National parks, State Parks, and Wildlife reserves are vital in maintaining biodiversity on the planet. Biodiversity refers to the variety and differentiation of life on Earth. In essence, it represents the genetic variation of species and ecosystems in a given environment. Generally, terrestrial biodiversity is more evident at the equator as opposed to the tropics, due to the more favorable climate. Areas under legal protection have experienced an exponential increase in the last 25 years, since it is incumbent upon us to preserve nature especially with global warming and species extinction being on the rise, now more than ever.
Wilderness areas help to sustain biodiversity in many ways, including conservation of genetic resources (Westman, 1990). In tackling the problem of extinction of various species on the planet, including white rhinos, national parks have played a significant role. National parks provide a safe environment for endangered animals, thus preserving their existence. Characteristically, these protected areas limit human presence, which in turn prevents poaching and environmental degradation.
Again, national parks and wildlife reserves ensure that both humans and wildlife access to freshwater (Rands, 2010). In many cases, legally protected areas host water bodies which remain uncontaminated from human waste, which is not the case for non-protected water bodies.
Typically, national parks provide a perfect environment for the natural purification of water within the atmosphere. A large percentage of the Earth’s freshwater is obtained through natural processes as opposed to chemical disinfection which is done artificially.
National parks are also critical for Agriculture, especially in the pollination of crops in the field. Since protected areas conserve insects and birds in large numbers, these organisms find their way into agricultural lands and pollinate various plants, which improves the productivity of those crops. These organisms also ensure better seed dispersal for different crops which leads to more yields. National parks and wildlife reserves also provide raw materials for biochemical including herbicides, pesticides, and various agrochemicals that are derived from different organisms in wilderness areas.
In many cases, wilderness areas are characterized by forests. These areas help to conserve the soil, which is a crucial part of biodiversity (Nepal, 1995). National parks and State parks prevent soil erosion by ensuring that the ground remains intact through thick forest cover. They also regulate soil temperature by blocking direct sunlight from reaching the soil. As such, these areas facilitate useful soil aggregation, which is crucial for the survival of soil organisms.
Perhaps one of the most critical roles of wilderness areas in the conservation of biodiversity is the regulation of climate change and subsequent global warming (Margaret, 2005). This is because national parks and state parks protect vegetation, especially trees that act as carbon sequesters. As such, these areas help to cut down on greenhouse gases which cause global warming. Again, water bodies in conserved regions act as carbon sinks, by dissolving excess carbon gases. This contributes to the goal of curbing climate change.
Although National parks and State parks are essential in conserving biodiversity, they may also harm it in several ways including reduction of land for agriculture. With the population of the Earth growing exponentially, we need more land for agriculture. National parks are located in highly productive areas; thus, they act as hindrances for the extension of arable land.
All in all, wilderness areas are crucial in the conservation of biodiversity. It is essential to increase the number of protected areas so that nature can be conserved.
Rands, Michael RW, et al. “Biodiversity conservation: challenges beyond 2010.” science 329.5997 (2010): 1298-1303.
Nepal, Sanjay Kumar, and K. W. Weber. “Managing resources and resolving conflicts: national parks and local people.” International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 2.1 (1995): 11-25.
Westman, Walter E. “Managing for biodiversity.” BioScience 40.1 (1990): 26-33. Naughton-Treves, Lisa, Margaret Buck Holland, and Katrina Brandon. “The role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and sustaining local livelihoods.” Annu. Rev. Environ. Resource. 30 (2005): 219-252.