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2010 Biodiversity Target

World Governments Fail to Deliver

World governments 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 leading journal ‘Science’ and represent the first assessment of how the targets made through the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have not been met.

Compiling over 30 indicators – measures of different aspects of biodiversity, including changes in species’ populations and risk of extinction, habitat extent and community composition – the study found no evidence for a significant reduction in the rate of decline of biodiversity, and that the pressures facing biodiversity continue to increase. The synthesis provides overwhelming evidence that the 2010 target has not been achieved.

“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. “Our data show that 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 synthesised through the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership – a collaboration of over 40 international organisations and agencies developing global biodiversity indicators and the leading source of information on trends in global biodiversity.

“Since 1970, we have reduced animal populations by 30%, the area of mangroves and sea grasses by 20% and the coverage of living corals by 40%”, said the United Nations Environment Programme’s Chief Scientist Prof Joseph Alcamo. “These losses are clearly unsustainable, since biodiversity makes a key contribution to human well-being and sustainable development, as recognised by the UN Millennium Development Goals.”

The results from this study 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 Dr Butchart.The study recognised there have been some important local or national successes in tackling biodiversity loss, including the designation of many protected areas (for example, the 20,000 square-km Juruena National Park, in Brazil), the recovery of particular species (for example, the European bison) and the prevention of some extinctions (for example, the black stilt of New Zealand).

But despite these encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity need to be substantially strengthened, and sustained investment in coherent global biodiversity monitoring and indicators is essential to track and improve the effectiveness of these responses.

“While many responses have been in the right direction, the relevant policies have been inadequately targeted, implemented and funded. Above all, biodiversity concerns must be integrated across all parts of government and business, and the economic value of biodiversity needs to be accounted for adequately in decision making. Only then will we be able to address the problem”, said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity.What’s Happening in the Uk?

The RSPB believes there is now widespread acceptance that, in line with the rest of the world, the UK has also not halted biodiversity loss, although some progress has been made with certain key species.

Dr Richard Gregory of The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who co-authored the Science paper commented: "We all recognise that we have not met the target to halt biodiversity loss in the UK, despite our best efforts. We have seen some spectacular success stories where concerted conservation action has delivered fabulous results - for red kite, stone curlew, cirl bunting and bittern, to name a few birds in the UK. Yet the tide of change is against us and the loss of nature continues. We need a clear commitment from the next UK Government that biodiversity issues will be prioritised and addressed with adequate funding. We need targeted conservation action for species, habitats and landscapes to make a real difference.”

The trends of those species and habitats that are UK priorities for biodiversity conservation, under the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) have been assessed every three years. The last assessment in 2008 showed that:* 19 priority habitats (42%) were thought to be declining. (Of the other priority habitats 8 were thought to be increasing, 9 were stable, the trend was unknown or unclear for 8, and no report was available for 1).

* 88 priority species (24%) were thought to be declining and eight species have been lost from the UK since 1995. (Of the other priority species 40 were thought to increasing, 144 were stable, the trend was unknown or unclear for 70 species and no report was available for 24)

In the last decade targeted species recovery work has helped to turn around the fortunes of some of our most threatened species, including:* The stone-curlew population has increased from 254 pairs in 2000 to 359 pairs in 2009 due to species protection and green farming schemes.

* The cirl bunting population has increased from 114 pairs in 1989 to about 840 pairs in 2009 due to better management of its farmland habitat.

* The bittern has boomed from 11 calling males in 1997 to 82 in 2009 due to improved reedbed management and the creation of new habitat.

* The red kite population in the UK has doubled from about 650 pairs in 2003 to over 1300 pairs in 2009, due to population recovery in Wales and the success of re-introduced populations in England and Scotland.

In 2007 the UK priority species list was revised. The number of listed species increased from 579 to 1150. This was partly due to improved information, but partly it was because more species were declining. In 1999, 24 bird species were on the UK priority list due to severe decline (more than 50% in last 25 years) by 2007 this had increased to 32.

Dr Richard Gregory added: “We need more targeted species conservation action and more conservation action at a landscape scale if we are to meet the EU's new target of halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services by 2020.”

4th July 2014