Mainstreaming of Biodiversity
Mainstreaming of biodiversity is becoming a critical issue receiving the attention of both national and international ecological experts. A workshop was recently held in Cape Town under the theme ‘Scientific Approaches towards Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes’. The event was organised by the University of Pretoria in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The workshop was well attended, attracting speakers from Africa, France, the United States of America and also nationally. Opening the conference was the United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who called for new, more science-based, targets.
The workshop focused on biodiversity conservation outside protected areas, as a point of departure. ‘This is supposed to bring in all those who utilise the landscape, into thinking about biodiversity in their actions, hence the 2009 theme Biodiversity Mainstreaming’ says Bonani Madikizela, a Water Research Commission research manager who participated in the workshop.
Ideas and lessons learnt out of the workshop were intended to form part of the Diversitas programme, which convened its 2nd Open Science Conference on 13-16 October 2009 with 600 experts from around the world.
This workshop was a follow-up to the September 2004 international workshop which was held under the theme ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Production Landscapes and Sectors’ which was co-hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Mainstreaming biodiversity was then defined as ‘Internalizing the goals of biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of biological resources into economic sectors and development models, policies and programmes, and therefore into all human behaviour’.
The world will miss its agreed target to stem biodiversity loss by next year, according to the discussions held by experts who devoted their focus to biodiversity science. ‘We will certainly miss the target for reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and therefore also miss the 2015 environmental targets within the UN Millennium Development Goals to improve health and livelihoods for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,’ says Georgina Mace, Vice-Chair of the international Diversitas programme.
‘It is hard to image a more important priority than protecting the ecosystem services underpinned by biodiversity,’ says Prof. Mace. ‘Biodiversity is fundamental to humans having food, fuel, clean water and a habitable climate. Yet changes to ecosystems and losses of biodiversity have continued to accelerate. Since 1992, even the most conservative estimates agree that an area of tropical rainforest greater than the size of California has been converted mostly for food and fuel. Species extinction rates are at least 100 times those in pre-human times and are expected to continue to increase’ she adds. Read more
Research Manager : Water -Linked Ecosystems