Monday, May 10, 2010

International target for reducing biodiversity losses not met, UN report says

Circle of Blue: Despite global progress in preserving tropical forests and mangroves, no country will completely meet a 2010 target to reduce the loss of biodiversity, according to an assessment report released by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted in 1992 after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and ten years later the 192 countries that are party to the convention committed themselves to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss globally, regionally and nationally. The CBD’s report Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 finds that they have not met that goal and in many cases, biodiversity continues to diminish. This decline is happening as factors inimical to biodiversity are intensifying. The report identified five main areas of concern: habitat change, overexploitation of resources, pollution, invasive species and climate change.

Published every four years, the report noted that several species and habitats were particularly threatened: freshwater vertebrates, corals, amphibians, freshwater wetlands, sea ice habitats and coral reefs. Meanwhile improvements have been noted in mangroves and tropical forests. Countries failed to meet the target because biodiversity conservation measures are poorly funded and often ignored when infrastructure or industrial projects are designed, the report states.

Protecting biodiversity is essential because it is the basis for many of the ecosystem services nature provides that are beneficial to human life — services such as regulating climate and protecting against flooding. Biodiversity losses could be reduced if governments better understood the value of the ecosystems they are destroying, wrote Achim Steiner, the executive director of United Nations Environment Program, in the report’s foreword….

Henri Rousseau, "The Snake Charmer," 1907

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