Farming and Wildlife Protection

By Cynthia Kirk

This is the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

A new report says almost half of the world's seventeen-thousand wildlife protected areas are being heavily used for farming. The report says clearing and using land for agriculture are causing many kinds of plants and animals to disappear. It says farmers must use better farming methods that provide food while protecting wildlife.

The findings are part of a joint report by an agricultural organization called Future Harvest and the World Conservation Union. The World Conservation Union is a group of ten-thousand scientists that advises governments about wildlife.

Experts say ten percent of the land on Earth has been designed to protect wildlife. Yet these nature preserves often share common ground with farms in many poor countries. Many of these areas are where animal species are most at risk. Experts say many species in preserves are dying because of the agricultural areas that surround them.

This is because many animals need to move to other places to survive. The limited space in nature preserves cannot fill this need. The lands that would be needed to expand protected areas already are being used to grow food for local people and support local economies. Experts say half of the animal species in the preserves could be lost because their populations are too small to guarantee their survival.

More than one-thousand-million people live in twenty-five areas where the most endangered animals are found. Many people living in those areas do not have enough food. So the land is heavily used for agriculture.

Experts say traditional farming methods used by poor people have destroyed half the world's tropical forests. They say more than half of the remaining species in the world's forests might disappear in the next fifty years. They say this might happen if forest destruction continues at the present rates.

The World Conservation Union report says the traditional methods of protecting wildlife by trying to keep people out of nature preserves have failed. The report calls for larger harvests on existing cropland. It calls for less agricultural pollution. And it calls on farmers to create wildlife environments on or near their farms and link them with existing wildlife preserves.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by Cynthia Kirk.

Voice of America Special English