3 Jan 2014

Yes to marine protected areas

I've read about using "marine protected areas" (MPAs) to protect ecosystems and improve economic productivity in non-protected areas, but my recent trip to the Galapagos Islands drilled those ideas far deeper into my head.*

Surfing iguanas? We got those!
MPAs are protected from human activity, to allow species to exploit as many ecological niches as possible.** Their interactions develop biodiversity in species that, combined, create an ecosystem that is greater than the sum of those parts.

More important (from the perspective of selfish humans), MPAs can produce enough surplus to sustain species in non-protected areas that would otherwise be wiped out (read about MPAs in Indonesia for a recent effort or the extinction of the passenger pigeon for an example of our failures).

Bottom Line: We need MPAs as insurance against our greed and ignorance. Set aside "no go zones" to let nature nurture the ecosystems that make life possible -- and worth living.

* Ecuador does a decent job, given its poverty

** For a sad view of how humans fail at this, consider dog breeding

1 comment:

JR said...

Very glad to see you’re learning a bit about ecology! J Healthy ecosystems not only have inherent, essential value for the species that rely on them, they’re also absolutely crucial for human well-being. Economists often fail to recognize that.

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