Response to Burke. Conserving tropical biodiversity: the arid end of the scale
Trends in Ecology and Evolution
I thank Antje Burke for making a valid and important point that terrestrial ecosystems in the tropics range from deserts to rainforests, and that land-use options (sustainable or otherwise) increase along an arid–humid gradient . When a local community weighs up the immediate benefits of conservation against the costs of foregoing alternative land uses, the net result becomes an increasingly large opportunity cost as primary productivity increases towards the humid end of the gradient. It is not surprising, therefore, that lucrative logging operations are destroying rainforests even in ostensibly ‘protected’ areas, such as Indonesian Borneo . Local communities cannot bear the opportunity costs of conserving such areas, and I entirely agree with Burke that globally funded conservation interventions are most urgently needed in the humid tropics.
du Toit, J.T. 2004. Response to Burke. Conserving tropical biodiversity: the arid end of the scale. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19(5):226