Human population growth rates often impact conservation in many ways. Indirect human-induced pressures on natural resources include:
Lack of access to health services, such as FP/RH services, vaccinations, and services that ensure a safe motherhood
CI works in some of the most pristine biodiversity areas of the world. These areas are, by definition, rural and remote, where residents have limited access to basic government services, such as health care and education. These factors result in high fertility and low use of contraceptive. They also contribute to birth complications, low rates of pre- and post- natal care, and infant and maternal mortality rates above the regional average.
Residents of Cambodia, Madagascar and the Philippines have some of the highest population growth rates, maternal and child mortality, and unmet need for family planning. In the rural target areas, inhabitants often have the greatest health need and therefore exert considerable pressure on local resources in order to afford medicines, transport to distant health facilities and other critical health services.
Loss of habitats due to the conversion of forests to agricultural land is a pressing threat to biodiversity worldwide. In Baggao, Philippines, 88 percent of households practice slash-and-burn agriculture within secondary growth forest.
In Madagascar, despite a government ban on the practice, poor rural farmers still burn parcels of land for rice production in order to meet family nutritional needs.
In Cambodia, the average rural family does not have enough rice to meet its basic nutritional needs for three to four months out of the year. These economic pressures increase intensification of natural resource exploitation and lead to irreversible soil erosion and species loss.
Degradation of water resources
Freshwater is essential for human health, food production, hydropower generation, transportation, and economic growth and development. During the twentieth century, global human population increased fourfold. During that same period, water withdrawal from freshwater ecosystems increased eightfold.
Unfortunately, freshwater resources in areas where CI has worked are often threatened by destructive slash-and-burn practices that cause unmitigated soil erosion. In the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia, a wave of new dam construction threatens to block virtually all free flowing rivers in the Cardamom Mountains Conservation Landscape. Local residents who rely on freshwater there for their livelihoods and survival may be forced to move into more remote and vulnerable areas in order to find freshwater.
Unsustainable natural resource management practices
Community residents who rely on resource harvesting, such as hunting or fishing, contribute to destructive environmental practices as they lack the knowledge of alternative practices and access to other employment opportunities. They therefore continue to exert pressures on already threatened resources.
Poverty is an additional driver in this situation as, in many cases, people lack the economic stability to explore other options. In all three target countries, CI worked with partners and donors to address this threat by building the capacity for sustainable resource use in both the communities and NGOs; addressing policy issues; and fostering coalitions to improve species, landscape and corridor conservation in a holistic manner.