fish swimming in the ocean

Thousands of wild animal and plant species worldwide face extinction because of human exploitation, including many species humans rely on for nutrition, clothing, shelter and more.

A team of global researchers, including a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa expert, has developed guidelines for the sustainable use of wild species, to ensure their survival for future generations.

The ​​Assessment Report on Sustainable Use of Wild Species was approved by 139 governments that are members of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in early July 2022. School of Life Sciences Professor Tamara Ticktin co-led one of the report’s five chapters. A total of 84 other global experts worked on the report for approximately four years. It is expected to be the main resource to inform policy decisions and promote the sustainable use of wild species from the global scale down to the local scale.

“Our assessment emphasizes that there is no one size fits all solution to fostering sustainable use,” Ticktin said. “Instead, solutions need to be locally based and species specific.”

Ticktin added, “Wild species are important in the everyday lives of billions of people—from those of us in low to high income countries, and living in rural to urban communities. This assessment highlights the importance of wild species to humanity, the conditions under which the use of those species is sustainable, and how use can be made more sustainable.”

Impact in Hawaiʻi

In Hawaiʻi, large numbers of wild species remain critical in everyday life, from the marine resources that feed local communities, to those that go onto the dinner plates of visitors in high-end restaurants, to plants critical to the perpetuation of cultural practices.

The assessment highlights the importance of wild resources to Indigenous and local communities.
—Tamara Ticktin

“The assessment highlights the importance of wild resources to Indigenous and local communities, the importance of learning from the values, knowledge and practices associated with their stewardship, and of bringing members of Indigenous and local communities and western scientists together to the decision-making table,” Ticktin said. “In the marine realm, examples of this in Hawaiʻi are the community-based subsistence fishing areas and other community-centered management efforts. The Puʻuwaʻawaʻa community-based subsistence forest area in North Kona provides a first example of this kind of initiative on the land.”

Ticktin also said Hawaiʻi residents can help preserve wild species by purchasing more products that are sustainably sourced, and reach out to policymakers and lawmakers to develop relevant policies for the sustainable use of wild species.

Research to enact policy

According to experts, 50,000 wild species meet the needs of billions of people around the globe. One in five people rely on wild species for income and food, more than 10,000 wild species are harvested for food, and 2.4 billion people depend on fuel wood from wild tree species for cooking.

The report identifies drivers such as land- and seascape changes, climate change, pollution and invasive alien species that impact the abundance and distribution of wild species, and can increase challenges within the human communities that use them. It also provides seven key elements to be used as guidelines to promote the sustainable use of wild species across various regions and sectors:

  • Policy options that are inclusive and participatory
  • Policy options that recognize rights and support multiple forms of knowledge
  • Policy instruments and tools that ensure fair and equitable distribution of costs and benefits
  • Context-specific policies
  • Monitoring of wild species and practices
  • Policy instruments that are aligned at international, national, regional and local levels; maintain coherence and consistency with international obligations and take into account customary rules and norms
  • Robust institutions, including customary institutions