Extinction crisis shows urgent need for action to protect biodiversity
A third of the world's amphibians, a fifth of all mammals and 70 per cent of all plants are under threat, according to the latest Red List published just two months before the world marks the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.
3 November 2009 - A third of the world's amphibians, a fifth of all mammals and 70 per cent of all plants are under threat, according to the latest Red List published just two months before the world marks the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.
The report, released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is an urgent reminder that the world is still far from stemming the worldwide tide of extinction.
IUCN's Red List, published since 1963, provides an annual snapshot of the conservation status of species and subspecies on a global scale - highlighting those threatened with extinction and promoting their conservation.
The organization says that out of the 47,677 species it assessed for this year's Red List, 17,291 are threatened with extinction.
Among the report's other key findings:
More than 1,000 freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction, reflecting the strain on global water resources.
12 per cent of all known birds, 28 per cent of reptiles and 35 per cent of invertebrates are under threat.
Amphibians are the most threatened group of species known to date - 1,895 of the planet's 6,285 amphibians are in danger of extinction.
The critically endangered species include the Panay Monitor Lizard (pictured) from the Philippines, which is threatened by logging and habitat loss and is hunted by humans for food.
Some 114 plants are in the 'Extinct' or 'Extinct in the Wild' categories; endangered plants include the Queen of the Andes, which only produces seeds once in 80 years before dying.
Meanwhile the Kihansi Spray Toad from Tanzania is thought to be extinct in the wild, due to the construction of a dam which destroyed their habitat in the Kihansi Falls, removing 90 per cent of the water flow to the gorge.
"The scientific evidence of a serious extinction crisis is mounting," said Jane Smart, Director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group. "The latest analysis of the IUCN Red List shows the 2010 target to reduce biodiversity will not be met. It's time for Governments to start getting serious about saving species and make sure it's high on their agendas for next year, as we're rapidly running out of time."
Indeed, 2010 is the year by which the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity committed to achieving a "significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth".
The 2010 target has also been endorsed by the UN General Assembly and incorporated as a new target under the Millennium Development Goals.
The International Year of Biodiversity's key objectives will be to enhance public awareness of the threats to biodiversity; encourage individuals, organizations and governments to take the immediate steps needed to halt the loss of biodiversity; promote innovative solutions to reduce the threats to biodiversity; and start dialogue between stakeholders for the steps to be taken in the post-2010 period.
There is growing global consensus that strengthening the interrelations between science and policy at all levels is necessary to face the magnitude and complexity of the biodiversity challenge.
In early October, UNEP hosted intergovernmental negotiations on the establishment of a new international body to manage biodiversity and ecosystems, along the lines of the intergovernmental panel that catalyzed political action on the issue of climate change.
The suggested body, known as the Intergovernmental Panel or Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), is envisaged as a mechanism to provide governments and the broader development community with periodic, timely and policy-relevant scientific information in support of policy development and decision-making.
A final meeting, to be held in 2010, will determine the establishment of the mechanism. Visit: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=599&ArticleID=6340&l=en&t=long ]