Estimates suggest that ~100 million ha of tropical forest was lost between 1980 and 2012 and that ~20% of the tropical forests were selectively logged in the 5 year period between 2000 and 2005. These changes are ultimately driven by increasing human population size and consumption and it is estimates that between 1.2 and 1.5 billion people rely on tropical forests for food, timber, medicine, and ecosystem services. One estimate suggests that approximately 1 billion ha of additional land - an area larger than Canada - primarily in developing countries, will need to be converted to agriculture by 2050 to meet the demands of the growing human population.
This is a situation that cannot persist if a world that I would like to envision will exist, so it is my belief that we must each play our part and try to set things on the "right path". Through my role as faculty at McGill University, Honorary lecturer at Makerere University, and as a Research Associate of the Wildlife Conservation Society, I am actively involved in a number of conservation efforts. Some of these efforts are academic in nature and are designed to provide managers, particularly the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, with the information needed to construct informed conservation plans, while others involve training or are strictly applied. Activities we are currently engaged in include:
1 Continuing to promote a clinic and a mobile health clinic system for Kibale National Park, Uganda to provide basic health services and health and conservation education. This next year we will run a special program to provide 2000 bed nets to local people.
2 Training of Ugandan students in the needed tools, academic skills, and knowledge to address conservation issues in Uganda – I currently am supervising 4 students at Makerere University in Uganda.
3 Exploring tropical forest restoration to provide managers with the information to restore degraded tropical forests and the animal populations that they could support.
4 Working with media groups around the world to increase awareness about the conservation of tropical ecosystems.
5 Investigating the impact of animals, particularly primate and elephants, on long-term forest dynamics.