Loss of fauna in tropical forests impedes achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), researchers warn in late April 2021. A new publication from scientists at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS) in Sweden and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Germany explores the links between defaunation of tropical forests and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Defaunation is a quiet process currently unfolding in tropical forests. It refers not only to the loss of animal species diversity owing to regional or global extinctions, but also includes the circumstance that species are much less abundant and cannot fulfil their ecological roles when their numbers are small. Defaunation threatens critical ecological functions and jeopardises human well-being at different levels.
SDGs markedly affected by defaunation:
Defaunation needs to be given more attention in various areas of research, the researchers urge. The consequences of tropical defaunation being far-reaching, but uniquely complex – as the wild meat dilemma illustrates –, more interdisciplinary research is needed to fully understand the implications of the process. Holistic and location-based conservation approaches need to be designed in order to mitigate and reverse defaunation. Local socio-economic systems have to play an important role for the success of conservation strategies.
Defaunation has also been largely overlooked in forest conservation policies and needs to be directly addressed in forest governance strategies, stimulated, for example, by including fauna in forest-focused global climate finance. Last but not least, researchers emphasise that effective action to curb and control the commercial trade of tropical wildlife is a major cornerstone in tackling defaunation of forest ecosystems.
Read more at IZW website
Krause T, Tilker A (2021): How the loss of forest fauna undermines the achievement of the SDGs. Ambio. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-021-01547-5