Background: World leaders have failed to deliver commitments made in 2002 to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, and have instead overseen alarming biodiversity declines. These findings are the result of a new paper published in the journal Science and represent the first comprehensive assessment of how the targets made through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity have not been met.
The study used more than 30 indicators, measuring different aspects of biodiversity, including species’ populations and risk of extinction, habitat extent and community composition. The indicators included in the study were developed through the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, a collaboration of more than 40 international organizations and agencies, including IUCN. The results form part of the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, the flagship publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be released on May 10th in Nairobi, when government representatives from around the world meet to discuss the 2010 target and how to address the biodiversity crisis.
• “We can no longer use the excuse that we don’t know enough about the loss of diversity of life on our planet. Last year the analysis of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ showed that biodiversity was still declining at an alarming rate. This much broader study confirms those findings,” says Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of IUCN’s Species Programme and co-author of the Science paper. “The role of governments is paramount but the magnitude and rate of loss of biodiversity means that everyone, from individuals to businesses, must act now to save all life on earth before we reach breaking point.”
• “We now know that the 2010 target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss hasn’t been met. It can no longer be ‘business as usual’ without their being serious consequences for all life on earth,” says Simon Stuart, chair IUCN’s Species Survival Commission and co-author of the Science paper. “We need governments and all of society to understand that the biodiversity crisis is real and is happening now. World leaders faced the economic crisis head on. We need that same level of investment and commitment for the environment.”
For more information:
Journal article: Butchart S et al (2010) “Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines” Science
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About the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’.
The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is a joint effort between IUCN and its Species Survival Commission, working with its Red List partners BirdLife International, Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, NatureServe, and the Zoological Society of London.