Conservation in South America: Problems, Consequences, and Solutions

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Science  15 Aug 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4765, pp. 734-739
DOI: 10.1126/science.233.4765.734


Lack of solid data on rates of habitat conversion and on the basic biology of Neotropical organisms makes predictions of massive waves of extinction in South America premature. South America's problems regarding the use of natural resources are a result of historical, sociological, economic, and scientific factors. Most countries in South America have done a great deal to encourage conservation efforts, but the magnitude of the problem is well beyond their limited economic means to solve. The problems of species disappearance in South America are of global importance. A successful solution will involve a coordinated and massive effort of governments and specialists in all aspects of conservation biology from throughout the world. There is still time to resolve these problems. Unnecessarily dire predictions of species extinction may be counterproductive to the development of a long-term conservation strategy that is needed to manage Neotropical conservation problems.