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Sustainable Wildlife Management

Since 1970, the sizes of wild animal populations have seen an alarming average drop of 68 percent (WWF 2020). This massive decline is due to habitat loss, over-exploitation by humans, invasive species, pollution, and climate change. At the same time, millions of people around the world still depend on wildlife for their daily food, cultural identity and livelihoods.

Sustainable wildlife management is defined as “the sound management of wildlife species to sustain their populations and habitats over time, taking into account the socioeconomic needs of human populations.”

FAO provides countries with the technical and policy support to achieve, in particular, SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and SDG 15 (Life on Land), which includes – amongst others - halting biodiversity loss and preventing human-wildlife conflicts. FAO is also working with countries to strengthen institutional and legal frameworks, safeguard indigenous peoples and build capacities to achieve sustainable wildlife management.

Key policy messages

·        Food and nutritional security. Many rural communities depend on wildlife for food and income. Wild meat provides more than 50% of protein intake in some tropical and subtropical regions. FAO encourages a transition to more sustainable levels of hunting and fishing and less unsustainable wildlife consumptive uses in urban areas. To do this, FAO combines traditional knowledge and the latest technologies to develop inclusive policies, income-generating opportunities and sustainably produced meat products and farmed fish.

·        One Health approach. The majority (71.8%) of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases originate in wildlife (Jones et al 2008). Health security and sustainable development solutions need to address the specific drivers of diseases. FAO advocates a One Health approach, which ensures that specialists in multiple sectors, including from forestry and wildlife, work together to tackle health threats to animals, humans, plants, and the environment. Ensuring the One Health approach is essential for progress to prevent, detect and control diseases that spread between animals and humans.

·        Co-existence between wild animals and humans. Conflicts between humans and wildlife increase as human populations expand and encroach on wildlife habitats. The conflicts threaten the survival of several wildlife species that are critical for the livelihoods of many communities. To improve food security and the health of rural populations FAO assists countries to prevent and reduce human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) and promotes co-existence, through an in-depth assessment of the root causes of HWC, which considers the political, social, cultural aspects of the affected communities.

·        Governance and effective wildlife management. Legal and institutional frameworks are indispensable for effective wildlife management, particularly with protected areas. Well-managed protected areas can generate multiple health benefits for people, animals, plants, and the environment. However, corruption, legal inconsistencies and weak management can make effective wildlife management difficult to apply and impossible to enforce. FAO supports transparent and inclusive governance practices that involve civil society and are adapted to the socio-ecological contexts.


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