Nature conservation has been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus and related restrictions, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, said on Thursday, a year to the day since the outbreak was declared a pandemic.
While pandemic responses “temporarily slowed down human impacts upon nature,” the IUCN said.
IUCN said restrictions such as stay-home lockdowns and widespread travel curbs led to “conservation work job losses among protected area rangers reduced anti-poaching patrols, and environmental protection rollbacks’’.
Over the past year, according to the IUCN, “protected and conserved area operations were scaled down or suspended, visitor facilities closed, workplaces shut, many staff withdrew from duty stations and supply chains disrupted.’’
Over half of Africa’s protected areas were forced to halt or reduce field patrols and anti-poaching operations as well as conservation education and outreach, according to IUCN surveys.
Conservation workers in a quarter of Asia’s protected areas reported similar effects. One IUCN survey showed 25 per cent of park rangers seeing their salaries reduced or delayed since the start of the pandemic, which the union said was caused by man’s abuse of nature.
Most accounts suggest that the virus originated from a wet market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2020. Wild animals were often sold in such markets, likely upping the risk of animal-human virus or disease transmission.
“Unregulated wildlife trade and wild meat consumption make it possible for zoonotic diseases to emerge – jumping from wildlife or domesticated livestock into human populations’’, the IUCN warned.
It said that better conservation could prevent the future emergence of zoonotic pathogens such as coronaviruses.