Amazon riparian zones need to be expanded to protect wildlife finds study
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
February 19, 2008
Strips of forest mandated by Brazilian law along rivers and streams in the Amazon rainforest are too narrow to effectively safeguard biodiversity, reports new research published in the journal Conservation Biology.
The study — the first to look at wildlife in remnant riparian tropical forest corridors — recommends expanding the current legal requirement for riparian buffers from 60 meters to 400 meters.
“There are proposals on the table to actually weaken the minimum legal requirements, when they need to be strengthened,” said the University of East Anglia’s Dr Carlos Peres, who together with Alexander Lees (also of the University of East Anglia), conducted the research.
“This is a huge wildlife conservation issue locally – with global implications in terms of biodiversity and climate change – and we would urge policy-makers to act on this important new research before it is too late.”
Peres and Lees say that wildlife corridors can help reduce the problems of habitat fragmentation, whereby communities of animals and plants are isolated in increasingly smaller patches of habitat. Forest fragments have been found to house lower levels of biodiversity than identically-sized areas of connected forest.
The research was conducted at 37 remnant and intact riparian forest sites near the town of Alta Floresta, in the state of Mato Grosso.