Why might the survival of wilderness regions depend upon international cooperation and agreement

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Why might the survival of wilderness regions depend upon international cooperation and agreement? Illustrate your answer with reference to a range of case studies.

Wilderness areas are often areas of extreme geographic and climatic conditions- very wet or cold, extremely hot or dry. They are places where colonisers have not wished to settle, and which are so remote and inaccessible that governments often have no authority. These areas have been left relatively untouched until recently, when improved technology and affluence in the industrialised world has made wilderness areas more accessible, so that they are increasingly sought after by resource developers. This has lead to conflicts between indigenous people, wilderness quality, and the resource developers.

         Unfortunately, these wilderness areas are often rich in valuable resources, which governments may be eager to exploit at the expense of the environment. The nature of their resources varies, from natural beauty and remoteness, to forest and mineral resources, land of strategic importance (such as northern Alaska) and land for economic development. Weak enforcement of natural resource laws is a major impediment to conservation efforts throughout the biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas. As valuable supplies of timber, fish and other natural resources diminish, the pressure increases on those resources that remain.


        One way of protecting wilderness areas is by defining them as National Parks. Some 5000 areas are protected globally as National Parks and reserves, covering 3 per cent of the Earth’s surface. This percentage will be doubled by the end of the next century if conservationists win support. In 2001, an international campaign was launched to support the efforts of the government of the Republic of Congo and its decision to expand the Odzala National Park to four times its original size. This unprecedented action, in a region generally known by its conflicts, was the result of strong political determination in favour of conservation. It helped secure the habitat of the world's largest concentration of western lowland species. Although countries can protect and conserve areas within their boundaries, it is becoming clear that national barriers around environmentally valuable lands or rich biological reserves are not the solution. Though they are a cornerstone of global conservation efforts, protected areas frequently suffer from insufficient resources and poor management. The Centre for Conservation and Government (CCG) is working with governments in both donor and developing nations and with international institutions to mobilize greater support.

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        Large-scale infrastructure investments—such as roads, dams, and pipelines—can threaten biodiversity and frequently fail to provide promised development benefits. The CCG seeks to change how the World Bank and other donors select such projects for financing through an approach that encourages a more rigorous and cooperative analysis of alternatives. The goal is to promote investments that deliver development more effectively with less biological disturbance. Governments are essential to conservation – whether through informed leadership, enlightened policies, or public funding. Yet they often face significant challenges in reconciling conservation with national development goals, financial constraints, and political realities. The United States has a ...

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