Protected forest cover key to improving biodiversity: Study

New York: Biodiversity in the forests may be recovering as a result of repeated efforts of environmental conservationists in protecting the forest areas, reveals a new study.

At a time when environmental concerns are taking centre stage, the study shows that protected areas play an important role in maintaining biodiversity.

“Our results suggest that tropical forest-protected areas are supporting stable communities of ground-dwelling mammals and birds, which is good news for conservation,” said lead author Lydia Beaudrot, assistant professor at the University of Michigan in the US.

The results are surprising because previous studies based on expert opinions have suggested that many tropical forest protected areas are failing, the researchers said.

The researchers monitored 244 species of ground-dwelling mammals and birds, including elephants, chimpanzees and deer.

Some 1,000 “camera traps” were placed and nearly 2.5 million pictures taken in the protected tropical forest areas in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America to study their movements. The parks appeared to be protecting the animals, the study, published in the scientific journal PLOS Biology, revealed.

Some 17 percent of the animals increased in number, while 22 percent remained constant and 22 percent decreased, the findings showed.

However, the researchers cautioned that wildlife losses could still be occurring in the protected areas that were studied.

Declines in numerous populations, and many other populations were not captured enough on camera to make an informative assessment, they observed.