1 Tahrcountry Musings: Biological Infrastructure that Supports Life in Jeopardy Says the latest Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO3) Report

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Biological Infrastructure that Supports Life in Jeopardy Says the latest Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO3) Report

The latest Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (GBO3) report is a grim reminder of the risks that face biological infrastructure that supports life. This is a lengthy post. I have tried to put in a nutshell the salient points of the report.
  • Species which have been assessed for extinction risk are on average moving closer to extinction. Amphibians face the greatest risk and coral species are deteriorating most rapidly in status. Nearly a quarter of plant species are estimated to be threatened with extinction.
  • The abundance of vertebrate species, based on assessed populations, fell by nearly a third on average between 1970 and 2006, and continues to fall globally, with especially severe declines in the tropics and among freshwater species.
  • Natural habitats in most parts of the world continue to decline in extent and integrity, although there has been significant progress in slowing the rate of loss for tropical forests and mangroves, in some regions. Freshwater wetlands, sea ice habitats, salt marshes, coral reefs, seagrass beds and shellfish reefs are all showing serious declines.
  • Extensive fragmentation and degradation of forests, rivers and other ecosystems have also led to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • Crop and livestock genetic diversity continues to decline in agricultural systems.
  • The five principal pressures directly driving biodiversity loss (habitat change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive alien species and climate change) are either constant or increasing in intensity.
  • The ecological footprint of humanity exceeds the biological capacity of the Earth by a wider margin than at the time the 2010 target was agreed.
The continued loss of biodiversity has major implications for current and future human well-being. The provision of food, fibre, medicines and fresh water, pollination of crops, filtration of pollutants, and protection from natural disasters are among those ecosystem services potentially threatened by loss of biodiversity. Cultural services such as spiritual and religious values, opportunities for knowledge and education have declined.  Recreational and aesthetic values are also declining.
The report recommends
  • Much greater efficiency in the use of land, energy, fresh water and materials to meet growing demand.
  • Use of market incentives, and avoidance of perverse subsidies to minimize unsustainable resource use and wasteful consumption.
  • Strategic planning in the use of land, inland waters and marine resources to reconcile development with conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of multiple ecosystem services. While some actions may entail moderate costs or tradeoffs, the gains for biodiversity can be large in comparison.
  • Ensuring that the benefits arising from use of and access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, for example through the development of drugs and cosmetics, are equitably shared with the countries and cultures from which they are obtained.
  • Communication, education and awareness raising to ensure that as far as possible, everyone understands the value of biodiversity and what steps they can take to protect it, including through changes in personal consumption and behaviour.
Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (ISBN-92-9225-220-8) is an open access publication, subject to the terms of the Creative Commons. Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 is freely available online: www.cbd.int/GBO3.

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