World leaders ‘fail to stem biodiversity loss’

April 30th, 2010 - 2:19 pm ICT by ANI  

London, April 30 (ANI): A major study has confirmed that the world’s governments will not be able to meet their internationally agreed target of curbing the loss of species and nature by 2010.

The 2010 target had been adopted in 2002, but scientists behind this study say implementation has been “woeful”.

“Our analysis shows that governments have failed to deliver on the commitments they made in 2002,” the BBC quoted research leader Stuart Butchart, from the UN Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (Unep-WCMC) and BirdLife International.

“Biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever, and we have made little headway in reducing the pressures on species, habitats and ecosystems,” he said.

The study combined more than 30 indicators of how species and ecosystems are changing, and they encompass plants and animals from land and sea.

“Since 1970, we have reduced animal populations by 30 percent, the area of mangroves and seagrasses by 20 percent and the coverage of living corals by 40 percent,” Unep chief scientist Joseph Alcamo said.

“These losses are clearly unsustainable,” he stated.

Even though policies have been put in place to slow down biodiversity loss, there have been no indication of a decrease, and instead almost all were facing an increase in loss.

The authors argue that policies to restrict the threats to biodiversity are simply not up to the job.

“Although nations have put in place some significant policies to slow biodiversity declines, these have been woefully inadequate, and the gap between the pressures on biodiversity and the responses is getting ever wider,” Dr Butchart said.

While about 12 percent of land is now under some kind of protection, not all of it is effectively managed, and less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans are protected. Conservationists hope that laying the sheer scale of the issue before governments will induce them to take tougher steps in the near future.

“We can no longer use the excuse that we don’t know enough about the loss of diversity of life on our planet,” Jean-Christophe Vie, deputy head of the Species Programme at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), said.

“The role of governments is paramount; but the magnitude and rate of loss of biodiversity means that everyone, from individuals to businesses, must act now to save all life on Earth before we reach breaking point,” Vie stated.

Governments will review their failure to meet the 2010 target, and probably set new ones, at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) summit in Nagoya, Japan, in October.

New targets are likely to be directed at stemming the threats to biodiversity, such as unsustainable agriculture, pollution and the growing scale of cities and transport networks.

“World leaders faced the economic crisis head on,” noted Simon Stuart, head of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

“We need that same level of investment and commitment for the environment,” he added.

The study has been published in the journal Science. (ANI)

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