Distinguished habitats and their characteristic wildlife populations, ecological dynamics and environmental conditions can be grouped into bio-geographic units termed 'eco regions'. Observing conservation issues at an eco regional level makes good sense for biological reasons, where wild populations, key sites, migration corridors, ecological processes and so on are conserved as a whole, and across the artificial barriers of political boundaries. Focusing conservation efforts on outstanding eco regions representative of all major habitat types is a strategy gaining widespread support. The TRAFFIC Network, in its ambitious new ten-year strategic plan, is working to support eco region conservation efforts and has selected this as one of its four main programme elements.
From TRAFFIC's point of view, working at this level links biodiversity conservation efforts with identifying and understanding threats to biodiversity, and working collaboratively towards multi-sector, long-term solutions that address human impacts, use, and sustainability.
Our main focus is researching and addressing wildlife trade that may threaten the integrity of priority eco regions of high biodiversity value or significance. This involves understanding wildlife trade processes acting on specific ecological landscapes, identifying the real threats and root causes to biodiversity loss; and promoting appropriate solutions to those who can make a difference.
They seek to encourage partnerships with governments, industry, conservation organisations and other stakeholders involved in eco region-based conservation efforts.
Their research provides baseline data on trade in wild resources/species in priority eco regions, and this helps assess and interpret levels of threat caused by wildlife trade to biodiversity in these eco regions.
Through our communications work we seek to increase awareness in government, industry and the general public concerning threats to biodiversity caused by wildlife trade. At the practical level, they are working to enhance the implementation of regulatory and other measures used to reduce these threats.
Trade is a good example where threats to eco regions are not necessarily coming from within the eco region itself. While local demand can have an impact on species populations and the environment, very often it is the demand from other places that is the real driving force. Such demand may be driven by urban markets in the same country or consumers in countries on the other side of the globe. Examples of this include demand for fisheries products, tropical timber, reptile skins, medicinal and decorative plants, and live animals for pets.
As a global Network, TRAFFIC is able to apply its expertise at all levels of the trade, involving both producers and consumers, wherever they may be - providing a unique perspective on what is today an effective conservation approach.