UN report highlights links between ‘unprecedented biodiversity loss’ and spread of disease | | UN News

Ten-year targets missed
This year’s study is considered to be particularly significant, because it serves as a “final report card” for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a series of 20 objectives set out in 2010, at the beginning of the UN’s Decade on Biodiversity, most of which were supposed to be reached by the end of this year.However, none of the targets – which concern the safeguarding of ecosystems, and the promotion of sustainability – have been fully met, and only six are deemed to have been “partially achieved”. “Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised”, said Ms. Mrema, “and the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own well-being, security and prosperity.”

Source: UN report highlights links between ‘unprecedented biodiversity loss’ and spread of disease | | UN News

Amazon forests: Biodiversity can help mitigate climate risks — PIK Research Portal

29/08/2016 – A forest with greater diversity of plants can better adjust to climatic stress. Now for the first time, a team of scientists can show this in computer simulations of the Amazon region by accounting for its amazing diversity of trees. Biodiversity can hence be an effective means to mitigate climate risks and should not only be seen in the context of nature conservation.
Amazon forests: Biodiversity can help mitigate climate risks

Amazon rainforest trees. Photo: Atelopus/thinkstock

“Plant trait diversity may enable the Amazon forests, the world’s greatest and maybe most fascinating tropical ecosystem, to adjust to some level of climate change – certain trees dominant today could decrease and their place will be taken by others which are better suited for the new climate conditions in the future,” says Boris Sakschewski from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), lead-author of the study to be published in Nature Climate Change. Tree survival for instance depends on what the scientists call ‘leaf economics’: their different size, thickness, longevity or density defines how well the plant can deal with higher temperatures and water scarcity. “Biodiversity shows not to be a nice-to-have but indeed a must-have,” says Sakschewski. “We find it could be functional for the long-term survival of Earth’s large reservoirs of biomass, such as the forests of the Amazon region.”

However, this depends on the level of stress. Only in a scenario of moderate climate change, high biodiversity can, after a sharp decline of biomass, contribute to substantial recovery in vast areas across the Amazon region after a few hundred years. Here, more than 80 percent of the Amazon area would show substantial regrowth, according to the study. In contrast, in a business-as-usual scenario of greenhouse-gas emissions leading to massive climate change, less than 20 percent of the area would show this positive effect.

A significant step forward in Earth system modelling

Never before have these dynamics been integrated in a biogeochemical vegetation simulation of climate effects, so this is a significant step forward in Earth system modelling. “To explain how plant trait diversity contributes to the resilience of rainforest we first investigated an experimental site in Ecuador and then extended the simulations to the Amazon basin,” says team leader Kirsten Thonicke from PIK. “We’ve been working on this for years. While it is well-known that biodiversity is relevant for ecosystem productivity and biomass storage, up to now it could not be shown in a large-scale quantitative way. We’re glad to advance previous research by closing this important gap.”

“This is good news for the Amazon forest – still, it doesn’t mean that climate change would not harm this unique ecosystem substantially, quite the contrary,” says Wolfgang Lucht, co-chair of PIK’s research domain Earth System Analysis. While high biodiversity enables the forest to eventually regain much of its biomass, there is a huge disruption in the transition and the species composition would be different afterwards even under moderate global warming. “Despite the encouraging findings on biodiversity’s functional value, the Amazon rainforest unfortunately remains one of the critical hotspots on the planet that demand very rapid decreases in CO2 emissions.”

 

Read more..Source: Amazon forests: Biodiversity can help mitigate climate risks — PIK Research Portal

‘A great silence is spreading over the natural world’ | Environment | The Guardian

Musician and naturalist Bernie Krause has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species in many of the world’s pristine habitats. Photograph: Courtesy of Hachette Book Group John Vidal, environment editor Monday 3 September 2012 08.00 BST Last modified on Wednesday 21 May 2014 08.11 BST Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Shares 28k Comments 86 Save for later “The birds are silent in the woods. Just wait: Soon enough You will be quiet too” – Robert Hass When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of Fiji, he picks up a raucous mix of sighs, beats, glissandos, cries, groans, tones, grunts, beats and clicks. The water pulsates with the sound of creatures vying for acoustic bandwidth. He hears crustaceans, parrot fish, anemones, wrasses, sharks, shrimps, puffers and surgeonfish. Some gnash their teeth, others use their bladders or tails to make sound. Sea anemones grunt and belch. Every creature on the reef makes its own sound. But half a mile away, where the same reef is badly damaged, he can only pick up the sound of waves and a few snapping shrimp. It is, he says, the desolate sound of extinction. Krause, whose electronic music with Paul Beaver was used on classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, and who worked regularly with Bob Dylan, George Harrison and The Byrds, has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species, collecting 4,500 hours of sound from many of the world’s pristine habitats. But such is the rate of species extinction and the deterioration of pristine habitat that he estimates half these recordings are now archives, impossible to repeat because the habitats no longer exist or because they have been so compromised by human noise. His tapes are possibly the only record of the original diversity of life in these places. Advertisement “A great silence is spreading over the natural world even as the sound of man is becoming deafening,” he writes in a new book, The Great Animal Orchestra. “Little by little the vast orchestra of life, the chorus of the natural world, is in the process of being quietened. There has been a massive decrease in the density and diversity of key vocal creatures, both large and small. The sense of desolation extends beyond mere silence. “If you listen to a damaged soundscape … the community [of life] has been altered, and organisms have been destroyed, lost their habitat or been left to re-establish their places in the spectrum. As a result, some voices are gone entirely, while others aggressively compete to establish a new place in the increasingly disjointed chorus.” Hawaii, he says, is the extinction capital of the world. “In a couple of centuries since the islands were populated by Europeans, half the 140 bird species have disappeared. In Madagascar, 15 species of lemur, an elephant bird, a pygmy hippo and an estimated half of all the animals have gone extinct.” Even partially dis

Source: ‘A great silence is spreading over the natural world’ | Environment | The Guardian

The Cause Is Us: World on Verge of Sixth Extinction | Common Dreams

Not ‘on the verge”: we are there..

A new study showing that the human activity has driven current rates of species extinction to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate is “alarming” and “should be a clarion call” to work towards greater conservation efforts, an environmental group charges.The study, published Thursday by the journal Science and led by conservation expert Stuart Pimm, also warns that without drastic action, the sixth mass extinction could be imminent.

via The Cause Is Us: World on Verge of Sixth Extinction | Common Dreams.

Biodiversity offsetting is a license to trash | Climate Connections

proposal in the UK to destroy ancient woodland to make way for a £40 million motorway service station clearly reveals the flaws of biodiversity offsets.

Smithy Wood is a small area of woodland on the outskirts of Sheffield. The woodland has featured on maps for several hundred years. 800 years ago, the monks of Kirkstead Abbey used timber from Smithy Wood to make charcoal for smelting iron. The stained glass window above is in the chapter house of Sheffield Cathedral and shows monks smelting iron in the 12th Century.

Smithy Wood was split into four by the construction of the M1 motorway in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the wood is a designated Local Wildlife Site within Sheffield’s Green Belt. Woodland historian Melvyn Jones describes the importance of the remaining woodland:

via Biodiversity offsetting is a license to trash | Climate Connections.

IPBES circulates top examples of indigenous knowledge preserving biodiversity, ecosystem services

ANTALYA, TURKEY: With the planet losing species 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, international experts assembling for high-level global biodiversity meetings say knowledge co-production with indigenous peoples has growing importance. Building synergies between science and traditional knowledge forms one focus of delegates meeting in Antalya, Turkey, from 9-14 December, charged with determining a conceptual framework and initial work program for the UN’s new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Available from almost every world region, lessons for ecosystem and natural resource management in indigenous and local knowledge include: the rice-fish co-culture, a farming technique for over 1,200 years in south China, which was recently designated a “globally-important agricultural heritage system” by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; indigenous fire management techniques developed thousands of years ago, used to protect large landscapes in Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Venezuela; animal herd management in the Arctic, where remote satellite sensing, meteorology and modelling are complemented with the indigenous knowledge of Sami and Nenets reindeer herders to co-produce datasets; rotational farming, traditional cropping strategies and access to seeds, which have proved essential for adaptation and survival; sophisticated rainwater harvesting techniques; and sustainable management of marine resources, as practiced by many Pacific island communities, which traditionally involves the use of area and time-based restrictions to facilitate marine resource recovery

via This week in review … IPBES circulates top examples of indigenous knowledge preserving biodiversity, ecosystem services.

The Need for a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement | Greenpeace International

The current way of managing the high seas puts short-term corporate interests before the long-term health of our oceans. Unless action is taken to restore and protect the health of our oceans, they will be unable to sustain life on Earth.

via The Need for a High Seas Biodiversity Agreement | Greenpeace International.