Saturday, October 30, 2010

COP 10: Biodiversity conference off to a bold start with alarming study

In Nagoya, Japan, the opening to the 10th Conference of Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversities took off with a bold start, announcing a study that confirms that one-fifth of the world's vertebrates are faced with extinction.

The comprehensive study, combining the efforts of 174 authors, 115 academic and research institutions from 38 countries, worked with data covering 25,000 different species from the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. The results show that human expansion, logging, and over-hunting are moving 50 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians, on average, closer to extinction each year. According to renown Harvard University Professor Edward Wilson,
"The 'backbone' of biodiversity is being eroded."

But a unique feature of the study - and one that should catch the attention of the COP 10 policy- and decision-makers - is that the study also analyzed and confirmed the positive effects of conservation, that the efforts of nation's to protect worldwide biodiversity can have a demonstrable effect. The study's results show that without the current level of conservation that has taken place, biodiversity would have declined by another 20 percent.

"History has shown us that conservation can achieve the impossible, as anyone who knows the story of the White Rhinoceros in southern Africa knows," Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN's Species Survival Commission and an author on the study was quoted in Science Daily. "But this is the first time we can demonstrate the aggregated positive impact of these successes on the state of the environment."

This is a much better start to this conference than the COP 15 climate conference in 2009 or the CITES conference in March of this year, where political and economic lobbying ran roughshod over important conservation and environmental initiatives. For COP 10, this is a good step forward and the nations involved appear to be on board with the study's findings. Now the question is, what will be the final results of the conference in terms of policy and commitment? Lip service or definitive, lasting action?

Read more about the COP10 study in Science Daily.

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