I really wanted to talk about this article before. A few weeks ago, it was published in Science a work by an extensive work by a high number of researchers, focused in the review and discussion of indicators of global indicators of biodiversity. Citing the article, in 2002 world leaders committed, through the Convention on Biological Diversity, “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”.
Now, 2010 has been named the International Year of Biodiversity. And a team reported in this article, numbers and trends showing the current state of several indicators of biodiversity, grouped into four main categories: indicators of state, pressure, response and benefits.
The indicators of state are related with the state of biodiversity in terms of species and ecosystems. Eight indicators show a decline. For example, the Living Planet Index (mean population trends of vertebrates) show a continuous decline since 1970. The Red List Index, indicating the risk of extinction of mammals, birds, amphibians and corals, also show a decline. Other indicators are Forest Extent, Coral Reef Condition and Water Quality Index.
Indicators of pressure on biodiversity are more related with difficulties upon the improvement of biodiversity. One example is the Exploitation of Fish Stocks, which exhibits a great increase. All the indicators of pressure (Ecological Footprint, Nitrogen Deposition Rate, Alien Species in Europe, and Climate Impact Indicator) show an increase.
Although the numbers are discouraging, some hope arises when we look at the positive numbers. Indicators of response are increasing, and the authors show some data related with improvements in biodiversity. For example, at least 16 bird species extinctions were prevented by conservation actions during 1994-2004. Also, deforestation in Amazonia decreased, protected areas increased and several countries have policies and agreements related with the prevention of spread of alien species.
This post is not intended to be a review of the article. Instead, it offers a view at-a-glance, a general commentary of the article. I advice to all the readers of this post to read the article and to visit the webpage of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where you can download more information about the mission and goals for this year and for the future.
In words of the authors of the article, “our results show that, despite a few encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity need to be substantially strengthened”.
Butchart, S., Walpole, M., Collen, B., van Strien, A., Scharlemann, J., Almond, R., Baillie, J., Bomhard, B., Brown, C., Bruno, J., Carpenter, K., Carr, G., Chanson, J., Chenery, A., Csirke, J., Davidson, N., Dentener, F., Foster, M., Galli, A., Galloway, J., Genovesi, P., Gregory, R., Hockings, M., Kapos, V., Lamarque, J., Leverington, F., Loh, J., McGeoch, M., McRae, L., Minasyan, A., Morcillo, M., Oldfield, T., Pauly, D., Quader, S., Revenga, C., Sauer, J., Skolnik, B., Spear, D., Stanwell-Smith, D., Stuart, S., Symes, A., Tierney, M., Tyrrell, T., Vie, J., & Watson, R. (2010). Global Biodiversity: Indicators of Recent Declines Science, 328 (5982), 1164-1168 DOI: 10.1126/science.1187512
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3., & Montréal, 94 pages. (2010). Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 Convention on Biological Diversity