Hun­dreds of species face ex­tinc­tion

The Gulf Today - Time Out - - YOUNG WORLD - BY MEENA S. JA­NARD­HAN

Ahead of the re­cent United Na­tions Bio­di­ver­sity Sum­mit that was held in Egypt from Nov. 1729, a ma­jor as­sess­ment by the in­ter­na­tional Al­liance for Zero Ex­tinc­tion (AZE) – the global con­ser­va­tion part­ner­ship that works to iden­tify, map and safe­guard sites hold­ing the only known lo­ca­tions of highly threat­ened species – finds that nearly half of these ir­re­place­able sites are cur­rently un­pro­tected, but that with con­certed ac­tion, hun­dreds of ex­tinc­tions can be pre­vented.

The anal­y­sis mapped the ranges of 1,483 highly threat­ened species known only to oc­cur in a sin­gle site. To qual­ify for AZE sta­tus, a site must be the last known lo­ca­tion of an En­dan­gered or Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered species – the two high­est ex­tinc­tion threat cat­e­gories on the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species.

Along­side its ef­forts in Chile, the AZE project team is also work­ing in Brazil and Mada­gas­car. Across all three coun­tries, the project aims to im­prove the man­age­ment of Al­liance for Zero Ex­tinc­tion sites, as well as work­ing with key inancial in­sti­tu­tions to in­te­grate con­ser­va­tion of threat­ened species into their en­vi­ron­men­tal safe­guard poli­cies

Launched glob­ally in 2005, the AZE was es­tab­lished to des­ig­nate and ef­fec­tively con­serve the most im­por­tant sites for global bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion. The AZE en­gages govern­ments, mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions and non-gov­ern­men­tal bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing to pre­vent species ex­tinc­tions. Just un­der 1,500 of Earth’s most en­dan­gered species are re­stricted to just a sin­gle site, mak­ing these sites glob­ally ir­re­place­able from a bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion viewpoint.

AZE mem­bers have iden­ti­ied 853 AZE sites, which are the ar­eas that hold the last-re­main­ing pop­u­la­tions of one or more species eval­u­ated to be En­dan­gered or Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered on the IUCN Red List. These lo­ca­tions must be ef­fec­tively con­served to pre­vent the loss of the world’s species at high­est risk of ex­tinc­tion, through pro­tected area plan­ning or other ef­fec­tive con­ser­va­tion strate­gies.

AZE sites have one or more Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered or En­dan­gered species that oc­curs nowhere else on Earth. If an AZE site is lost, such as through habi­tat degra­da­tion, these species are very likely to be­come ex­tinct, at least in the wild. How can the ex­tinc­tion of such highly-threat­ened species be avoided?

1. Iden­tify AZE sites: the first step to im­ple­ment­ing AZE site con­ser­va­tion is to iden­tify AZE sites.

2. De­ter­mine pro­tected area cov­er­age for AZE sites: the next step is to de­ter­mine which AZE sites are cur­rently pro­tected. Both na­tion­al­level pro­tected ar­eas datasets and global datasets, such as the World Database on Pro­tected Ar­eas, can be con­sulted to de­ter­mine the ex­tent to which AZE sites are in pro­tected ar­eas.

3. Safe­guard sites for bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion: the third step is to safe­guard these ex­tremely im­por­tant sites for bio­di­ver­sity con­ser­va­tion. Such con­ser­va­tion can be im­ple­mented in sev­eral ways, such as through the es­tab­lish­ment of na­tional or sub-na­tional pro­tected ar­eas, pri­vate pro­tected ar­eas, or other ef­fec­tive area-based con­ser­va­tion mea­sures in which long-term man­age­ment mea­sures ex­ist.

AZE uses the fol­low­ing cri­te­ria to iden­tify pri­or­ity sites. An AZE site must meet all three cri­te­ria to qual­ify.

1. En­dan­ger­ment: an AZE site must con­tain at least one En­dan­gered (EN) or Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered (CR) species, as as­sessed on the IUCN Red List.

2. Ir­re­place­abil­ity: an AZE site should only be des­ig­nated if it is the sole area where an EN or CR species oc­curs, con­tains the over­whelm­ingly sig­ni­icant known res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion (>95%) of the EN or CR species, or con­tains the over­whelm­ingly sig­ni­icant known pop­u­la­tion (>95%) for one life his­tory seg­ment (e.g. breed­ing or win­ter­ing) of the EN or CR species.

3. Dis­crete­ness: the area must have a dein­able bound­ary within which the char­ac­ter of habi­tats, bi­o­log­i­cal com­mu­ni­ties, and/or man­age­ment is­sues have more in com­mon with each other than they do with those in ad­ja­cent ar­eas.

These cri­te­ria are the equiv­a­lent of Key Bio­di­ver­sity Area (KBA) cri­te­rion A1e: Site reg­u­larly holds ef­fec­tively the en­tire global pop­u­la­tion size of a Crit­i­cally En­dan­gered or En­dan­gered species. There­fore, all AZE sites are also KBAs.

THE CON­FER­ENCE

Govern­ments met in Egypt to build mo­men­tum for a New Deal for Na­ture and Peo­ple. The 2018 UN Bio­di­ver­sity Con­fer­ence held un­der the theme of ‘In­vest­ing in Bio­di­ver­sity for Peo­ple and Planet’.

The con­fer­ence ad­dressed main­stream­ing of bio­di­ver­sity in cru­cial eco­nomic sec­tors, such as en­ergy and min­ing, in­fra­struc­ture, man­u­fac­tur­ing and pro­cess­ing as well as health. Del­e­gates recharged am­bi­tion to scale and ac­cel­er­ate ef­forts to make progress on the 20 global “Aichi Bio­di­ver­sity Tar­gets” by 2020. Par­tic­i­pants also set the path to de­velop the post 2020 global bio­di­ver­sity frame­work.

The con­fer­ence took place at a crit­i­cal mo­ment for the fate of bio­di­ver­sity world­wide. The World Wide Fund for Na­ture (WWF) Liv­ing Planet Re­port 2018 found that world­wide ver­te­brate pop­u­la­tions are cur­rently set to de­cline by 60 per cent from their 1970 lev­els by 2020. Sci­en­tiic re­ports from the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal SciencePol­icy Plat­form on Bio­di­ver­sity and Ecosys­tem Ser­vices (IPBES), re­leased in March, also of­fers a de­tailed sur­vey of the sta­tus and health of bio­di­ver­sity re­gion by re­gion.

Sig­ni­icant ac­tion is needed to ad­dress con­tin­u­ing bio­di­ver­sity loss and to achieve the three ob­jec­tives of the Con­ven­tion. Cat­alyz­ing ac­tion at the nec­es­sary scale re­quires in­te­grat­ing bio­di­ver­sity in rel­e­vant eco­nomic sec­tors, as well as in cross-cut­ting na­tional poli­cies, de­vel­op­ment plans and pro­cesses, bud­gets, and eco­nomic projects. These kinds of ac­tions are of­ten re­ferred to as “bio­di­ver­sity main­stream­ing.”

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