supported high species richness and enriched biodiversity.”

‘Wild’ has in fact been shaped by millennia of                                     human activity

Contrary to this premise, long defended in recent years, the data provided by the aforementioned team has been analyzed by Professor Nicole Boivin, one of the research directors. She says “Much of the land area we regard today as ‘wild’ has in fact been shaped by millennia of human activity”. “But not all human activity is ‘bad.’ Our study found a close correlation between areas of high biodiversity and areas long occupied by Indigenous and traditional peoples”.


“But what is also clear is that in many cases they have supported high species richness and enriched biodiversity.”


Biodiversity conservation paradigm should change to an interaction between human activity and the preservation of biodiversity  and ecosystems

Biodiversity conservation paradigm should change to an interaction between human activity and the preservation of biodiversity  and ecosystems

Boivin continues, “Beginning thousands of years ago, human societies have long re-shaped landscapes through practices of burning, management, agriculture and plant and animal domestication. These activities have made landscapes more productive for human use. But what is also clear is that in many cases they have supported high species richness and enriched biodiversity”.

“The problem is not human use per se”

“The problem is not human use per se,” notes Professor Boivin. “The problem is the kind of land use we see in industrialized societies – characterized by unsustainable agricultural practices and unmitigated extraction and appropriation.”

The work has major implications for conservation practices. Thus, according to the article, “Rather than trying to return the land to an unattainable ‘pristine’ state, the authors demonstrate how many conservation efforts would achieve more by empowering traditional societies supporting local agriculture activities and community-based sustainable ecosystem management.”

 

 

 

 

 

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