May 6, 2010

Planet’s Biodiversity Is In Dire Need

A top conservation group said Thursday that our planet urgently needs a "bailout plant" to protect its biodiversity.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned that failure to stem the loss of animal and plant species will have dire consequences on human well-being.

"The gap between the pressure on our natural resources and governments' response to the deterioration is widening," said Bill Jackson, the group's deputy director, calling for a 10-year strategy to reverse current trends.

"By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford," he said in a statement.

According to the IUCN's benchmark Red List of Threatened Species, a fifth of mammals, 30 percent of amphibians, 12 percent of known birds, and over a quarter of reef-building corals face extinction.

In 2002, the international community pledged to slow the biodiversity drop off by 2010, and incorporated the target into the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
However, according to a major scientific assessment published last week in the journal Science, the decline has continued.

The next opportunity to set new goals and determine a strategy to achieve them is at the October meeting in Nagoya, Japan of the Convention of Biological Diversity.

An advisory body of scientists will brainstorm and formulate recommendations in Nairobi, Kenya next week in order to prepare for October's event.

The IUCN said that discussions will cover protected areas, inland and marine water areas, the impact of climate change, biofuels, and invasive species.

"This year we have a one-off opportunity to really bring home to the world the importance of the need to save nature for all life on Earth," Jane Smart, head of the IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group, told the AFP news agency.

"If we don't come up with a big plan now, the planet will not survive," she said.

The IUCN, a key partner in the deliberations, draws over 1,000 government and NGO organizations together, as well as 11,000 volunteer scientists from 160 countries.


Image Caption: Endemic to Yunnan, China, the Yunnan Box Turtle (Cuora yunnanensis) was until recently believed to be Extinct, as it had not been seen since 1946. In 2004 it was rediscovered, and is now assessed as Critically Endangered. Collection information suggests that this species was not particularly rare around 1900, but only three individuals have been confirmed, all of them since 2004, despite at least 15 years of searches. Today any remaining populations are presumed to be exceedingly small and localized. Its precise distribution remains unclear. Remaining animals are under exceptional threat from collection, as they command a potentially very high price in the illegal pet trade, as well as in the consumption trade. Its presumed historical distribution is now extensively developed for settlement, tourism and agriculture. It is protected under Chinese legislation and is included in CITES Appendix II. It has successfully reproduced in captivity; a captive assurance colony could potentially reinforce natural populations should any be found in the wild. Image Courtesy Wikipedia


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