Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Steven Stoll, Ph.D.


Tropical rainforests support a significant portion of the world’s total biodiversity. In addition, they provide a number of invaluable ecosystem services including climate regulation and mitigation, carbon sequestration, food, medicinal, and genetic resource provisioning, and cultural services. Today, an array of human land use decisions are the greatest driver of rainforest loss and degradation and are largely responsible for dramatic biodiversity losses globally, but especially in the Asia-Pacific and Neotropical regions where forest fragmentation has come to dominate landscapes. Protected area policies are among the oldest and most commonly employed tools for biological conservation and will be integral to the future of biological conservation. For this reason, many studies have sought to identify the conditions for protected area success with respect to biological conservation. This paper builds upon the existing literature to identify the conditions acting on two failing protected areas in the Asia-Pacific and Neotropical regions: Kerinci Seblat National Park and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve. The evaluation of the two case studies provides support for a number of predominating arguments concerning the effects of size, structure, enforcement mechanisms, and multi-directional managerial accountability mechanisms on the health and success of protected areas. In addition, the evaluation demonstrates the unique ways by which these four factors interact with one another to produce unique challenges on reserve health that are unique to the social, political, and economic contexts of either case study. Based on these findings, the paper ultimately argues in favor of the need for a more systems-level approach to protected area research and policymaking.