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Wildlife Trade Specialists

Published 30th April 2010

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World governments fail to deliver on 2010 biodiversity target

Cambridge, UK, 30th April 2010—World leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 through the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines, according to a paper just published in the journal Science


Indicators developed by TRAFFIC and IUCN were used to monitor trends in the status of wildlife species used for food and medicine. © TRAFFIC  

In the first assessment of progress made towards achieving the 2010 target, scientists from a wide range of institutions examined data from over 30 indicators of biodiversity – such as changes in species’ populations and risk of extinction, habitat extent and community composition – but found no evidence for a significant reduction in the rate of decline. 

“Our analysis shows that governments have failed to deliver on the commitments they made in 2002: biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever, and we have made little headway in reducing the pressures on species, habitats and ecosystems”, said Dr Stuart Butchart, of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and BirdLife International, and the paper’s lead author.

“2010 will not be the year that biodiversity loss was halted, but it needs to be the year in which we start taking the issue seriously and substantially increase our efforts to take care of what is left of our planet.”

The indicators included in the study were developed and synthesized through the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership – a collaboration of over 40 international organizations and agencies developing global biodiversity indicators and the leading source of information on trends in global biodiversity.

They included indicators developed by TRAFFIC and IUCN to monitor trends in the status of species used for food and medicine. These showed that birds and mammals used for these purposes are generally more threatened than those that are not. This may be due to over-exploitation or for other reasons such as habitat loss, or a combination of factors. 

“Regardless of the causes, the diminishing availability of wildlife resources threatens the health and well-being of the people who depend on them directly for food and medicine and on their wild harvest as a source of income,” said Thomasina Oldfield, Research and Analysis Programme Leader for TRAFFIC and a co-author of the Science paper. 

There needs to be urgent action to tackle the world’s biodiversity crisis, coupled with sustained investment in coherent monitoring and use of indicators to track and improve the effectiveness of any responses.

The results from the latest study will feed into Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, the flagship publication of the CBD, to be released in Nairobi on May 10th, when government representatives from around the world will meet to discuss the 2010 target and how to address the biodiversity crisis. 

“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,” said Butchart


Notes:

Journal article: Butchart S. et al. (2010) “Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines” Science.
Copies of the Science paper may be received from the AAAS Office of Public Programs. Tel.: +1-202-326-6440; E-mail: Enable JavaScript to view protected content.

The coauthors represent the following institutions: United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, BirdLife International, Institute of Zoology (Zoological Society of London), Statistics Netherlands, The University of North Carolina, IUCN, Conservation International, United Nations Environment Programme Global Environment Monitoring System, IUCN Species Survival Commission, IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Global Footprint Network, University of Virginia, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research Environment – ISPRA, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, European Bird Census Council, University of Queensland, University of Cambridge, National Center for Atmospheric Research, WWF International, Centre for Invasion Biology and Cape Research Centre (South African National Parks), UNESCO, TRAFFIC International, University of British Columbia, National Centre for Biological Sciences (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), The Nature Conservancy, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, American Bird Conservancy, Stellenbosch University, University of Bath, and the Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort.