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Biodiversity:

Conservation and Threats

For millions of years, the world was


wilderness, left to wildlife

Once people arrived, things


started to change

Fire and technology helped early human immigrants


into the Americas drive some species to extinction,
such as the mammoth, giant ground sloth, and an
entire complex of edentates. Our lives are
impoverished for having lost these species.

But the hunting and gathering people who


arrived in the Americas also adapted, learning
how to conserve their natural resources in the
wilderness where they lived.

Agriculture developed independently in


several parts of the Western Hemisphere,
giving people greater control over nature,
even domesticating many species.

Later, mechanized agriculture -- often forced by


colonial or global sources of demand -- moved
across the land, replacing more wilderness,
further threatening wild biodiversity and
expanding the human population

We are consuming more food


Resource
Per capita increase
(1950-1990)
Grain
40%
Beef and mutton
26%
Fish
100%

The process of land conversion


continues to accelerate, sometimes
encroaching on legally protected areas.

Why do we need biodiversity?

IUCN Photo Library Jim Thorsell

Ecosystem Services: the benefits


people obtain from ecosystems
Provisioning

Regulating

Cultural

Goods produced or provided


by ecosystems
food
fresh water
fuel wood
genetic resources

Benefits obtained from


regulation of ecosystem
processes
climate regulation
disease regulation
flood regulation

Non-material benefits from


ecosystems
spiritual
recreational
aesthetic
inspirational
educational

Supporting
Services necessary for production of other ecosystem services
Soil formation
Nutrient cycling
Primary production

FORESTS
BENEFITS
Absorption of carbon dioxide, a
greenhouse gas
Wood and other forest products
Biodiversity: drugs from plants
IUCN Photo Library Jim Thorsell

FORESTS
Indicative costs if lost
$7 million Likely cost to plant enough trees to offset one
million tons of carbon emitted annually from a mediumsize coal-fired power plant.
$135 million Annual value of US and Canadian maple
syrup products. Pollution from midwestern power plants
threatens sugar maples in both countries.
$1.6 billion Annual Sales of Taxol, an anticancer agent
first dervied from the bark of Pacific yew trees.

IUCN Photo Library Ji

GRASSLANDS
BENEFITS
Soil formation and
retention
Gene pool for
crossbreeding grains
Animal habitat

GRASSLANDS
Indicative costs if lost
$9 trillion Value today of 200 million tons of topsoil blown
off US Great Plains in one 1934 dust storm. Prairie had
been ploughed to plant wheat.
$14 million Annual value of Californias barley crop;
Ethiopian wild barley genes provide virus protection.
$256 million Kenyas annual tourism revenue. Black
rhinos, a major wildlife attraction, have been poached
nearly to extinction.
Source: members.aol.com/ MVNick/snature.htm

OCEANS AND COASTS


BENEFITS
Major source of food protein
Protection against coastal flooding
and erosion
Tourist and recreational revenue
IUCN Photo Library Jim Thorsell

OCEANS AND COASTS


Indicative costs if lost
$51 million Value of Canadas annual Atlantic cod catch,
down from $148 million in 1989. Catch fell from 426,000
to 47,000 tons due to overfishing.
$100,000 Yearly cost to some Bali hotels to combat
beach erosion caused by destruction of coral reefs.
$33,500 Annual value of a single shark to diving industry
in Maldive Islands; value to a fisherman: $32.

IUCN Photo Library Jim Thorsel

Biodiversity
includes wild
relatives of
domestic plants
and animals

Biodiversity can help ecosystems


adapt to climate change

The main threats to biodiversity

Rain forest burning

Where is the risk of extinction greatest?


Areas of threatened species richness

Threatened Mammals

Threatened Turtles

Threatened Birds

Threatened Amphibians

So what can be done to conserve biodiversity?


Protected areas provide one important answer.

The World Database on Protected Areas

Protected Areas in
IUCN Categories I through VI

Key Problems: Addressing the eternal


conflict between people and nature

Key Problems:
Land use change

Key Problems: The increasing


homogenization of biodiversity: how do
we keep invasive alien species out of
wilderness areas?

Many people are working to find


common ground
between farmers and biodiversity

So what options do we have for


linking biodiversity to agriculture?

1. Maintain non-domestic habitats


within production landscapes

2. Use
economic
incentives to
encourage
farmers to
conserve wild
biodiversity

3. Compensate farmers for


economic damage from wild
species

4. Recognize the value of traditional


farming systems to conserve
domestic and wild biodiversity

5. Remove trade
barriers to
farmers in
developing
countries

6. Apply modern technology to


mainstreaming biodiversity in
agroecosystems

7. Recognize rights of farmers for


genetic resources

8. Recognize indigenous land


rights for biodiversity
conservation

9. Use market
instruments
to support agrobiodiversity

10. Adopt a landscape approach


when mainstreaming biodiversity

Conservation of biodiversity is an expression


of human culture.
Biodiversity needs active management if it is to
provide us with the goods and services we
desire.
This management needs to include some areas
where natural ecosystems are enabled to
continue their evolution.
The biological impacts of climate change will
require new approaches to conserving
biodiversity.