Regulating processes and activities detrimental to biodiversity

Many processes and practices, such as agricultural chemical use or the introduction of species, can have widespread adverse impacts on biodiversity. Few of these processes, however, are regulated. Most regulatory approaches to conservation instead emphasize the restriction of certain activities within limited areas. Processes that are regulated most commonly include the use of pesticides and the introduction of species. New legislation on genetically modified organisms is aimed at the protection of humans, livestock and crops as well as biodiversity.

Other activities now regulated are the use of trawls and drift nets at sea, and open-air activities such as off-road driving, rock climbing and the construction of golf courses. Controls are usually introduced only after the damage caused by such activities has become unacceptable to public opinion, yet proposed restrictions almost invariably clash with vested interests. Methods to identify and manage processes and activities that may cause serious damage to biodiversity must therefore be developed before they become too established.