The Society believes that there is a place for the commercial, consumptive use of wildlife, and recognises that a potential for a conservation gain from the use is an important positive aspect. The Society notes that the commercial use of wildlife is in no way a novelty, with forestry and fishing being prime examples of established commercial use.
This Position Statement have been developed on the understanding that the majority of AWMS members are likely to support a biocentric (= 'conservation') ethic, rather than an anthropocentric or animal liberation ethic.
Wildlife is used to encompass undomesticated native animals and uncultivated native plants.
Sustainability is taken to mean the capacity for long-term commercial use without reducing the species' geographic range, changing existing patterns of genetic variability, or radically altering community structure and function.
Based on the above, THE AUSTRALASIAN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT SOCIETY:
RECOGNISES that the people of Australia and New Zealand place a high value on the conservation of native plants and animals and that decisions about wildlife use are always the consequence of an amalgam of facts and values;
Is CONCERNED that despite this interest, biodiversity continues to be lost, largely due to land-use priorities that favour exotic species at the expense of native ones;
AGREES that, in developing a policy in relation to any particular wildlife management issue, the Society must place particular emphasis upon the application of scientific information and methodology but, in doing so, should not ignore values, and should strive to find a consensus view reflecting the values held by a majority of its members;
SUPPORTS the concept of achieving habitat and species conservation goals through the sustainable use of wildlife, whether consumptive or non-consumptive, as spelled out in the resolution adopted at the December 1990 General Assembly of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which recognised, inter alia, that '... ethical, wise and sustainable use of some wildlife can provide an alternative or supplementary means of productive land use, and can be consistent with and encourage conservation, where such use is in accordance with adequate safeguards...';
RECOGNISES the need to develop suitable guidelines to ensure that the commercial use of a particular species habitat is sustainable, within the social, economic, and ecological context in which the use takes place, and to be sufficiently flexible to account for risk and uncertainty in all these variables;
ACCEPTS that landowners are more likely to expend resources conserving wildlife that is economically valuable to them, than wildlife with a neutral or negative economic value;
RECOGNISES that a threshold exists between sustainable and non-sustainable commercial use. The threshold is the ratio of the annual rate of increase to the annual discount rate. If the ratio is greater than 1.0 then sustainable commercial use is possible. If the ratio is less than 1.0, commercial use will most likely be non-sustainable;
Is AWARE that it is now technically and scientifically possible to sustain uses of wildlife for commercial purposes, without endangering species or their supporting ecosystems;
RECOGNISES that any species which has the capacity to support commercially profitable and ecologically sustainable harvests is a potential candidate for commercial activity;
ACKNOWLEDGES that the commercial use of wildlife provides special opportunities for the sustainable economic development of rural people, including indigenous people, especially in remote areas;
RECOGNISES that there are some species for which cultural considerations prohibit any consumptive use and there is a need to consider each case individually, on its merits, and further;
CONSIDERS that the sanction of a harvest or other use should take into account potential benefits to the conservation of the species' habitat and other species in its community.
ACCORDINGLY, AWMS RECOMMENDS THAT :
This position statement reflects the content of cited papers and the opinions of the authors. While the views expressed in this position statement have been circulated for comment within the Society, they do not necessarily reflect the views of all the AWMS members. AWMS makes no claim as to the accuracy of this document and any party using this information does so at their own risk.