2010 International Year of Biodiversity
The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity: "It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity is life, biodiversity is our life!"
In marking the International Year of Biodiversity, the United Nations Development Programme, in cooperation with its permanent partners, the Ministry of Culture and the State Institute for Nature Protection, and in partnership with the GEO magazine, is planning a number of actions in order to increase the level of awareness among the general public when it comes to the importance of preservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and in order to promote innovative solutions, such as the Green Business Support Programme, one of UNDP's COAST project activities.
Every month of the Biodiversity Year, we invite you to discover one of the most endangered plant and animal species, as well as various entrepreneurial practices that care about nature!
MOST ENDANGERED SPECIES
BIODIVERSITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
Articles are developped under the COAST project, which aims to actively transform the current practices of tourism, agriculture and fishery sectors along the Dalmatian coastline by placing focus on biodiversity and landscape conservation.
Biological diversity is our basic source for a number of goods, ranging from food, to medicine, to construction materials. The ecosystems of our planet also provide a number of irreplaceable services to us: air and clean water, soil restoration, pollination and climate regulation are just some of those benefits. Despite that, biodiversity is under threat. Due to human activity, the current pace of species extinction is 1000 times higher than the natural level. Last year, the Red List of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has shown that as many as 38 percent of the monitored species are facing danger of extinction. If the current extinction speed is to continue, it is believed that 1.3 billion hectares of the world's surface (or roughly 148 times the surface of Croatia) will lose its original level of biodiversity by the year 2050. Examples of the extinction of species are abundant, and one recent study indicates that hundreds of medicinal herb species, the natural ingredients of which constitute the essence of one half of synthetic medications, are facing extinction. Even today, due to overfishing, the sea fish stock is decreasing dramatically, and there is a possibility that the fish stock in general might collapse in the next 50 years if current practices continue, which would mean that more than one billion people would lose their fundamental source of protein.
There is a well-known Einstein's statement: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live." Bees are pollinating 80 percent of flowering plants, the fruits of which constitute one third of what we eat (e.g. apple, potato, broccoli, strawberry, various berries, etc.) One study of the Cornell University has shown that bees annually pollinate 14 billion dollars worth of crops in the United States alone. In 2006, a drastic decrease of bee colonies' size was noted, with the decrease in Europe going as high as 50 percent. The scientists are attempting to identify the true cause of the population decrease noted for that species, the extinction of which, we believe, would have drastic consequences, rivaling those echoed in Einstein's thoughts.
The international community did not succeed in reaching the goals set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity, when it comes to mitigating the loss of biodiversity by the year 2010, and all indicators point to the increase of pressures impacting upon life on Earth, and upon further decrease of biodiversity. In a biologically exhausted world, it is impossible to establish a stable and progressive human society.
A number of studies point to the fact that the lack of interest among people for these issues stems from the fact that the issue at stake here are public goods and services that ought to be permanently available without further investments into their protection and/or restoration. However, without awareness raising, and without efforts aimed at finding solutions through support mechanisms of international, regional and state institutions, the problems of decreasing biodiversity and loss of natural habitats remain a dead letter.
All those interested in these challenges can find more information on the matter at the official website dedicated to the International Year of Biodiversity, at http://www.cbd.int/2010/welcome/.