JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
The UN Decade on Biodiversity and beyond 2019-
What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
Damian Carrington, Environment editor, The Guardian
It is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. If that sounds bewilderingly broad, that’s because it is. Biodiversity is the most complex feature of our planet and it is the most vital. “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” says Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University.
The term was coined in 1985 – a contraction of “biological diversity” – but the huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling – or quite possibly surpassing – climate change.
More formally, biodiversity is comprised of several levels, starting with genes, then individual species, then communities of creatures and finally entire ecosystems, such as forests or coral reefs, where life interplays with the physical environment. These myriad interactions have made Earth habitable for billions of years. (12 March 2018)
One Health Joint Plan of Action launched to address health threats to humans, animals, plants and environment
(WHO) …a new One Health Joint Plan of Action was launched by the Quadripartite – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE).
This first joint plan on One Health aims to create a framework to integrate systems and capacity so that we can collectively better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats. Ultimately, this initiative seeks to improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment, while contributing to sustainable development.
Cop15 is an opportunity to save nature. We can’t afford another decade of failure
Ahead of the UN biodiversity conference, our reporter reflects on lessons of hope and change in three years reporting with the Guardian’s age of extinction team
In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, …governments set up three UN conventions to deal with climate change, biodiversity loss and desertification. Since then, the climate crisis has been treated as separate to the biodiversity crisis, yet there is huge overlap between the two.
Some people think separating them was an error. …
Governments are slowly starting to treat them as one issue. Many commentators said the Cop26 UN climate talks in 2021 marked a new era, with ambitious pledges to protect forests, which store not only vast amounts of carbon but are rich in biodiversity, too.
Australia signs global nature pledge committing to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030
The Australian government has signed a global pledge endorsed by more than 90 countries committing them to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, announced Australia had joined the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature at an event taking place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In a video message, he said Australia’s approach to environmental challenges had changed and the government understood climate change and the global loss of biodiversity were dual crises.
“This highlights Australia’s reinvigorated approach to protecting our environment and climate leadership and signals our solidarity with other world leaders in our commitment to taking strong action on the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change,” he said.
Global Biodiversity Framework Talks Achieve “Varying Levels of Progress”
The UN Biodiversity Conference, which will convene from 5-17 December 2022 in Montreal, Canada, is expected to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
(IISD) The fourth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework yielded progress on several issues, including green and blue spaces for urban areas, non-financial elements of resource mobilization, and sharing of benefits from digital sequence information on genetic resources.
The Urgency of Transforming Biodiversity Governance
By Elsa Tsioumani, IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin and University of Trento, Italy, Marcel T. J. Kok, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers, Radboud University, Netherlands
Biodiversity underpins many SDGs well beyond the scope of SDGs 14 and 15 that respectively address life below water and life on land.
The worldwide failure to address biodiversity loss has led to a growing consensus that fundamental, transformative changes are needed in order to reverse these trends.
A recently published open-access book aims to provide and further develop a governance perspective on achieving transformative change.
Cop15: lack of political leadership leaves crucial nature summit ‘in peril’, warn NGOs
Nairobi biodiversity talks end in stalemate, prompting open letter to world leaders calling for action before Montreal conference
(The Guardian) UN biodiversity negotiations have reached crisis point due to a lack of engagement from governments, leading NGOs have warned, three years after experts revealed that Earth’s life-support systems are collapsing.
Last week, countries met in Nairobi for an extra round of talks on an agreement to halt the human-driven destruction of the natural world, with the final targets set to be agreed at Cop15 in Montreal. Governments have never met a target they have set for themselves on halting the destruction of nature despite scientists warning in 2019 that one million species face extinction, and that nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history.
While world leaders including Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson have underscored the importance of the summit, which only takes place once a decade, the biodiversity negotiations have seen substantial divisions between the global north and south over money, proposals to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, and implementation of any agreement. The Africa group warned it would not sign off the final post-2020 global biodiversity framework unless it includes a target on digital biopiracy.
Global Biodiversity Framework: What happened in Nairobi?
The preparatory meeting on biodiversity ends with little consensus
The six-day meeting of the open-ended working group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework failed to achieve as much as was expected.
The objective of the meeting was to reach a consensus on the text of the framework, which is to be finalised at the 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in December.
The secretariat had hoped that the meeting would resolve as much as 80 per cent of the square brackets introduced in the text at the Geneva meeting earlier this year. The negotiators suggest additions and deletions to the text; these are put in square brackets denoting that there isn’t any consensus of the issue.
Venue and Date for Part Two of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the Tenth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol and the Fourth meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol
Acknowledging the urgency to address the biodiversity crisis, adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and launch its implementation, the COP Presidency and Bureau have emphasized that the second part of the Meetings must be held in 2022. Due to the continued uncertainties related to the ongoing global pandemic, China, as COP President, with the support of the Bureau, has decided to relocate the meetings from Kunming to a venue outside of China.
After close consultation among the Government of China as COP President, the Bureau, the Secretariat and the Government of Canada as host of the Secretariat, it has been decided that the second part of the Meetings will take place at the seat of the Secretariat, in Montreal, Canada from 5 to 17 December 2022.
On the Road to the 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference: Imagining the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
IISD Policy Brief
The international community, under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is set to review successes and failures in the context of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and negotiate a global biodiversity framework for the post-2020 era.
The 2020 UN Biodiversity Conference, to be held in October 2020 in Kunming, China, will be a critical moment for environmental decision making.
What steps are needed to reach a meaningful agreement?
E.O. Wilson, naturalist dubbed a modern-day Darwin, dies at 92
(Reuters) – E.O. Wilson, an American naturalist dubbed the modern day Darwin whose interest in ants led him to conclusions about human nature being directed by genetics rather than culture, died on Sunday at the age of 92, his foundation said.
Alongside British naturalist David Attenborough, Wilson was considered one of the world’s leading authorities on natural history and conservation.
“E.O. Wilson was called ‘Darwin’s natural heir,’ and was known affectionately as ‘the ant man’ for his pioneering work as an entomologist,” the foundation wrote. It did not cite a cause of death but said a tribute to his life was planned for 2022.
In addition to groundbreaking work in evolution and entomology, in his later years Wilson spearheaded a campaign to unite the scientific and religious communities in an odd-couple pairing he felt presented the best chance to preserve Earth.
Wilson presented his views in over 30 books, two of which – “On Human Nature” in 1979 and “The Ants” in 1991 – won Pulitzer Prizes for non-fiction. His writing style was far more elegant than might have been expected from a scientist.
He even ventured into fiction – although he stuck to a topic he knew a lot about – in 2010 with “Anthill,” a coming-of-age novel about an Alabama boy trying to save marshlands.
NGOs demand action for imperilled wildlife at Marseille biodiversity conference
(France 24) The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conference started on Friday in France’s second-largest city Marseille – with NGOs and scientists hoping to take the world from a sense of urgency to concrete action to protect the planet’s imperilled wildlife.
After wildfires and extreme climate events across the planet – not to mention the latest IPCC report – underlined this summer that climate change is already a terrifying reality, the IUCN conference opened on September 3 to bring together NGOs, scientists, businesses, indigenous peoples and government representatives from across the world.
NGOs are especially keen to use this eight-day conference to make a difference. Seeing as the conference is open to the general public this year, they see impressing on people just how the stakes are for biodiversity as one of their most important missions.
NGOs will vote on 19 motions – including the protection of marine mammals, the protection of ancient European forests and limiting the mining industry’s impact on biodiversity.
These recommendations are not legally binding – but they will allow NGOs to influence discussions at the COP15 on biodiversity in China in October and the COP26 on climate change in the UK in November.
23 August – 3 September
Preparations for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework
The Convention on Biological Diversity’s Bureau of the Conference of the Parties in consultation with the Government of Colombia, as host of the WG2020-3, decided to convene the meeting virtually. This is an exceptional measure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
China submits draft biodiversity declaration to United Nations
(Reuters) – China will urge countries to recognise the importance of biodiversity in human health and endorse key Chinese Communist Party slogans about protecting natural ecosystems, according to a draft declaration submitted to the United Nations this week.
China wants the “Kunming Declaration” to be agreed by all parties ahead of delayed “COP 15” biodiversity talks due to take place in October in the southwestern city of Kunming, with the aim of sealing a new global treaty.
The “zero draft” of the declaration, published on the official website of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity on Thursday, includes the key Chinese Communist Party concept of “ecological civilisation”.
It also includes the formulation of “lucid water and lush mountains”, first used in a 2005 speech by President Xi Jinping and included in dozens of Chinese policy documents and propaganda campaigns since he became leader in 2012.
The 1st Draft of The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework debuts
23 August – 3 September 2021
Third meeting of the Open Ended Working Group (Virtual)
…[T]he fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD] will adopt a post-2020 global biodiversity framework as a stepping stone towards the 2050 Vision of “Living in harmony with nature”. In its decision 14/34 the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a comprehensive and participatory process for the preparation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The negotiations to develop the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, prior to the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, are being undertaken by a dedicated open-ended intersessional working group under the leadership of its two co-chairs, Mr. Francis Ogwal (Uganda) and Mr. Basile van Havre (Canada) and overseen by the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties.
The Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework (video)
Florida’s Remarkable New Wildlife Corridor from the Panhandle to the Keys
The state has created a national model for how to safeguard threatened species for generations.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed into law a remarkable piece of environmental legislation that could become a model for the rest of the country. The project will establish the Florida Wildlife Corridor, a blueprint for the state to connect all of its large national and state parks with tracts of open land. The corridor, once complete, would create an unbroken swath of preserved land from the Alabama state line all the way to the Florida Keys, nearly eight hundred miles away. It would insure that a population of wildlife—whether it be black bears or panthers or gopher tortoises—would not be cut off from other groups of its species, which is one of the main drivers of extinction.
… One of the remarkable aspects of the Florida Wildlife Corridor is that it includes several privately-owned cattle ranches. One of them is called Blackbeard, located in the southern part of the state, in Manatee County. With five thousand acres, Blackbeard’s Ranch contains several ecosystems, including creeks, sloughs, and oak hammocks, and is home to myriad species, including panthers, black bears, and indigo snakes. The ranch is managed by Jim Strickland, whose family has been in the business since 1860. In 2018, the state bought the development rights to a third of Blackbeard’s Ranch, essentially preventing any future development. Unlike so many other similar parcels in Florida’s history, it’s a good bet that Blackbeard will never become a gated community or a golf course.
How Indigenous memories can help save species from extinction
From Canada to the Amazon, scientists are trying to build on Native knowledge before it’s too late.
By Karen Pinchin
(Vox) Around the world, the memories of elders…are playing a powerful role in understanding and helping to preserve marine species. A growing group of researchers, some of them from within Indigenous communities, is translating the qualitative stories of fishermen into quantitative data, in a process that often requires sensitive negotiations and uncomfortable conversations between Indigenous leaders and Western institutions. Their recollections can help fill historical and geographical gaps that have eluded scientists until now.
Monday, 14 June, 2021 – Thursday, 24 June, 2021
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established by States to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. It is not a United Nations body. However, …the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides secretariat services to IPBES.
A Covid-Era Lesson on Making Roads Safer For Wildlife
The empty highways of the pandemic revealed how dangerous traffic is for deer, moose, cougars and coyotes. Now Congress is proposing unprecedented funds for animal crossings that make roads less lethal.
(Bloomberg CityLab) Not all species benefited from this “anthropause”: Poaching and deforestation also took off during lockdowns. But in the U.S., shelter-in-place orders likely saved millions of animal lives, in “what could be among the largest conservation actions ever taken in the U.S. since the formation of the National Park System.” That’s according to a recent study published in Biological Conservation. … While the study only accounts for large mammals whose vehicle-collision deaths get reported by state agencies, past research has estimated that 1 million vertebrates are killed every day on U.S. roads and highways. That means potentially tens of millions of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals avoided death during that first month of lockdown
UN: Don’t forget to save species while fixing global warming
By SETH BORENSTEIN and CHRISTINA LARSON
(AP) To save the planet, the world needs to tackle the crises of climate change and species loss together, taking measures that fix both and not just one, United Nations scientists said.
A joint report Thursday by separate U.N. scientific bodies that look at climate change and biodiversity loss found there are ways to simultaneously attack the two global problems, but some fixes to warming could accelerate extinctions of plants and animals.
For example, measures such as expansion of bioenergy crops like corn, or efforts to pull carbon dioxide from the air and bury it, could use so much land — twice the size of India — that the impact would be “fairly catastrophic on biodiversity,” said co-author and biologist Almut Arneth at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.
26-28 April 2021
Our Planet, Our Future
The first Nobel Prize Summit brought together Nobel Prize laureates, scientists, policy makers, business leaders, and youth leaders to explore the question: What can be achieved in this decade to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, more prosperous future for all of humanity?
Across three days, the virtual event combined keynotes and lively discussion with live performance and theatre. Speakers explored solutions to some of humanity’s greatest challenges: climate change and biodiversity loss, increasing inequality, and technological innovation in support of societal goals.
Read the call for action produced from the summit: “Our Planet, Our Future. An Urgent Call for Action.”
People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years
(Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) The current biodiversity crisis is often depicted as a struggle to preserve untouched habitats. Here, we combine global maps of human populations and land use over the past 12,000 y with current biodiversity data to show that nearly three quarters of terrestrial nature has long been shaped by diverse histories of human habitation and use by Indigenous and traditional peoples. With rare exceptions, current biodiversity losses are caused not by human conversion or degradation of untouched ecosystems, but rather by the appropriation, colonization, and intensification of use in lands inhabited and used by prior societies. Global land use history confirms that empowering the environmental stewardship of Indigenous peoples and local communities will be critical to conserving biodiversity across the planet.
Earth’s most beloved creatures headed toward extinction under current emissions, study shows
(CBS) In a study published Friday in the journal Biological Conservation, scientists warn that some of the richest concentrations of plants and animals on Earth will be “irreversibly ravaged” by global warming unless countries make a real effort toward their goals made under the . They report a high danger for extinction in almost 300 biodiversity “hot spots” if temperatures rise three degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Endemism increases species’ climate change risk in areas of global biodiversity importance
(Science Direct) Climate change affects life at global scales and across systems but is of special concern in areas that are disproportionately rich in biological diversity and uniqueness. Using a meta-analytical approach, we analysed >8000 risk projections of the projected impact of climate change on 273 areas of exceptional biodiversity, including terrestrial and marine environments.
Current Emissions Put the World on Track for Biodiversity Collapse
A third of endemic species on land and half in the sea will become extinct if greenhouse gas emissions are not reined in
(Bloomberg Green) The lemurs of Madagascar and Himalayan snow leopards are among the hundreds of endemic species that will all but disappear if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked.
The plants and animals that are unique to a single location such as one island or one country, are particularly vulnerable to climate change, according to research by a global team of scientists published in the Biological Conservation journal on Friday. They’re almost three times more likely to go extinct, according to an analysis of almost 300 biodiversity hotspots on land and sea.
Some 92% of all endemic species on land and 95% of those in the sea will shrink in numbers or even disappear under current emissions levels, which put the world on track to warm 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century from pre-industrial levels. On mountains, 84% of endemic plants and animals face extinction, while the percentage rises to 100% on islands.
The study also found that most will survive if warming remains at 1.5ºC or below 2ºC, the levels governments committed to in 2015 when they signed the Paris Agreement. Even at 1.5ºC, 2% of land and marine species will go extinct. If the world warms 2ºC, then 4% will disappear.
Making Peace With Nature
The first UNEP synthesis report is titled: “Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies”, and is based on evidence from global environmental assessments.
The analysis is anchored in current economic, social and ecological reality and framed by economics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By synthesizing the latest scientific findings from the global environmental assessments, the report communicates the current status of the world’s urgent issues and opportunities to solve them.
Ahead of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Inger Andersen launched the report during an online press briefing.
How creating wildlife crossings can help reindeer, bears – and even crabs
The renoducts are part of a growing number of wildlife bridges and underpasses around the world that aim to connect fractured habitats. On the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, underpasses have been used to shield jaguars from traffic. Natural canopy bridges in the Peruvian Amazon have helped porcupines, monkeys and kinkajous pass over natural gas pipelines. On Christmas Island, bridges have been built over roads to allow millions of red crabs to pass from the forest to the beaches on their annual migration.
The wildlife bridges help avert some of the billions of animal deaths that happen on the roads every year around the world and counteract unintended consequences of human infrastructure.
[Parks Canada] has overseen one of the most successful uses of wildlife bridges in the world in Banff national park, Alberta, installing seven overpasses and 41 underpasses on the section bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway. A 2014 study found that fencing off the road and installing wildlife passes had maintained high genetic diversity in black and grizzly bear populations. Benson credits the passes with a big fall in roadkill along the highway, also significantly reducing human mortality from animal collision.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature: United to Reverse Biodiversity Loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development.
United to Reverse Biodiversity Loss by 2030 for Sustainable Development
Political leaders participating in the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020, representing 94 countries from all regions, and the European Union, have committed to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. By doing so, these leaders are sending a united signal to step up global ambition and encourage others to match their collective ambition for nature, climate and people with the scale of the crisis at hand.
The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature is endorsed by Heads of State and Government from 94 countries from all regions, and the President of the European Commission for the European Union, representing over 2 billion people (a quarter of the world’s population) and 39% of global GDP.
Taking Action for Biodiversity
In October 2010, at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, governments agreed to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This plan provides an overarching framework on biodiversity, not only for the biodiversity-related conventions, but for the entire United Nations system and all other partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development.
The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity is aimed at implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The 3 objectives of the CBD are:
The conservation of biological diversity
The sustainable use of the components of biological diversity
The fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets provide an innovative and visionary approach that integrates biodiversity with social and economic drivers at the heart of the problem, and thus the key to the solution.
To build support and create momentum for this urgent task, the United Nations General Assembly at its 65th session declared the period 2011-2020 to be the “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, with a view to contributing to the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity for the period 2011-2020”,, and requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States, to lead the coordination of the activities of the Decade on behalf of the United Nations system, with the support of the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the secretariats of other biodiversity related-conventions and relevant United Nations funds, programmes and agencies, and invited Member States in a position to do so to contribute, on a voluntary basis, to the funding of the activities of the Decade. (Resolution 65/161).
Wildflower meadows to line England’s new roads in boost for biodiversity
Highways England scheme to encourage species-rich grasslands could create hundreds of miles of rare habitats after decades of loss
Nodding blue harebells, clusters of yellow kidney vetch and flashes of bird’s-foot-trefoil could soon become the norm on stretches of the road network in England with the infrastructure provider committing to the creation of biodiverse grasslands as standard on all new major schemes.
The UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s, and the move could create substantial areas of rare habitat along hundreds of miles of motorways and A-roads for pollinators such as bees, bats and birds.
Under the new low nutrient grasslands policy, Highways England contractors will be obliged to create conditions for species-rich grasslands to thrive using low fertility soils with chalk and limestone bases. The verges will then be allowed to regenerate naturally or be seeded with wildflowers.
This pioneering British ‘wildland’ estate could boost biodiversity and yields
(WEF) From longhorn cattle to Exmoor ponies, deer and Tamworth pigs, for 16 years the Knepp Wildland Project (on the Knepp estate in UK county West Sussex) has been home to grazing animals that are helping to boost biodiversity while also providing sustainable, high-quality meat.
Not only are herds of animals roaming free, the project has brought solutions to some of the natural world’s most pressing problems: from soil restoration and flood mitigation to water and air purification, pollinating insects and carbon sequestration.
Wildland farming can be an effective, low-cost method of ecological restoration.
Rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding at Knepp, and populations of more common species are rocketing.
Only the surplus of animals that the land cannot sustain are harvested, there’s no soil degradation from intensive farming practices and the amount of carbon locked in the soil is increasing. Knepp could be used as a prototype for rewilding abandoned and over-farmed land. (October 2019)
Vast majority of Europe’s key habitats in poor or bad condition – report
State of Nature in the EU survey finds only a quarter of species have good conservation status
(The Guardian) Only a quarter of Europe’s species are rated as having a good conservation status, while 80% of key habitats are rated as being in poor or bad condition across the continent, in the State of Nature in the EU 2013-2018 assessment by the European Environment Agency.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries, said: “[This] shows very clearly that we are still losing our vital life support system. We urgently need to deliver on the commitments in the new EU biodiversity strategy to reverse this decline for the benefit of nature, people, climate and the economy.”
Much of the blame for the poor condition of Europe’s natural environment lies with intensive farming. The EU’s common agricultural policy (CAP) tends to reward intensive farming, despite moves to reward farmers for some measures that prioritise the environment.
David Attenborough leads call for world to invest $500 billion a year to protect nature
(WEF) British broadcaster Sir David Attenborough on Wednesday led a campaign by conservation groups for the world to invest $500 billion a year to halt the destruction of nature, saying the future of the planet was in “grave jeopardy”.
Attenborough, whose new film “A Life on Our Planet” documents the dangers posed by climate change and the extinction of species, made his statement as the United Nations convened a one-day summit aimed at galvanising action to protect wildlife.
Trudeau urges largest countries in the world to support UN biodiversity plan
(CTV) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on countries with the largest land mass to do more to protect the biodiversity of their land and water.
Trudeau made that call today at a special session of the United Nations via video conference on the sidelines of the virtual General Assembly meeting.
Trudeau was taking part in the Leaders Event for Nature and People that also featured the leaders of Costa Rica and Norway.
The prime minister was pledging Canada’s support for a UN initiative that aims to protect 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030.
But Canada is the only country in the top-10 largest countries by land mass that has joined the initiative, Trudeau said.
Canada will be working with Indigenous Peoples as necessary partners because they “understand how important it is to be good stewards of these lands and these waters that sustain us,” Trudeau said.
Boris Johnson promises to protect 30% of UK’s land by 2030
An extra 400,000 hectares of English countryside will be protected to support the recovery of nature under plans announced by Boris Johnson.
The prime minister made the commitment at a virtual United Nations event.
He joined a global pledge from 65 leaders to reverse losses in the natural world by the same date.
A ‘Crossroads’ for Humanity: Earth’s Biodiversity Is Still Collapsing
Countries have made insufficient progress on international goals designed to halt a catastrophic slide, a new report found.
(NYT) The world is failing to address a catastrophic biodiversity collapse that not only threatens to wipe out beloved species and invaluable genetic diversity, but endangers humanity’s food supply, health and security, according to a sweeping United Nations report issued on Tuesday.
When governments act to protect and restore nature, the authors found, it works. But despite commitments made 10 years ago, nations have not come close to meeting the scale of the crisis, which continues to worsen because of unsustainable farming, overfishing, burning of fossil fuels and other activities.
“Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the report said.
It comes as the devastating consequences that can result from an unhealthy relationship with nature are on full display: A pandemic that very likely jumped from bats has upended life worldwide, and wildfires, worsened by climate change and land management policies, are ravaging the American West.
“These things are a sign of what is to come,” said David Cooper, an author of the report and the deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the global treaty underlying the assessment. “These things will only get worse if we don’t change course.”
The report looked at a decade of efforts by national governments. In 2010, after painstaking scientific work and arduous negotiation, almost every country in the world signed on to 20 goals under the convention to staunch the biodiversity hemorrhage. … The agreement, with a deadline of 2020 for the new goals, was a hard-won diplomatic triumph.
The report, which assesses progress on the 20 goals, has found that the world is doing far too little.
As with climate change, scientific alarms on biodiversity loss have gone largely unheeded as the problem intensifies.
Last year, an exhaustive international report concluded that humans had reshaped the natural world so drastically that one million species of animals and plants were at risk of extinction. This year, the World Economic Forum’s annual global risk report identified biodiversity loss, in addition to climate change, as one of the most urgent threats, saying that “human-driven nature and biodiversity loss is threatening life on our planet.” Last week, a respected index of animal life showed that, on average, the populations of almost 4,400 monitored mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish had declined by 68 percent since 1970.
Humans risk living in an empty world, warns UN biodiversity chief
Ahead of the World Economic Forum, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema urges governments to take definitive action on climate, deforestation and pollution
(The Guardian) Humanity will have given up on planet Earth if world leaders cannot reach an agreement this year to stop the mass extinction of wildlife and destruction of life-supporting ecosystems, the United Nation’s new biodiversity chief has warned.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, has implored governments to ensure 2020 is not just another “year of conferences” on the ongoing ecological destruction of the planet, urging countries to take definitive action on deforestation, pollution and the climate crisis.
The warning comes on the eve of the Davos World Economic Forum, where biodiversity loss has been highlighted as the third biggest risk to the world in terms of likelihood and severity this year, ahead of infectious diseases, terror attacks and interstate conflict.
The ongoing destruction of life-supporting ecosystems such as coral reefs and rainforests means humans risk living in an “empty world” with “catastrophic” consequences for society, according to Mrema, who is responsible for spearheading a Paris-style agreement for nature that will be negotiated this year.
Biodiversity Year in Review
From ground-breaking research to high-level political engagement, 2019 was a consequential year for biodiversity, and 2020 promises to be even more impactful. Here are some of the moments that made a difference this year and a sneak peak at the ‘super year’ ahead.
Climate change isn’t just about extreme weather. Entire ecosystems are collapsing.
(WaPo) As fires rage on land, a massive ecosystem just off California’s northern coast that has buoyed a thriving fishing industry has collapsed. It’s an example of a much larger, potentially more ominous climate change story: the ongoing collapse of our planet’s biodiversity.
The leafy sea canopies of the Pacific Ocean’s bull kelp forests are largely gone, as a new paper in the journal Nature lays out in terrifying detail. But just because this emergency is out of sight and under the waves doesn’t make it any less vital.
This catastrophe has played out in stages. First, the kelp forests were hit in 2014 with an abnormally intense marine heat wave — the longest on record. This created nutrient-poor conditions that suppressed the kelp’s spore production.
Then came a plague of purple sea urchins, which feed on kelp. Normally, urchin populations are kept at bay by their main predator, the sunflower sea star. But a disease that proliferates in warm temperatures wiped out the region’s starfish populations. Within a year of the disease being detected in 2014, most starfish disappeared, and the purple sea urchins multiplied 60-fold.
By the time the urchins were done with these green oceanic pastures — which stretched more than 200 miles along California’s coast — they had been reduced by more than 90 percent, throwing the ecosystem into disarray. Red abalone sea snails, which also eat kelp, starved en masse as the urchin populations exploded. Meanwhile, fish species that use the kelp as nurseries fled. Elsewhere on the Pacific Coast, fish-eating species such as bald eagles and harbor seals had to look for different sources of food.
… while wildlife populations are supposed to be resilient to shocks in their ecosystems, catastrophic events such as heat waves and major storms are happening on such large scales and so frequently that many species can’t recover. Scientists are already forecasting another major marine heat wave to hit the Pacific Coast this winter.
These disasters are happening everywhere: One of the largest emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica collapsed this year after a storm destroyed the sea ice its chicks depended upon. In the Mojave Desert, bird populations have plummeted as they have failed to cope with hotter and drier weather. Off the coast of Australia, back-to-back bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef led to a collapse of new corals last year, making the reef’s recovery less likely.
First meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
27 – 30 August 2019 – Nairobi, Kenya
What the Amazon fires mean for wild animals
For the thousands of mammal, reptile, amphibian, and bird species that live in the Amazon, the wildfires’ impact will come in two phases: one immediate, one long-term.
(National Geographic) The Amazon rainforest—home to one in 10 species on Earth—is on fire. As of last week, 9,000 wildfires were raging simultaneously across the vast rainforest of Brazil and spreading into Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru. The blazes, largely set intentionally to clear land for cattle ranching, farming, and logging, have been exacerbated by the dry season.
… The rainforest is so uniquely rich and diverse precisely because it doesn’t really burn, says [William Magnusson, a researcher specializing in biodiversity monitoring at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil]. While fires do sometimes happen naturally, they’re typically small in scale and burn low to the ground. And they’re quickly put out by rain.
“Basically, the Amazon hadn’t burnt in hundreds of thousands or millions of years,” says Magnusson. It’s not like in Australia, for instance, where eucalyptus would die out without regular fires, he says. The rainforest is not built for fire.
… Generally, in the midst of wildfire, [Mazeika Sullivan, associate professor at Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources] says, animals have very few choices. They can try to hide by burrowing or going into water, he says. They can be displaced. Or they can perish. In this situation, a lot of animals will die, from flames, heat from the flames, or smoke inhalation,
How might the fires’ aftermath affect species?
This is the second major blow. “Longer-term effects are likely to be more catastrophic,” says Sullivan. The entire ecosystem of the burning sections of rainforest will be altered. For example, the dense canopy of the Amazon rainforest largely blocks sunlight from reaching the ground. Fire opens up the canopy at a stroke, bringing in light and fundamentally changing the energy flow of the entire ecosystem. This can have cascading effects on the entire food chain, Sullivan says.
Surviving in a fundamentally transformed ecosystem would be a struggle for many species. Lots of amphibians, for instance, have textured, camouflaged skin that resembles the bark or leaves of a tree, allowing them to blend in. “Now, all of a sudden, the frogs are forced to be on a different background,” says Sullivan. “They become exposed.”
And many animals in the Amazon are specialists—species have evolved and adapted to thrive in niche habitats. Toucans, for instance, eat fruits that other animals can’t access—their long beaks help them reach into otherwise inaccessible crevices. Wildfire decimating the fruit the birds depend upon would likely plunge the local toucan population into crisis. Spider monkeys live high in the canopy to avoid competition below. “What happens when you lose the canopy?” Sullivan asks. “They’re forced into other areas with more competition.”
The only “winners” in burned forest are likely to be raptors and other predators, Sullivan says, as cleared-out landscapes could make hunting easier.
Wildlife summit votes down plan to allow sale of huge ivory stockpile
Some African nations at CITES conference argue sales would provide much-needed income
(The Guardian) About 50 elephants are still being poached every day to supply ivory traffickers and all countries agree the world’s largest land animal needs greater protection. But southern African nations, which have some of the largest elephant populations, want to allow more legal sales of ivory to fund conservation and community development. But 32 other African nations argue all trade in elephants must end, including the trophy hunting legal in some states.
… The Cites nations did, however, give new protection to the giraffe by voting to end the unregulated international trade in the animal’s parts.
There are fewer giraffes alive than elephants and their population has plunged by 40% since 1985 to just 97,500. However, this debate also exposed the same north-south divide in the continent. … eight southern African nations strongly opposed the new regulation of trade, arguing that giraffe numbers were increasing in their countries precisely because trophy hunting and selling parts provided incentives and funds for conservation.
But the proposal was passed when countries voted by 106 to 21.
The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again, albeit in a positive way? – On the 27th of this month it will be 66 years since the 2½ mile wide 388 square mile DMZ (that stretches 155 miles from coast to coast across the Korean Peninsula) was created. In the years since it has become a major nature preserve in which over 5,000 species of plants & animals have been identified, incl. over 100 that are protected because they are vulnerable-, near-threatened-, and/or endangered, incl. the Siberian musk deer, white caped-, & red-crowned-, cranes, Asiatic black bears, cinerous vultures & long-tailed gorals (a goat species). And, with the political justification for its existence likely to diminish over time, the South Korean government is making moves, with some input from the North, to have UNESCO name the entire DMZ a “Biosphere Reserve”. — Nick Rost van Tonningen Gleanings 815
The butterfly effect: what one species’ miraculous comeback can teach us
(The Guardian) The Duke of Burgundy is back from the brink – and the work to conserve it has helped other declining species. Does this mean there is hope in the face of Insectageddon?
“This is a species that has come back from the brink,” says Dan Hoare of Butterfly Conservation. “We’ve halted the slide towards extinction and in some landscapes it is genuinely marching back across the landscape. That’s a real cause for celebration.” Hoare, the director of UK conservation at this small charity, headed a programme to halt the species’ extinction in Britain. The duke’s caterpillars eat common wildflowers, cowslips or primroses, but the butterfly is oddly fussy: it doesn’t like the open downs favoured by most warmth-loving butterflies, nor does it thrive in dense woodland. It requires lightly grazed grassland and scrub, or coppiced woodland.
Koalas Are Now “Functionally Extinct”
A report released by the Australian Koala Foundation says koala bears are now “functionally extinct,” which means their population has fallen below the point at which they can produce another generation of viable offspring.
There are no more than 80,000 of them left in the wild, according to the organization.
That’s down from 330,000 just three years ago.
The sharp decline is in most part due to habitat loss (deforestation of eucalyptus trees) and climate change (severe droughts and heat waves in recent years).
Schaefer: Solving the biodiversity crisis means changing our short-term psychology
“Curbing extinction is a long-term enterprise. Success is typically measured in decades, often beyond individual human careers and lifetimes. And therein lies the problem.”
(Montreal Gazette) The disappearance of species, we know, is the only human impact that is truly irreversible. Extinction is eternal.
And there’s the clue to the crisis: Time. In our hurried society, what often passes as success are short-term achievements — higher yields and higher profits, with a focus on the next quarter, next year, or next election. Eternity, you might say, requires a longer view.
Robert Watson: Loss of biodiversity is just as catastrophic as climate change
Nature is being eroded at rates unprecedented in human history but we still have time to stave off mass extinctions
One million species face extinction, U.N. report says. And humans will suffer as a result.
In a prepared statement, Robert Watson, a British chemist who served as the panel’s chairman, said the decline in biodiversity is eroding “the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
Up to 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, according to a United Nations report released Monday.
The report’s findings underscore the conclusions of previous scientific studies that say human activity is wreaking havoc on the wild kingdom, threatening the existence of living things ranging from giant whales to small flowers and insects that are almost impossible to see with the naked eye.
But the global report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services goes a step further than previous studies by linking the loss of species to humans and analyzing its effect on food and water security, farming and economies.
Highlights of UN IPBES report on species loss: Damage isn’t permanent, as long as we remedy it soon, dramatically
Photographer And His Wife Plant 2 Million Trees In 20 Years To Restore A Destroyed Forest And Even The Animals Have Returned
(Bored Panda) According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, 129 million hectares of forest, an area almost equivalent in size to South Africa, have been lost from the Earth forever since 1990. An area roughly the size of the country of Panama is being lost each and every year.
With some 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, and countless species of plants and animals losing their habitats every single day, these are absolutely devastating figures for the health of our planet, and it simply cannot be allowed to continue.
…. Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia Deluiz Wanick Salgado decided to show what a small group of passionate, dedicated people can do by turning deforestation on its head, and begin the process of reforestation.
To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a ‘Global Deal for Nature’
By Greg Asner, Director, Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science and Professor, Arizona State University
(WEF) Today nature is suffering accelerating losses so great that many scientists say a sixth mass extinction is underway. Unlike past mass extinctions, this event is driven by human actions that are dismantling and disrupting natural ecosystems and changing Earth’s climate.
My research focuses on ecosystems and climate change from regional to global scales. In a new study titled “A Global Deal for Nature,” led by conservation biologist and strategist Eric Dinerstein, 17 colleagues and I lay out a road map for simultaneously averting a sixth mass extinction and reducing climate change.
We chart a course for immediately protecting at least 30% of Earth’s surface to put the brakes on rapid biodiversity loss, and then add another 20% comprising ecosystems that can suck disproportionately large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. In our view, biodiversity loss and climate change must be addressed as one interconnected problem with linked solutions.
Harrison Ford Calls For Environmental Action At First-Ever Nature Champions Summit In Montreal
Harrison Ford was among the speakers at the first-ever Nature Champions Summit in Montreal on Thursday.
Sponsored by Environment and Climate Change Canada, the event aims to “bring together major philanthropists, business leaders, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, Indigenous leaders and environment ministers from around the world to build a high-ambition coalition and drive global nature protection forward.”
The Earth Is Just as Alive as You Are
(NYT) Scientists once ridiculed the idea of a living planet. Not anymore.
Every year the nearly 400 billion trees in the Amazon rain forest and all the creatures that depend on them are drenched in seven feet of rain — four times the annual rainfall in London. This deluge is partly due to geographical serendipity. Intense equatorial sunlight speeds the evaporation of water from sea and land to sky, trade winds bring moisture from the ocean, and bordering mountains force incoming air to rise, cool and condense. Rain forests happen where it happens to rain.
But that’s only half the story. Life in the Amazon does not simply receive rain — it summons it. All of that lush vegetation releases 20 billion tons of water vapor into the sky every day. Trees saturate the air with gaseous compounds and salts. Fungi exhale plumes of spores. The wind sweeps bacteria, pollen, leaf fragments and bits of insect shells into the atmosphere. The wet breath of the forest, peppered with microbes and organic residues, creates ideal conditions for rain. With so much water in the air and so many minute particles on which the water can condense, rain clouds quickly form.
The Amazon sustains much more than itself, however. Forests are vital pumps of Earth’s circulatory system. All of the water that gushes upward from the Amazon forms an enormous flying river, which brings precipitation to farms and cities throughout South America. Some scientists have concluded that through long-range atmospheric ripple effects the Amazon contributes to rainfall in places as far away as Canada.
The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change
A three-year UN-backed study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has grim implications for the future of humanity.
(HuffPost) Nature is in freefall and the planet’s support systems are so stretched that we face widespread species extinctions and mass human migration unless urgent action is taken. That’s the warning hundreds of scientists are preparing to give, and it’s stark.
The last year has seen a slew of brutal and terrifying warnings about the threat climate change poses to life. Far less talked about but just as dangerous, if not more so, is the rapid decline of the natural world. The felling of forests, the over-exploitation of seas and soils, and the pollution of air and water are together driving the living world to the brink, according to a huge three-year, U.N.-backed landmark study to be published in May. The study from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform On Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), expected to run to over 8,000 pages, is being compiled by more than 500 experts in 50 countries. It is the greatest attempt yet to assess the state of life on Earth and will show how tens of thousands of species are at high risk of extinction, how countries are using nature at a rate that far exceeds its ability to renew itself, and how nature’s ability to contribute food and fresh water to a growing human population is being compromised in every region on earth.
“There are no magic bullets or one-size-fits-all answers. The best options are found in better governance, putting biodiversity concerns into the heart of farming and energy policies, the application of scientific knowledge and technology, and increased awareness and behavioral changes,” [Sir Robert Watson, overall chair of the study] said.
IPBES to Launch First Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Since 2005: A Primer
In May 2019, representatives of 130 Governments will be presented, for discussion and possible approval, with a definitive new global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people–the first such report since the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2005, and the first ever that is intergovernmental.
Butterflies were symbols of rebirth. Then they started disappearing.
For thousands of years, humans have looked to butterflies as a reassuring symbol in times of change. The Earth now is changing, and butterflies have become a symbol of something else: loss
(WaPost) The climate had brought humans and butterflies into coexistence in the Western Hemisphere, but it was not done changing, because neither were humans.
Recently, they began to notice something happening with butterflies: They seemed to be disappearing.
Insects are the linchpin of ecosystems, and 40 percent of insect species are in dramatic decline, according to study publishing next month in the journal Biological Conservation. Butterflies are among the most imperiled, and monarchs are the butterfly that people most recognize. The eastern population of monarchs — the one that winters in Mexico and summers across the United States — rebounded this year, but it is a third the size of the 1996 count. The overall trend is downward.
Each day there are fewer butterflies in the United States than the day before, says the molecular biologist Jeffrey Glassberg, founder of the North American Butterfly Association.
Mega-experiment shows species interactions stronger towards tropics and lowlands
Huge field experiment is providing the best evidence yet in support of a key Darwinian theory — that interactions between species are stronger toward the tropics and lower elevations.
(McGill Reporter) An international research team led by a McGill researcher used a simple experiment that mimics how plants and animals interact with each other – leaving seeds out for 24 hours to see how many get eaten. Seven thousand seed beds were deployed across a huge geographic scale, with 70 sites cutting across 18 mountains from Alaska to the equator.
“Theory predicts that interactions among species – like predation and competition – will be strongest in the warm, productive, biodiverse ecosystems of the tropics and low elevations,” says lead author Anna Hargreaves, an evolutionary ecologist in the Department of Biology. “For example, the spectacular diversity of tropical trees is thought to result partly from stronger interactions between plants and the animals that prey on their seeds, which shapes how and where plants grow and adapt,” adds Hargreaves, who launched the project while at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Biodiversity Research Centre.
Until recently, however, evidence for this key ecological theory was inconclusive and came from small-scale studies that used different methods.