11 May 2010

Global Biodiversity Outlook and our marinelife

The report card on global biodiversity is out. And we all pretty much failed.
Threatened plant and animal species, Asia and the Pacific, 2008 (Statistics Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) From "State of Biodiversity in Asia and the Pacific" (pdf)

But the failure in our part of the world is particularly critical. Why is this so?

Here are some highlights from "State of Biodiversity in Asia and the Pacific" (pdf)
Asia and the Pacific encompasses some of the world’s greatest biological, cultural and economic diversity. It covers 8.6% of the Earth’s total surface area and nearly 30% of its land area. It is also host to certain wildlife species unique to the region.

This region is also home to approximately 4 billion people, representing some 60% of the world’s population. In 2008 Asia and the Pacific recorded the world’s highest number of threatened species. Many of the most serious problems are to be found in South-East Asia, where 6 of the 10 countries in the region with the highest numbers of threatened animal and plant species are to be found. In all, 13 of the 34 biodiversity hotspots designated by Conservation International are also to be found in this area.
The issues are particularly worrisome for marine ecosystems:
Coastal ecosystems in Asia and the Pacific contain a large proportion of the world’s remaining mangrove forests and coral reefs; both systems continue, however, to suffer from various direct and indirect pressures.

Mangroves are notably, although not exclusively, affected by shrimp farming and other forms of mariculture: this is a matter of particular concern since this is the only region in the world in which the rate of loss of mangrove forests has not slowed in recent years.

Meanwhile, the region’s coral reef system, which includes the world’s two largest coral formations (the Great Barrier Reef and the New Caledonia Barrier Reef) and has the highest level of coral diversity in the world, has seen its extent of coral cover decline from 40% in the early 1980s to approximately 20% by 2003, partly owing to global-scale stressors such as climate change.

Where marine protected areas are concerned, the area designated as legally protected in 2007 constituted less that 5% of the region’s territorial waters.
Ratio of protected marine areas to territorial water, 1990–2008 (Statistics Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific)

But there is hope.
Encouraging signs of progress have been observed. 87% of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity have developed national biodiversity strategies and action plans. (Including Singapore! Here's about about Singapore's National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan)

Since 2002, 739 additional sites were added to the list of what are known as “Ramsar sites” under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, 143 of which were from Asia and the Pacific.

Another noteworthy achievement is the 10-year action plan agreed upon in 2009 by Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, to implement the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security. This covers 6 million square kilometres of ocean and will support marine-based industries and livelihoods necessary for food security while ensuring the conservation of the area.
More about the Global Biodiversity Outlook on the Celebrating Singapore's Biodiversity blog.

You CAN make a difference for our biodiversity!
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