The wildlife sites that WLT partners protect do more for people than simply store carbon.
We are working to characterise and quantify the range of Ecosystem Services these sites provide. Some key Ecosystem Services include:
Protect and regulate water supplies
- Many WLT project sites are forests. Forest canopies act as a foil for rainfall, slowing its movement to the forest floor. Understory vegetation and soils absorb rain water. By acting as an absorptive sponge, these forest sites can regulate both water quantity and quality, maintaining the water resources upon which local communities have become accustomed and adapted to and providing a natural system of flood control. Without our work, such sites would probably be lost or heavily degraded, disrupting water supplies and affecting local human well-being.
Influence the weather
- The vegetation that cloaks a landscape influences local and regional weather patterns. Forests on the slopes of the Andes, for example, moderate wind speeds and local air turbulence, and the transpiration of the tree canopy greatly influences cloud formation and rain fall. Maintaining intact forests can ensure that unfavourable changes in local weather patterns are avoided. Changes in local weather patterns as a result of forest loss can affect crop growing, local food availability and income.
Provide a haven for pollinators
- Forest patches provide irreplaceable habitats for pollinating insects, birds and mammals which then venture into adjacent agricultural areas in search of nectar supplies. In the process, they pollinate farmer’s crops.
Protect soils from erosion
- Forest vegetation binds the soil and acts as a buffer during heavy rain fall. Consequently forests are a major contributor to slope stability in upland regions, significantly reducing the frequency and severity of landslides. This is a major benefit for communities living in these areas.
Provide sanctuaries for wildlife
- Many of the regions in which we work have been classified as biodiversity hotspots, places where at least 80% of the original habitat has been destroyed by human activities. One consequence of this damage is that wild species upon which many people depend for food have become severely depleted at a landscape scale. Today, the small remaining fragmented patches of habitat are a sanctuary for wildlife and also often the only place where game animals, medicinal plants, etc can still be found.
Boost local economies through nature tourism
- Many of the wildlife sites managed by our partners include facilities for visitors, bringing a welcome new economic opportunity into often remote rural areas. This can provide a strong incentive for local communities to act as guardians of wildlife sites in their neighbourhood.