Large areas of tropical rainforests and important environmental areas could be set aside as protected parks. Farmers could be given financial assistance for setting aside arable land for wildlife habitats. More money and effort could be put into breeding programs and studies to restore numbers of endangered species. Tougher penalties for poaching and hunting could be introduced and enforced. A world ban on ivory in 1990 caused such a dramatic fall in the price of ivory that poaching is now no longer worthwhile and in some parts of Africa elephant poaching has virtually stopped. With similar commitment other endangered species could be saved.
In exchange for relief from payment of the World Debt countries could set up national parks. There could be comprehensive protection of all land deemed suitable for wildlife. There could be the creation of links between national parks for wildlife migrations. Roads could be built parallel to migration routes rather than across them.
The best way to conserve animals and plants is to protect their habitats in situ. The Ribbon-leaved Water-plaintain Alisma gramineum was saved when the importance of its last remaining habitat was stressed at a Public Inquiry in Britain. A complementary approach to this is the ex situ conservation of species or populations in gene banks, seed banks, botanic gardens and zoos. Ex situ is important in saving species or varieties from extinction. Many forms of wildlife, however, cannot exist only in protected sites: they roam too widely, or are thinly scattered throughout the land. A healthy countryside is the only hope for these.
The number and the type of protected species varies and the level of enforcement varies from country to country. Generally, any disturbance of their place of shelter and killing are offences. The list of species of animals and plants needing protection must be extended. The legal protection of species is only as good as its enforceability. So far this has proved to be inadequate. It is also up to each one of us to support conservation efforts. This can be achieved by keeping a watch over natural sites and by actively helping conservation groups.
There can be more national parks and ecologically important sites, called Sites of Special Scientific Interest - SSSI's - in the UK. Further sites can be added by governments and nature conservation agencies where significant gaps in representation are identified. Wetlands are in need of protection. The classification of an area as a park or SSSI does not guarantee protection from road building or destructive farming practices.
The poisoning of protected wildlife either deliberately or accidentally is a major problem. You can help stop illegal poisoning by pesticides and disturbances to wildlife by reporting them to your local Wildlife Department.
The protection of environments is best achieved by communities who depend on them. Locals usually know and understand their surroundings and often use them in traditional ways that have evolved over centuries. Look after the countryside and its wildlife, and respect laws designed to protect endangered species. Join a conservation group and help to restore habitats or survey species.