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Manage wildlife trade for better development outcomes


Well-managed wildlife trade has the potential to be even more of a key development tool for the world’s poor, finds a new report by the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, and WWF.

Trading Nature: the contribution of wildlife trade management to sustainable livelihoods and the Millennium Development Goals shows that a key development advantage of wildlife trade is the opportunities it offers to the very poor and the level of involvement by local communities. But many of the benefits are threatened when illegal trade is allowed to flourish.

Excluding the products of the commercial timber and fisheries industries, the wildlife products covered in the report include medicines, food, clothing, ornaments, furnishings, pets, ornamental plants, zoological and botanical display, research, manufacturing and construction materials. As well as contributing to the incomes of the poor, many also contribute directly to their housing, health and other needs.

The report finds that well-managed, legal and sustainable trade can have a significant impact on all eight of the Millennium Development Goals, the globally agreed roadmap which lay out targets in development assistance and poverty reduction.

“Trade in wildlife products can have a significant economic impact on people’s livelihoods, childhood education, and the role of women in developing countries, provided it is legal, well-managed and sustainable,” said Dr Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF International’s Species Programme.

Wildlife trade can make a direct major contribution to primary healthcare too—the subject of three MDGs—through the significant trade in wildlife-based medicines of both plant and animal origin. Underpinning the sustainable management of wildlife trade is good governance, the key to MDG 8.

Trading Nature examines a series of case studies. For example, Uganda’s lake fisheries produce fish worth over US$200 million a year, employ 135,000 fishers and 700,000 small-scale operators in processing trade and associated industries. It also generates US$87.5 million in export earnings.

Analysis of the wild meat trade reveals estimates of contributions of up to 34% of household income in East and Southern Africa. Wild meat is also providing both an affordable source of animal protein and a livelihood opportunity for men as hunters and women as traders.

The report studies the effects of the trade in peccary and caiman skins and vicuña wool in Latin America. The caiman skin trade generates a low income for ranchers compared to cattle, but it can be significant for the poor and landless with few other income-generating opportunities.

The report suggests incentives for the conservation and security of natural resources upon which many livelihoods depend. The legal, international trade in wild plants and animals and the products derived from them was estimated as worth close to US$300 billion in 2005, based on declared import values—and the value is rising.

“Without good governance, none of the other MDGs are truly attainable,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.

“We call on governments to pay greater attention to resource access issues, and to develop innovative approaches to address unsustainable harvesting of the most commercially valuable wildlife commodities.”


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