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Where on earth is biodiversity?
03/ 08/ 2010

Where on earth is biodiversity?Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak in Africa, is renowned for its rich tableau of animal and plant life. But according to a new UNEP database, animal and plant species living on the 5,199 meter peak are globally threatened.

New biodiversity tool to encourage conservation-driven decision making

Cambridge (United Kingdom), 3 August 2010 - Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak in Africa, is renowned for its rich tableau of animal and plant life.

But according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) database, animal and plant species living on the 5,199 meter peak are globally threatened.

In collaboration with leading conservation organisations, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) has devised Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for governments, development banks and private sector organisations to access accurate and reliable information on biodiversity and critical natural habitats on a worldwide scale - to answer the seemingly simple question "Where on earth is biodiversity?"

Jon Hutton, Director of UNEP-WCMC said, "In the International Year of Biodiversity, IBAT proves a major stepping stone towards pushing conservation issues higher up the development agenda."

"Information generated by the tool can be factored into risk assessment reports and national or regional development strategies. It can also assist industries in implementing environmental safeguard policies and industry best practice standards," he added.

Presently, there is an overwhelming amount of information scattered across countless websites, publications and the broader scientific community, but no single, reliable, trusted place to retrieve this information.

However, in the case of IBAT, a family of web-enabled systems synthesise and interpret the most significant biodiversity information available for key decision-makers in the project planning stages when alternatives and changes are most economically viable.

Besides UNEP-WCMC, the IBAT Alliance comprises three other globally-respected international conservation organisations; BirdLife International, Conservation International (CI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) working on a shared programme of work in partnership with leading institutions from the public and private sectors.

These four organisations also represent some of the most established networks of national and regional environmental experts and organisations on the planet.

The IBAT Alliance represents an unprecedented step towards conservation data sharing and integration, enabling the private and public sectors to incorporate critical biodiversity information at key decision points in the planning and operation of development projects.

To achieve the broader vision of IBAT, the conservation partners are seeking to expand their collaboration to include additional partners from the private, public and community development sectors, particularly those organisations involved in implementing environmental safeguards and screening such as the multilateral development banks.

Notes to Editors:
Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) Alliance

The IBAT Alliance and programme of work represents an ambitious vision for improved collection, update and management of biodiversity data with the aim that decisions affecting critical natural habitats are informed by the best scientific information and in turn decision makers support the generation and maintenance of that scientific information.

To realise this vision, the IBAT Alliance is committed to an evolving collaboration between international conservation organisations and stakeholders in the private and public sectors such as businesses, multilateral development banks, government agencies, philanthropic foundations and other global, regional and national institutions.

The vision is currently being realized by an initial alliance of globally-respected conservation organisations - BirdLife International, Conservation International (CI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) - drawing on an extensive national network of organisations and experts.

UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)

UNEP-WCMC is collaboration between the United Nations Environment Programme, the world's foremost intergovernmental environmental organisation, and WCMC 2000, a UK-based charity. The UNEP-WCMC is an internationally recognised Centre of Excellence for the synthesis, analysis and dissemination of global biodiversity knowledge, providing authoritative, strategic and timely information for conventions, countries/territories, organisations and companies to use in the development and implementation of their policies and decisions.

BirdLife International (BirdLife)

BirdLife is a global partnership of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with a special focus on conservation and birds. Each NGO Partner represents a unique geographic territory, and BirdLife Partners operate in over one hundred countries and territories worldwide. The BirdLife Global Partnership has more than 4,000 staff working on conservation, over 2.5 million members worldwide and 10 million worldwide supporters. The BirdLife Global Partnership strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources;

Conservation International (CI)

Conservation International is a non-profit public benefit corporation organized under the laws of the State of California. Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity in over 40 countries;

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organisations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. It supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organisations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice; and

For more information, please contact: Maxwell Gomera, Deputy Director, UNEP-WCMC; Email: maxwell.gomera@unep-wcmc.org, Tel: + 44 (0) 1223 814617

Further Resources
Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT)
UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)
BirdLife International
Conservation International (CI)
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
UNEP: International Year of Biodiversity

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