Meaningless conservation status

Ineffective listing of protected natural areas
A six kilometre stretch of diverse coastal heathland near Aireys Inlet in Victoria is under threat of development despite being classed as an area of special scientific and scenic significance. A 1993 court verdict over the shooting by a Scottish farmer of Barnacle Geese, some of the UK's most protected birds, agreed that it was a valid defence of his crops. Now other farmers say they will apply for licences to shoot the birds, all 13,700 of which overwinter on the Solway coast saltmarshes.

Researchers at Brazil's National Research Institute for the Amazon in Manaus describes many of the officially protected areas in the country as "paper parks". In 1994 five national parks declared by the Brazilian government were de-listed, because the government had failed to live up to legal requirements to buy the land.

Britain's Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are poorly protected. Every year more than 300 are damaged in England and Wales alone. Official data shows that about 700 of Britain's SSSIs are threatened by road building and other developments, farming, pollution and many other damaging activities.

896 SSSIs (18.8%) have been damaged by 2,099 instances of damage (England and Wales 1991-1996).

400 SSSIs have been damaged by farming (England and Wales 1991-96).

72 SSSIs have been damaged by public bodies and statutory activities.

The number of threats to UK SSSI's (January 1998) include: Agriculture 120: Development 277: Energy (eg power station emissions) 143: Forestry 8: Landfill 11: Minerals & Peat (eg quarrying) 179: Mis-management 90: Recreation (eg 4 wheel driving) 90: Water (eg over-abstraction) 385: Miscellaneous 40: Total 1343.

1. "It is one thing to draw a line on a map marking off an area roughly the size of Israel and call it a national park, as the Brazilian government did nearly 15 years ago. It is another to manage the real-world tangle that occurs when nature gets embroiled with scientists and tourists, not to mention the one thousand or so people who call this rainforest home".
(F) Fuzzy exceptional problems