Why doesn't biodiversity monitoring support conservation priorities in the tropics?

Douglas Sheil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Biodiversity monitoring activities can hinder rather than promote conservation in tropical countries. The national institutions responsible for conservation in developing countries have very limited resources, which gives donors and richer agencies scope for considerable influence. However, those nominally concerned with supporting conservation often overlook the practicalities. As a result, many initiatives divert scarce resources away from fundamental management priorities. Good management demands clear and achievable goals. From a local perspective, there is generally little difficulty in identifying threats to biodiversity - predominantly habitat loss (particularly the loss of natural forest cover), encroachment, unregulated exploitation and various forms of environmental degradation. Most national conservation plans provide clear priorities, such as maintaining natural vegetation cover, preventing conversion of protected areas to other land uses and protecting high-profile taxa. These are priority goals that need to be supported both locally and nationally. This article addresses the importance of various types of biodiversity monitoring, suggests practical biodiversity conservation priorities and indicates how external agencies can deflect local management from addressing these. The article is an elaboration of opinions published recently (Sheil, 2001), based mainly on the author's personal experiences in Africa and Southeast Asia. One vital step to addressing the problem is a frank discussion of how conservation goals should be supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-54
Number of pages5
Issue number209
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

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