People in Nature: Wildlife Conservation in South and Central America

People in Nature: Wildlife Conservation in South and Central America

People in Nature: Wildlife Conservation in South and Central America

People in Nature: Wildlife Conservation in South and Central America


This book reviews wildlife management and conservation in Central and South America. The book discusses the threats to biodiversity in this area including habitat fragmentation, development, ranching, tourism as well as hunting. The book contains contributions from many local Latin American authors who work there daily and are exposed to the numerous and unique issues that need to be taken into account when talking about conservation in Central and South America.


JOSÉ M. V. Fragoso, Richard E. Bodmer, and Kirsten M. Silvius

The South and Central American context

South and Central American (including Mexico) approaches to wildlife conservation are rooted in traditions of resource use derived from interactions between complex biological, cultural, and socioeconomic systems. South and Central American peoples inhabit a land rich in biological diversity and complexity, with several nations considered megadiversity countries (e.g., Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador) (see Mittermeier, Robles-Gil, and Mittermeier 1997). the most extensive tropical forests and wetlands of our planet occur in South and Central America. Unlike the situation in many parts of the world, most of these ecosystems still function as intact ecological entities little disturbed by human activities (Mittermeier et al. 1998). the Amazon rain forest, for example, extends over 2500 km from east to west and about 2000 km from north to south. It is the largest continuous tropical forest on earth and the second largest forested ecosystem after the Eurasian Boreal forest. the world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal, is located in south central Brazil and northern Paraguay, and the Andean Mountain range supports some of the most extensive montane forests and grasslands in existence. With the exception of high altitude Andean habitats and Atlantic forests, these “natural areas” are relatively unfragmented and continue functioning as continental level “natural” ecosystems. Many are considered as some of our planet’s last great wilderness areas (Dinerstein et al. 1995; Mittermeier et al. 1998). the “intact” condition of South American biomes is unusual, given the high levels of species extirpations and ecosystem fragmentation that have occurred in North America, Europe, Africa, and much of the rest of the world.

The persistence of intact ecosystems in South America, and to a lesser degree in Central America, is to a large extent due to the region’s unique mixture of peoples . . .

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