- Biological field stations are critical to conservation research and rewilding efforts, yet they’re often overlooked in discussions of global environmental policy.
- Beside their visibility problem, reduced funding is a major challenge for most research stations, yet their impact has been measurable in places such as southwestern Peru and in Costa Rica.
- Joining the Mongabay Newscast to discuss the importance of field research stations — and the conservation successes they’ve fostered in nations like Costa Rica — is wildlife ecologist and director of Osa Conservation, Andrew Whitworth.
- “With the climate and biodiversity crises, we need field stations more than ever, yet they’re often under threat of being closed,” Whitworth says in calling for greater philanthropic support for this global network of research hubs.
Costa Rica went from having one of the highest rates of deforestation in the 1980s to becoming the first nation to reverse tropical deforestation. While numerous factors led to this achievement, one underappreciated aspect of its conservation success lies in the ability of field research stations to carefully monitor and study progress, says Andrew Whitworth, director of the NGO Osa Conservation.
Researchers argued in a paper published in Nature last year that research stations are necessary to hitting global biodiversity targets, yet are being overlooked in policy discussions. Whitworth joins the Mongabay Newscast to shares his thoughts on the value of field research stations and why they’re needed now more than ever.
According to Whitworth, this is ironic because there’s more conservation funding available today, but it mostly doesn’t benefit research stations. “[There’s] probably more money than there’s ever been to invest in nature conservation,” but “the focus is new national parks, new hectares, to try and get things established, but there’s very little investment in the long-term protection of protected areas,” which is often supported by ongoing research, he says.
- Camera trap study shows conservation efforts ‘are working’ on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula: Video
- Long-term ecological research threatened by short-term thinking
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Banner image: A field biologist with Osa Conservation releasing a king vulture that the team has just tagged with a solar-powered GSM unit. These are some of the first tagged king vultures in the world – a part of the conservation science focus of the research that will help to understand the health of the ecosystem of the Osa Peninsuala and ultimately how healthy this system is for key apex species like king vultures. Photo by Luca Eberle for Osa Conservation
Eppley, T. M., Reuter, K. E., Sefczek, T. M., Tinsman, J., Wright, P. C., & Mittermeier, R. A. (2022). Field research stations are key to global conservation targets. Nature, 612(7938), 33-33. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-04136-y
Schubel, J. R. (2015). Some thoughts on keeping Field stations and marine labs afloat in turbulent times. BioScience, 65(5), 458-459. doi:10.1093/biosci/biv034
Baker, B. (2015). The way forward for biological Field stations. BioScience, 65(2), 123-129. doi:10.1093/biosci/biu210