Friday, April 30, 2010

Bio-diversity: Why does no one seem to care?

Or at least, none of the people who can really effect the outcome of the problem?
But they clearly haven't worked too well. The problem, says Butchart, is that while there have been lots of plans on paper, "they have been inadequately targeted, implemented and funded". There are lots of protected areas, but they haven't been given enough money and are not in the most biologically important places. More than 80 per cent of governments have promised to tackle invasive alien species, but fewer than half have done anything.
The report can be found in the April 29, 2010 issue of Science (PDF, 9 pages). And what does the report say? The factors leading to loss of biodiversity continue to trend upward, with no promise of slowing down. The major factors? They are as follows:
The majority of indicators of pressures on biodiversity show increasing trends over recent decades, with increases in: (i) aggregate human consumption of the planet’s ecological assets; (ii) deposition of reactive nitrogen; (iii) number of alien species in Europe; (iv) proportion of fish stocks over-harvested; and (v) impact of climate change on European bird population trends. In no case was there a significant reduction in the rate of increase ...
They also mention habitat fragmentation and mentioned a pretty alarming trend there as well:
... 59% of large river systems are moderately or strongly fragmented by dams and reservoirs ...
Fifty-nine percent? Ouch!

So what is their conclusion?
Our results show that, despite a few encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity need to be substantially strengthened, by reversing detrimental policies, fully integrating biodiversity into broad-scale landuse planning, incorporating its economic value adequately into decision making, and sufficiently targeting, funding and implementing policies that tackle biodiversity loss, among other measures. Sustained investment in coherent global biodiversity monitoring and indicators is essential to track and improve the effectiveness of these responses.
Let us hope that this report does not fall on deaf ears.


Philip H. said...

The short answer - and I work this problem nearly daily in some form or another for my agency - is that the scientific considerations are almost always looked at in a manner that is divorced from human economic activity. What I mean is that when an agency looks at imposing a marine protected area or other management action, it is often compleed legally to do so based on scientific evidence, with out any equal compelling reason to look at how to pay for the reserve, or how to provide an alternate economic activity for those displaced by the reserve. So on the ground, stakeholders balk, politicians deny funds, and more papers get published in Science Magazine that cry the alarm.

Thus, my long standing belief that we need more generalists, not more technicians.

jg said...

Thanks for this topic. Biodiversity has beem my biggest anxiety, more than climate change (though know how they are related). As a lay person, I take comfort in my support of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. I'm also involved in a lot of local issues too. It's a good way to be called an "environmental wacko extremist who's trying to shut the country down." I think I'll put that on my card.