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Republic of the Marshall Islands Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism
RMI Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC)

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Changes in population and lifestyle

Invasive species are often introduced into new places because people's lifestyles have changed. Tramp ants tend to "sneak" into an area, hidden amidst lumber and other building material. If people were not to import these supplies, but only used local biological resources, the ants would never be able to make inroads.

Yet when too many people are crowded onto one small bit of land, the biological resources are not sufficient for all. What is there is quickly depleted and outside supplies must be brought in. Furthermore, the land which previously served as farmland for a small population is now cleared to make room for more houses, again precipitating more dependence on imported resources. Much of this imported foodstuffs are packaged in "non-environmentally friendly" containers - styrofoam, plastic and such which do not simply decompose into the soil as do native and traditional materials.

Without the green farmlands nearby, some persons tend to seek out greenery by planting flowers and other vegetation around their homes. This often leads them to import ornamentals, which all too often turn out to be invasive species that proceed to take over what little remaining native and traditional plants there may have been.

In the Marshall Islands, threats to biodiversity and traditional lifestyle are often aggravated by a breakdown in family structure. The change from a subsistence economy to one based on money obviously means fewer people are in the natural environment, tending to the land, gathering local materials, and in the process, teaching their children and grandchildren the names and useful properties of the plants and animals encountered.

In the old ways, everyone had to work together to provide not only for their immediate family, but also their extended family or "bwij." This was a "share and share alike" arrangement, which also translated into little waste of the resources. It also meant that the youngsters could see the relevance of learning the traditional knowledge. In an urban setting, children may not come to appreciate the value of certain trees, animals and traditional harvesting and fishing methods.

Another problem which comes with the deviation from the old ways is the adoption of modern technologies that are not always in accord with sustainable and traditional practices. In fact, some of the new techniques can be downright destructive. For example, the fruit of the "wop" tree was a traditional means of stunning fishes. While quite effective, eventually the stupefying effects did wear off, so that any fishes and other species of marine life not gathered were able to recover. However, in modem times, chlorine bleach has been used instead. The targeted fishes are similarly knocked out, but any other fishes that come in contact with the bleach, as well as nearby coral and other species, will likely be killed in the process. (According to current RMI law, however, neither "wop" nor bleach is a legal fishing method.)

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bulletHOME bullet NEWSbullet OVERVIEW OF LOCAL BIODIVERSITY bullet NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION bullet NATIONAL INITIATIVES bullet PUBLICATIONS bullet THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY:[ Introduction ::: Invasive species ::: Case 1: snails... ::: Case 2: invasions of plants ::: Case 3: ants - environmental disasters ::: you are hereChanges in population and lifestyle ::: Case: albatrosses and man ::: Nuclear testing and the biota ::: Case: radiation and the biota ::: Climate change ] bullet RMI NATURAL RESOURCES DATABASE bullet MISC. DATASETS AND MAPSbullet PARTNERS AND LINKS bullet CONTACTS bullet FEEDBACK bullet COPYRIGHT bullet ACCESSIBILITY bullet DISCLAIMER bullet PRIVACY bullet
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©RMI Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC)      Last update: 2 October 2008 
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