The future of protected areas in a crowded world.

D. Harmon, S. R. Brechin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Population-environment interactions date back to Malthus and even Confucius who viewed humans as a threat to the planet. In contrast, pronatalists regard the human mind the ultimate resource and think that there is no limit to the number of people the earth can support. There are a few countries whose population is projected to be lower in 2025 than it was in 1990: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, and Italy. The highest population growth rates (3% and above) are in Africa, the Gulf states, and some other Islamic countries. Rates of 1-3% are common everywhere outside Europe. Almost all of the wealthiest countries are growing at the rate of less than 1%, while the poorest countries, except for China and Sri Lanka, are growing at rates of 2% or more. The world's continuing population growth rides on the fact that in developing countries 40% of the population is under the age of 15. Relentless urbanization will eradicate 1.4 billion acres of arable land from 1980 to 2000. In 1950, 13 of the 25 most populous cities were in less developed countries; by 2000, 20 out of 25 will be. Migration, especially rural-urban migration, has an impact. "Economic refugees" from impoverished rural areas, "environmental refugees" from overworked lands or disaster-stricken areas, and political refugees from wars or persecution crowd around protected areas. Some examples of the population-protected area interactions include Kenya (the 3.56% growth rate threatens the world-renowned national parks), Tanzania (its 3.28% rate of growth causes encroachment into protected areas), Congo (natural rainforests are disturbed), Gabon (the rate of growth is 4.01%), and Zaire (an annual increment of over 1 million people). The threat to unexploited wildlife in the Ivory Coast, direct pressure on forested protected areas in Malaysia, deforestation in the Philippines, in-migration into the Pelen in Guatemala, the situation of the Shenandoah National Park in the United States, and pressures facing coastal areas of Mediterranean Europe are other situations that need stabilization, reduction, and restoration measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalThe George Wright forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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