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Conclusions

This page considers some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the information given about the link between biofuels and primate conservation.

Biofuels and Primate Conservation

The purpose of this website has been to highlight the connection between biofuels and primate conservation.  The connection is simple: most primates are dependent on trees and are particularly susceptible to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Deforestation inevitably leads to primate extinctions and will continue to do so. The burgeoning human population and its appetites for timber, for food and for fuel combine to put huge and unsustainable pressure on primates and their habitats. The desire to maintain "business as usual" (Stern, 2006: iii) as regards our energy needs for heating and transportation is directly impacting on rainforests and all those plants and animals dependent on them. This includes us. To imagine that we are somehow separate from the environment that supports us, at whatever level of remove, is short-sighted. 

The increases in biofuel production have implications other than the loss of primates in the wild. Ongoing deforestation is already resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Indeed, Myers describes it less as a loss of biodiversity than as "biodepletion...a mass extinction of species" (Myers, 2003: np). 

Perhaps more immediate concerns are those of which we already aware. The food and water shortages that we see today are likely to affect millions more people, not only because of population expansion but also because of globally increasing energy needs, both of food and fuel.

It is easy to sound alarmist about the problems we face and the immediacy of the solutions necessary to deal with them. However, the growing body of supporting evidence, for example, the IPCC (IPCC, 2007) and Stern (Stern, 2006) reports, leave little doubt that immediate, decisive action must be taken. 

Deforestation is just one aspect of climate change but it is one that is central to the debate. As well as being home to much of the world's biodiversity, forests influence local and global climate, and act as carbon sinks to help absorb carbon emissions. No high-level mathematics or statistics are required to see that if there is year-on-year reduction of millions of hectares of tropical forest, at some point there will be none remaining. 

The loss of the forest on Easter Island presents a telling example. Deforestation was already advanced over 1,200 years ago and the forest was gone by the fifteenth century. Having felled trees for canoes, and to transport and carve statues, "what were they thinking when they cut down the last palm tree?" (Diamond, 1995: 6). With the forest that remains in the wider world, it does not help to ask how many more trees can be cut down before we need to act; that time has already come.

What we must do is to "develop an ecological identity that underscores the connection between how we live and what happens around us... for us to wake up and... [face] the realities of shared existence and shared fate." (Meyer, 2006: 77).



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