Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In order to save biodiversity, society's behavior must change, leading conservationists warn

Date:
September 9, 2010
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Conservation scientists and practitioners have come together to advocate a fundamental shift in the way we view biodiversity. They argue that unless people recognize the link between their consumption choices and biodiversity loss, the diversity of life on Earth will continue to decline.

White rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) in the Masai Mara Kenya. Key pressures driving biodiversity loss are the degradation, fragmentation and destruction of habitats, pollution, overexploitation of species, invasive species and climate change.
Credit: iStockphoto

An innovative grouping of conservation scientists and practitioners have come together to advocate a fundamental shift in the way we view biodiversity. In their paper, which was published September 9 in the journal Science, they argue that unless people recognise the link between their consumption choices and biodiversity loss, the diversity of life on Earth will continue to decline.

Dr Mike Rands, Director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and lead author of the paper, said: "Despite increasing worldwide conservation efforts, biodiversity continues to decline. If we are to make any kind of impact, it is critical that that we begin to view biodiversity as a global public good which provides such benefits as clean air and fresh water, and that this view is integrated not just into policies but also into society and individuals' day-to-day decisions."

The conservationists, from conservation organisations as well as academia, recognise that biodiversity loss is typically the result of unintended human actions and therefore raises unique difficulties. They state, "The impacts of a particular action are often distant in space and time. This makes effective regulation difficult, as no single body has jurisdiction over the world's biodiversity."

As part of a solution, the authors advocate managing biodiversity as a global public good. They argue that an appreciation of biodiversity as a public good with economic and societal value, providing benefits that far outweigh the cost of conserving ecosystems, should be central to all policy making that impacts on the environment.

They believe it is essential that biodiversity not be considered in isolation as part of the nation's environmental agenda, but must extend across all sectors of government from treasury to defence. This is especially important as some of the policies that most damage biodiversity, such as agricultural, transport and energy subsidies, are not overseen by most governments' environmental regulators.

Internationally, they stress the need for greater support to conservation efforts in developing countries that are rich in biodiversity, including the crucial task of building institutional capacity (the strengthening of the institution through improved regulations, governance and organisational support)

They advocate for economists and conservationists to work more closely together with policy makers to develop strategies that use incentives and regulations to shift individuals, governments, businesses and civil society toward more biodiversity-friendly behaviour.

Dr Rands continued: "Valuing biodiversity is vital to changing the way we view this important resource. Because we have received the benefits of biodiversity for free, we take it for granted. The costs of conserving biodiversity are massively outweighed by the benefits. As the United Nations General Assembly meets for a special session to discuss biodiversity, this is an especially timely and important message for world leaders to take on board.

"It is critical we incorporate the view of biodiversity as natural capital into management decisions and, more importantly, public policies which reward positive individual actions and penalize negative ones."

The paper emphasises this point, stating, "The value of biodiversity must be made an integral element of social, economic and political decision-making, as is starting to happen with carbon and climate change. Government, businesses, and civil society all have crucial roles in this transition."

Currently, the key pressures driving biodiversity loss are the degradation, fragmentation and destruction of habitats, pollution, overexploitation of species, invasive species and climate change.

As these pressures on biodiversity increase, the number of species faced with extinction continues to rise, with 21 per cent of all known mammals, 30 per cent of all known amphibians, and 12 per cent of all known birds* under threat. Additionally, nearly a quarter of plant species are believed to be at risk.**

*According to the 2009 IUCN Red List **According to Global Biodiversity Outlook 3


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rands MRW, Adams WM, Bennun L, Butchart SHM, Clements A, Coomes D, Entwistle A, Hodge I, Kapos V, Scharlemann JPW, Sutherland WJ & Vira B. Biodiversity Conservation: Challenges Beyond 2010. Science, 10 September 2010 DOI: 10.1126/science.1189138

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "In order to save biodiversity, society's behavior must change, leading conservationists warn." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909141527.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2010, September 9). In order to save biodiversity, society's behavior must change, leading conservationists warn. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909141527.htm
University of Cambridge. "In order to save biodiversity, society's behavior must change, leading conservationists warn." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909141527.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins