Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Toolbox

Wildlife Management

This module is intended for forest managers and landowners involved in wildlife management. It outlines the purpose of wildlife management and describes some of the ecological processes, social imperatives and ownership models that underpin sustainable wildlife management.

Wildlife management contributes to SDGs:

Wildlife is a renewable resource that generates many environmental services. It plays a key role in regulating natural processes at all levels of the food chain and delivers “provisioning” services (such as those that produce food and income) to a substantial proportion of the world’s people. Wildlife typically provides cultural services, too, forming the basis of many traditions.

Wildlife management is the management or stewardship of wildlife resources by humans; it addresses game and non-game animals (that are potentially threatened) and their habitats. When people think about wildlife they tend to think about birds and mammals, but numerous other animal taxa, such as reptiles, amphibians and insects, are also subject to use by humans. Wildlife populations are managed for several reasons, such as to: control overabundance (and thereby mitigate human–wildlife conflicts); avoid over-harvesting; restore ecological processes (e.g. species’ reintroductions); and maintain populations at levels compatible with the sustained yield of products such as food, trophies and furs.

Wildlife may be subject to a wide range of uses, which can be classified broadly according to whether wildlife is removed from its habitat. Extractive (or consumptive) use generally involves reductions in wildlife populations by killing (e.g. hunting), whereas non-extractive (or non-consumptive) use implies no intrusive action on the wildlife population (e.g. wildlife photography).

The ability of many wildlife species to move freely over large areas can complicate their ownership and management. In differing social, political and legal circumstances, wildlife may be a public good, communally owned, government-owned or privately owned. Wildlife management may involve widely varying spatial scales, according to the biology and movement of particular species. It therefore often requires compromises between the interests and needs of different stakeholders, such as forest owners, farmers, hunters and tourists.

Sustainable wildlife management requires appropriate policies, social acceptability and good governance. It can be best achieved through the generation of benefits locally, which may include income (e.g. through commercial harvesting), subsistence (e.g. wild-meat consumption) and "satisfaction" (e.g. gained through recreation). In the right social and legal setting, local stakeholders with appropriate rights to benefit from wildlife can be excellent wildlife managers.