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International Day for Biological Diversity 2011

Celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity 2011

The United Nations proclaimed 22 May as the International Day for Biological Diversity to promote greater understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. This year’s theme is forest biodiversity, in recognition of 2011 as the International Year of Forests, and drawing attention to the great value of forest biodiversity to our lives, livelihoods, and wellbeing.

Andreas Schild

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Forests cover close to one-third of the earth’s land surface and contain more than two-thirds of the world’s terrestrial species. They are biodiversity rich and vibrant ecosystems, containing a wondrous array of birds, animals, and plants. Forest biodiversity is an integral part of the history of human development as it is the basis for more than 5,000 products, from aromatic oils distilled from leaves, to herbal medicines, fuel, food, furniture, and clothing. Forests prevent soil erosion and help to regulate the climate; they provide clean water, inspire us in art, research, and religion, and are essential for our survival and wellbeing – all seven billion of us. As a service provider, forests play a broad role. Standing forests are able to remove about 15 per cent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere every year by sequestering carbon; in so doing, they become valuable ‘carbon sinks’. Fuelwood is the primary source of energy for heating and cooking for an estimated 2.6 billion people globally. In 2005, the global sales of pharmaceuticals sourced from animals, plants, or microorganisms reached US$ 14 billion.

We often take the services provided by forests – the Earth’s ‘natural capital’ – for granted. Over the last quarter of a century, the world economy has quadrupled. At the same time, 60 per cent of the world’s major ecosystem services, which underpin livelihoods, have been degraded or used unsustainably. This is because economic growth has been accomplished partly by drawing on natural capital without allowing stocks to regenerate, and through allowing widespread ecosystem degradation and loss. Since 2000, primary forests have decreased by more than 40 million hectares, mostly due to logging and agricultural expansion. Invasive species are colonising forested areas rampantly. Climate change is adding to the vulnerability of forest ecosystems. The challenges in maintaining forested biodiversity are increasing day-by-day.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayas, the working area of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), is one of the most dynamic regions in the world with rich and remarkable biodiversity. Approximately 25 per cent of the region is forest. The region, with its varied landscapes and soil formation, and variety of vegetation types and climatic conditions, is well known for its unique flora and fauna showing a high level of endemism. However, forest-based resources in the HKH are declining, mainly due to lack of incentives for local communities to conserve forest biodiversity and the trading of pollution for economic growth. The communities living in this fragile and biologically rich ecosystem are highly dependent on forest resources as they are marginalised from mainstream development. Their dependence on forest-based resources is higher than that of people in the lowlands and elsewhere. Nearly three-quarters of the people in the region live in rural areas, most dependent on land-based activities for their subsistence living.

ICIMOD has been advocating for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development through its mountain perspective framework, which is characterised by understanding the specific characteristics of mountain conditions such as fragility, inaccessibility, marginality, diversity, specific niche opportunities, and human adaptation practices. ICIMOD has also been active in facilitating its regional member countries through various conservation and development approaches, such as participatory natural resources management. It has fostered regional cooperation in applied research on conservation and management using the ‘ecosystem approach’ and taking the existence of transboundary landscapes into account. ICIMOD is supporting sharing and mainstreaming of information and best practices in the region and highlighting crosscutting issues such as policy, governance, and equity and gender.

To celebrate the International Day of Biological Diversity, ICIMOD is organising a talk programme. Two distinguished experts, Dr Krishna Chandra Poudel from the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal, and Dr Ram Prasad Chaudhary from Tribhuvan University will discuss themes related to ‘Sustainable management of forests for conserving biodiversity, developing the local economy and adapting to climate change’ on 23 May at ICIMOD Headquarters in Kathmandu.

Conserving biodiversity and assuring continuous ecosystem services to support life on Earth is our responsibility, and ICIMOD is committed to it! On the International Day for Biological Diversity, ICIMOD calls for everyone to contribute to the cause, in whatever form possible, so that we make a difference.

Andreas Schild

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山地被广泛认为是生物多样性的发源地,其陡峭的斜坡孕育了各种繁复的生命形式。这些地区作为自然的庇护所变得愈发重要:虽然它们只占据了地球总面积的四分之一,却容纳了地球上85%的两栖动物、鸟类和哺乳动物。这种丰富的自然资源在联合国教科文组织的738个全球生物圈保护区中得到体现,其中明显超过一半位于山区。 然而,令人担忧的是,这些自然资源的非凡丰富正面临威胁。过去,由于偏远或地形困难,山地得以免受人类干扰,但如今这种状况逐渐减少。曾经被视为大自然摇篮和避难所的山地正在逐渐转变成墓地。在兴都库什-喜马拉雅地区,上个世纪就已经失去了70%的生物多样性。这些损失,包括物种的灭绝,如今正以加速度增长,正如ICIMOD的重要评估报告《兴都库什喜马拉雅的水、冰、社会和生态系统》(简称《HIWISE报告》)所指出的那样。 在公众、政治和外交层面,人们越来越认识到自然是我们当前危机中最重要的解决方案之一。联合国已宣布2021-2030年为生态系统恢复十年,去年,《昆明-蒙特利尔全球生物多样性框架》的指导下,全球100多个政府承诺在2030年之前将30%的陆地和海洋保留给自然,其中包括兴都库什-喜马拉雅地区。今年,在联合国全球气候大会COP28上,自然首次成为讨论的核心议题。 这些努力,以及今年国际山岳日的“生态系统恢复”主题,为恢复和保护山区景观提供了迫切需要的推动力。那么,我们的八个成员国离实现“30x30”目标有多近呢?到目前为止,不丹是唯一一个实际超额达标的国家,其51.4%的土地面积已经属于各种保护区类别。 尼泊尔只有不到24%的土地受到保护;中国仅为16%,略高于目标的一半;巴基斯坦占12%;印度为8%;缅甸为7%;孟加拉国为5%,阿富汗为4%。 令人担忧的是,在整个兴都库什-喜马拉雅地区,自然资源仍然丰富的关键区域仍处在保护之外:67%的生态区、39%的生物多样性热点、69%的关键生物多样性区域以及76%的重要鸟类和生物多样性区都没有得到保护。 现有的保护区域犹如在人类改变过的景观中的“孤岛”,缺乏与其他保护区域的连通走廊,无法满足广泛分布的物种需求,并且面临非法捕猎、侵占和资源开采的压力。现有的保护区域不足以确保成功保护我们地区的象征性物种,包括亚洲象、独角犀牛和孟加拉虎。 一个尚未尝试的解决方案是建立跨界生物圈保护区,这将允许在景观层面进行综合保护。实现这一目标需要跨越国家边界的共同政治承诺,并在共享生态系统的管理方面展开合作。ICIMOD将积极推动我们区域成员国接受这一解决方案。 然而,底线是,要扭转自然的损失,我们必须对其进行估值并提供相应的资金支持。只要经济学家继续将其价值定为零,就不会引起足够的重视。在进行估值之前,拥有大量自然资本但经济欠发达的国家将因为缺乏3A信用评级而难以以较低贷款利率借款。必须为该地区的国家提供更便宜的资本来促使自然的恢复:这是ICIMOD将与我们的成员、多边开发银行和其他机构紧急合作推进的事项。为了防止地球系统完全崩溃,我们必须为大自然提供一个适宜的生存环境,这一观点从未像现在这样显而易见。

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