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Virus effect on wildlife efforts

AUSTRALIA-WEATHER-FIRES

Dhaka, 1 July, 2020: The Covid-19 pandemichas spread to all corners of the globe,ravaging life, livelihoods, and the economy.As a result, most nations have implemented various levels of lockdown torestrictindustrial output, vehicular transport, and gatherings of people to ensure social distancing. The positive environmental consequences of this lockdown are conspicuous.

There is a marked improvement in worldwide air quality, animals are meandering to places they would not usually be seen, and the water in rivers has become cleaner.But haswildlife conservation been equally fortunate? Invariably, the lockdown and accompanying governmental decisions have had a seriousimpact on the socioeconomic conditions in many developing nations.

In India, particularly, migrant workers are amongst the worst hit. Over the past few months, there has been a mass exodus of migrant workers from metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore to parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Jharkhand. Given the restrictions on movement and the economic slump, it is unlikely that migrant workers will be able to join their previous jobs.

Amidst depleting finances and unemployment, these workers are likely to fall back on forest resources to augment their livelihood. As one can see from the accompanying illustration,wildlife conservation has multiple stakeholders: This trend is not limited to India. Reports suggest thatthere is a marked increase in deforestation in the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil, after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, there is a 50 per cent increase in the deforestation rate in the Brazilian Amazon during the first three months of 2020compared to the correspondingperiod of 2019. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, (UNWTO), global tourism has been seriously impacted due to the pandemic and millions of jobs have been lost in this industry.

As a result, in Africa, there isan increase in wildlife trafficking and bush-meat harvest linked to reduction in revenue from ecotourism. Likewise, the poaching of the critically endangered giant ibises in Cambodia has been linked to the collapse of local ecotourism. Closer home, in Bangladesh, theincome linked to ecotourism near the Sundarbans amounted to USD42,000 per annum (Rs 31.7 lakh).

One scholar suggests that a tiger poacher in the areacan offer a bribe equivalent toUSD 12,676 (Rs 9.63 lakh) and thismoney is easilyreimbursed through the sale of tiger parts. Thus, poaching and illegal extraction of forest resources can be a lucrative alternative to forest dwellers, in the absence of income from their regular trade and livelihood due to Covid-19.

The world economic order is under turmoil with a record reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to the Covid-19 lockdown.Research saysthat a mild Covid-19 scenario would result in a decline in GDP growth by 3 to 6 per cent, depending on the country. Nations dependent on the service sector and tourism-based economy would have the highest decline rates.

The European Union (EU) has stalled major climate change initiatives. The Czech Republic advocates a total abandonment of the EU’s climate change policies. Brazil’s federal environmental agency has also relaxed environmental laws including the ones that protect the Amazon rainforest. All these policies will necessarily impact conservation efforts worldwide.

Amidst all this, the promotion of alternative green livelihood schemes like organic farming, small scale aquaculture, traditional crafts, small business entrepreneurship through microfinance institutions and communitybased organizations canstrengthenthe vulnerable forest dweller’s resilience to the pandemic.

Promoting plantation activity in forest areas can also add up the carbon credit, which can be distributed to the local population through microfinancing institutions to fund the green alternative livelihood initiatives. This is the need of the hour.

If the economic burden on forestdependent people is not lessened through policy initiatives, we might end up causing irreparable damage to the wildlife on one hand, while trying to battle a pandemic on the other.

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Posted by on Jul 1 2020. Filed under News at Now, Wildlife. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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