Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

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Kees
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Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Kees » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:24 pm

A few days ago I found a publication on the recent discovery of Melocactus sergipensis. It describes the danger of its extinction that apparently is in the hands of one farmer in whose maize fields there are a few rocky outcrops where the cacti grow. Satellite pictures of the site show a few relatively small rocky outcrops amidst maize fields where the cacti grow. There are worries the farmer will destroy the site.

Being the devil's advocate I can understand the farmer's point of view. After clearing and leveling the rocky outcrops he would be able to grow more maize and move his ploughing, sowing and harvesting machines more efficiently from one field to another. I don't think a lot of money is involved with this increased efficiency of his business.

Wouldn't it be possible to pay him a compensation every year to leave the rocky outcrops as they are? Are there any funds for that?
Here in the Netherlands we pay farmers for working more bird-friendly to protect ground-nesting birds.

Any thoughts?
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Aiko
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Aiko » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:30 pm

I believe the Haworthia Society has fenced the locality of a Haworthia (Haworthia magnifica?). Probably in friendly relations with the land owner.
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Kees
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Kees » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:53 pm

That's the sort of thing I have in mind.
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D^L
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by D^L » Sun Dec 02, 2018 2:35 pm

I think this is a good point and something that the conservation committee ought to look at, not sure if any of them are on here, or indeed if they already do look at it?
I think we should do something, though there are associated concerns with all of these strategies.
- It only lasts as long as we fund it,
- it depends on maintaining any structure, whether that be physical or even just the agreement and understanding and
- it depends on the farmer actually conserving, rather than taking the money and raising it anyway. As you say these people are often struggling to maintain their family, I doubt I'd put the safety of a cactus population in front of that.
- In principle it alerts unscrupulous collectors to the site, though, while this is a risk, I think that covering it in maize is a more pressing risk.
One of the other things that I think has been done is education/encouragement of the local community to value the plants for their global uniqueness. Getting the people there keen to protect it is better than someone 2000 miles and at least one culture away doing so.
Not even sure I know who is in the conservation committee these days
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Kees
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Kees » Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:34 pm

Brazil is not a country with a good reputation when it comes to nature conversation so you have to rely on the local landowners' goodwill. If you pay them a fair compensation for their efforts every year that is the best you have. You can go there and check every year whether or not they have looked after the ecosystem. The coordinates of the holotype are available online unfortunately so every collector can go there and take their pick.

In this case we are not up against a multi-billion mining or oil company.
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by ralphrmartin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:26 pm

The problem with such schemes is that you have to pay for ever, and that the landowner is agreeable for ever. These are simply impractical for many different kinds of reasons:
- one day the BCSS may cease to exist, or be unable to afford to pay
- to guard against this, money can be put into a trust to generate a sufficient annual income (requiring large endowments), but even then, investments may fail
- you cannot draw up a contract which lasts forever, and anyway, one day ownership of the land will change, even if to pass to the next generation
- the landowner may choose to no longer honour the contract
- infrastructure development / road development may take the land
- wars may destroy the area
- climate change may render the location no longer suitable

In view of these and other similar reasons, it seems to me the only realistic solution for long-term success is off-site conservation, by propagation of the plant and spreading it around. Unfortunately, this is contrary to current stances of many countries which prohibit collection of plant material from the wild, even if they lack the financial or other resources to organise appropriate official schemes. While current treaties suggest that each country should be free to exploit its own bioresources, in practice, countries by and large do little to protect them, certainly on a local scale, or at a species level, never mind exploit them in a sustainable way. Yet exploiting them in a sustainable way could be the best route to conservation for very restricted species such as these.
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by ragamala » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:06 pm

Kees wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 5:34 pm
Brazil is not a country with a good reputation when it comes to nature conversation

Frankly, worrying about one single species in one specific location in the face of a global challenge can be seen as a negative waste of energy. Joining the fight in the UK against damaging government policies which will exacerbate climate change will be a better use of time and energy.


https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/brazi ... marxist-id

https://nypost.com/2018/11/29/brazil-ba ... ge-summit/
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Kees
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Kees » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:25 pm

I agree with many of Ralph Martin's arguments.

However: compensating those that suffer from the negative consequences of conservation will help to create support and acceptance of the local people.
Ex situ conservation has a many drawbacks. To name a few: inbreeding, discontinuation of the in situ forces of the survival of the fittest creating weaker specimens, turning a wild plant into a garden or house plant or a museum piece.
A rare species is often part of a rare ecosystem. By protecting a rare species you protect an entire ecosystem that may contain other, still unknown, species.

My opening post was a cri de coeur. If the experts feel that wait and see is the best thing to do: so be it.
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Kees
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by Kees » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:58 pm

ragamala wrote:
Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:06 pm
Frankly, worrying about one single species in one specific location in the face of a global challenge can be seen as a negative waste of energy. Joining the fight in the UK against damaging government policies which will exacerbate climate change will be a better use of time and energy.


https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/brazi ... marxist-id

https://nypost.com/2018/11/29/brazil-ba ... ge-summit/

Mankind is busy destroying its own ecosystem. It is not only plants and animals that suffer. Just look at the impact of climate change on especially the people of the third world.

We are living in the Anthropocene, an era characterized by man's strong influence on evolution and geology. Anthropocene's mass extinctions aren't unique in the history of the earth. Whether we like it or not, our presence on earth was created by the forces of evolution. And we are changing the direction of evolution and create mass extinctions. Nothing new here. Dinosaurs also changed the face of the earth. We all know what happened to the dinosaurs. And no, their mass extinction was not entirely due to a comet hitting the earth or increased volcanic activity as many other species did survive the dinosaurs.

So yes, maybe we should let it happen, accept that species disappear and fill our botanical and zoological gardens like museums with species that we don't allow a place in their original habitat.
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Re: Protection of species known of 1 or a few small sites

Post by ralphrmartin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 8:04 pm

In turn, I agree with Kees' very valid counterarguments, and his point that we should try to get the locals to somehow take an interest or responsibility for their local flora. Ultimately, multiple approaches are more likely to succeed where a single one fails.

However, if you make payments, the question is `Where will the money come from'? Once you start subsidising some farmers, and word gets out, you are leaving yourself open to demands from other farmers. If you don't pay them too, the net result might be counterproductive, if it leads them to see the plants as a liability (if their activities are constrained without compensation) rather than an asset. Unless you have the resources of a government, you are unlikely to be able to subsidise all farmers with interesting plants.

One way to get the locals interest would be to get them to propagate the plants for sale, from seed, or perhaps cuttings. Unfortunately current rules don't permit this. I certainly dont think that wait and see is best - for some species it will be too late. I think the BCSS, along with all other horticultural organisations, and not just in the UK, should be lobbying their governments to replace the current rules, both nationally and internationally, to something that is actually in the interest of preserving the flora, rather than notionally allowing each nation to exploit it, but in practice in most cases results in very little action to save the flora from human development.
Ralph Martin
http://www.rrm.me.uk/Cacti/cacti.html

Members visiting the Llyn Peninsula are welcome to come and see my collection.

My Field Number Database is now hosted by the BCSS: see
http://www.fieldnos.bcss.org.uk
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