A black buck in Mahavir Harini Vanasthali National Park near Hyderabad, India. The black buck is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss and poaching remain threats even as the black buck recovers from historical lows in the 1970s. Photo by: Pranav Yaddanapudi.
The Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh, pledged around $50 million (Rs. 264 crore) for domestic biodiversity protection, reports the Hindu. The pledge came this week at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Hyderabad, India. The CBD has set bold goals on stemming the rate of extinction worldwide, but these have suffered from a lack of funding. India also said it had set aside another $10 million (Rs. 50 crore) for biodiversity projects abroad. Still, such funds are far below what scientists say is necessary to stem ongoing extinctions.
“This 50 million dollar pledge for biodiversity is a welcome show of leadership from one of the world’s fastest growing—and biologically rich—counties,” commented Lasse Gustavsson, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International Executive Director of Conservation. “It’s now up to other countries to make similar commitments and show the world how serious they are about protecting our planet’s natural wealth.”
Reportedly, the British government has also pledged $1.6 million (one million pounds) for the effort.
However, a recent study in Science estimated that such sums are by far too small to deal with the looming threat of mass extinction. According to the scientists conserving all of the species deemed threatened by the IUCN Red List would cost around $4 billion a year, 2,500 times more than Britain’s pledge. In addition, another $75 billion would be needed annually to adequately manage the world’s protected areas and meet CBD goals on increasing their extent on land and in the sea. India’s pledge is less than one tenth of one percent of the total estimated $80 billion a year.
Meanwhile, India’s Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, released scientist’s figures that to meet all of CBD’s goals $150-440 billion would be required, making both India’s and Britain’s pledges look diminutive.
India faced criticism during the meeting for its own loss of biodiversity. Greenpeace members called on the Indian government to stop destroying forests for coal mining, which has injured biodiversity and forced the eviction of locals. The activist group estimated that 1.1 million hectares of forest were imperiled by just 13 proposed mines.
Biodiversity provides crucial “ecosystem services,” i.e. natural benefits to humankind that have long gone unrecognized by the global economy. Such services include pollination, carbon sequestration, soil erosion mitigation, seed dispersal, coastal protection, and water purification among many others.
The CBD is now asking for more ‘Biodiversity Champions’ to pledge funds for conservation. To date the only pledge listed on the CBD website is that made by the Indian government.
Only around 300 great Indian bustards survive (Ardeotis nigriceps). Illustration by: Henrik Grönvold.
(10/11/2012) If the world is to conserve its wealth of life—species great and small, beautiful and terrible, beloved and unknown—it will cost from $3.41-4.76 billion annually in targeted conservation funds, according to a new study in Science. But that’s not all, the cost of protecting and managing the world’s conservation areas was estimated at an additional $76.1 billion a year.
(09/13/2012) Agroforests contain much higher levels of bird diversity than their open agricultural counterparts, according to new research from the University of Utah. If large forests and agroforests continue to be replaced by simple open farms, bird communities will become much less specialized and entire groups may become extinct. Important roles for birds, such as pollination, pest control or seed dispersal, may remain unfilled if ongoing trends toward open agriculture continues and biodiversity decreases.
(09/10/2012) From the Baishan fir (five left in the world) to the Sumatran rhino (around 250), a new report highlights the world’s top 100 most endangered species, according to the the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). The list spans the taxonomic gamut, from fungi (Cryptomyces maximus) to amphibians (the Table Mountain ghost frog) to flowers (the Cayman Islands ghost orchid) and much more (see full list at the end of the article).
(08/28/2012) A new study in Biology Letters demonstrates that altering the relationship between a predator and its prey can cause wide-ranging ripple effects through an ecosystem, including unexpected extinctions. Species help each other, directly or indirectly, which scientists refer to as mutualism or commensalism. For example, a species’ success may rely not only upon the survival of its food source, but may also indirectly rely upon the survival of more distantly related species.
(08/20/2012) A massive expert panel report on the conservation of the Western Ghats has caused a political stir in India. The report, headed by noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil, recommends that the government phase out mining projects, cancel damaging hydroelectric projects, and move toward organic agriculture in ecologically-sensitive sections of the Ghats. The report, which was leaked after the government refused to release it, has yet to be implemented. Recently dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Western Ghats is one of India’s largest wildernesses and home to thousands of species, many found no-where else.
(08/14/2012) Since 1898 North America has lost at least 39 species of freshwater fish, according to a new study in Bioscience, and an additional 18 subspecies. Moreover, the loss of freshwater fish on the continent seems to be increasing, as the rate jumped by 25 percent since 1989, though even this data may be low.
(07/25/2012) Governments have set up protected areas, in part, to act as reservoirs for our Earth’s stunning biodiversity; no where is this more true than in the world’s tropical forests, which contain around half of our planet’s species. However a new study in Nature finds that wildlife in many of the world’s rainforest parks remains imperiled by human pressures both inside and outside the reserves, threatening to undercut global conservation efforts. Looking at a representative 60 protected areas across 36 tropical nations, the scientists found that about half the parks suffered an “erosion of biodiversity” over the last 20-30 years.