Biodiversity-rich rainforests make way for palm oil plantations in Malaysian Borneo. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Although negotiations came down to the wire, nations finally brokered a new deal at the 11th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India; at its heart is a pledge to double resources from wealthier countries to the developing world by 2015 to conserve embattled species and ecosystems. While no numbers were put on the table, observers say a doubling of current resources would mean around $10-12 billion a year. However, this amount is still far short of what scientists and conservation groups say is necessary to stem current extinctions.
“Countries have sent a clear signal and delivered additional commitments underlining the fact that biodiversity and ecosystems are a development priority and central to a transition to an inclusive Green Economy,” Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and director of the Environment Programme Executive, said in a statement.
While developed countries agreed to double funding (from a baseline of funding from 2006-2010) for biodiversity—but refused to set a definite number—developing countries also pledged to provide more resources for biodiversity protection at home. To that end, host nation, India, pledged around $50 million for its own biodiversity protection efforts. Three-quarters of developing nations are also expected to integrate biodiversity conservation into the their national agendas, while the least-developed countries were exempt.
Still, the funding agreed on fell far short of what experts say is necessary to preserve biodiversity in an age of ever-growing ecological damage. A recent study estimated that to conserve all of the world’s endangered species, as categorized by the IUCN Red List, would require around $4 billion a year. In addition another $75 billion would be required annually to effectively manage and expand the world’s protected areas, as proposed by the CBD goals.
“We do have concerns about what the investment levels will actually be and whether or not they will be sufficient given the scale of resources needed to protecting Earth’s biodiversity,” Lina Barrera, Director of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Policy at Conservation International (CI), said in a statement. “The total required is in the order of hundreds of billions of dollars, but we estimate that, from public sources, it will require only average annual increases of US$12 billion in international aid and US$ 48 billion in domestic budgets from all countries for biodiversity between now and 2020.”
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) was less optimistic. Calling the end result “disappointing,” Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Conservation for WWF International, said funding was “not nearly enough money to reach the ambitious targets to protect biodiversity the world set two years ago in Nagoya.”
WWF estimates that $200 billion annually would be required to meet all twenty of the CBD goals for 2020, including eliminating harmful subsidies, halving the rate of ecosystem destruction, sustainably managing fisheries, increasing protected areas, restoring 15 percent of the world’s degraded ecosystems, and conserving known endangered species among others.
Notably, the United States is one of only a handful of countries (also Andorra and the Holy See) that are not member of the CBD. By not ratifying the treaty, the U.S. has only observer status at meetings.
(10/18/2012) 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.
(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.