How Russia’s war on Ukraine is hurting wildlife conservation

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, war

The war in Ukraine and Russia’s international isolation have harmed biodiversity conservation, according to a new study published in Frontiers of conservation science. The international study was co-authored by a researcher from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

Conservationists monitoring migratory species, such as the kohalā (humpback whale) and the kōlea (Pacific golden plover), must rely on a global network of scientists, governments and like-minded organizations. same ideas for collecting wildlife data; however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made the search difficult.

“Knowledge exchange is impacted because international science partnerships no longer benefit from Russian funding or expertise — and vice versa,” said Melissa Price, assistant professor at UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

“Collaborative projects are pending, such as in the Arctic as well as a number of studies of migratory birds, whales and other species that spend part of their time in the waters off Siberia, other times moving across the Pacific Ocean to the tropics or the North American continent.This also impacts the lives of exchange students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scholars.

Price participated in the study as chair of the Global Policy Committee of the Society for Conservation Biology, an international organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving Earth’s biological diversity. She is particularly concerned about the far-reaching consequences for nature conservation, such as habitat loss and species extinction.

Impacts on biodiversity research

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, satellite tracking of animals through the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS), a global animal monitoring system, was discontinued. ICARUS relied on the Russian space agency, which ended data sharing on March 3, 2022.

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“We view war as a political action, but it has huge implications for biodiversity,” Price said. “As species move between arctic and tropical waters, we need strong international alliances to track, study and conserve them.”

Russia’s isolation has also disrupted ongoing environmental negotiations, delayed international cooperation on environmental issues, and abruptly shifted international and domestic political priorities, according to the study.

Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper distribution and aviary facilities for tundra start-up program (inset). Blue shaded areas indicate non-breeding areas (Southeast Asia), orange shaded areas indicate breeding areas (Northeast Russia), and pink arrows indicate the approximate migration route. Map: EAAFP Secretariat; illustration of Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok; photo of aviary facilities: Sayam U. Chowdhury. Image credit: Gallo-Cajiao et al (2023).

Spoon-billed Sandpiper recovery halted

Russia’s suspension of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications system has limited international assistance for migratory species conservation projects in Russia, halting ongoing efforts on the ground for many endangered species that breed in the Russian Far East and migrate to the southeast and south. Asia.

Example: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one of the most endangered shorebirds in the world, with a population of less than 300 adults. The species breeds in the Russian Far East and winters in Southeast Asia. According to the journal article:

“In order to arrest the rapid population decline, a starter program was started in Chukotka, Russia in 2012 which involved collecting eggs from wild nests, hatching the eggs in captivity, hand-rearing and releasing birds on the tundra. after three weeks. Between 2012 and 2021, a total of 237 juvenile Spoon-billed Sandpipers were released into the wild as part of this program. The start-up program has been a central part of conservation efforts for this species and is considered to have slowed the decline of the population. Russia’s current isolation has already halted this program due to impediments to travel by collaborators from other countries, as well as the international remittances to Russia on which this effort depends.

Moreover, food security for humans has taken over, forcing the European Union to relax biodiversity conservation policies in order to intensify agricultural efforts and address food shortages.

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“Ultimately, how war can affect other institutional arrangements beyond those we have presented here, how international cooperation can continue in the midst of war, how cooperation can be restored to where it is lost and what measurable impacts on the ground the war may have beyond Ukraine due to shocks to governance, remain questions that merit scholarly attention,” wrote the international team of authors of the ‘article.

Thanks to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for providing this news.

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