C·I·B core team member Prof. Melodie McGeoch and C·I·B post-doc Dr Dian Spear were co-authors of a recent report in Science that has
received substantial global press coverage. The study synthesises the outcomes of global indicators of biodiversity threat to establish whether or not nations have
honoured their commitment to reducing biodiversity loss. Thirty-one indicators were compiled to measure the state of biodiversity (e.g. habitat condition and community
composition), pressures on biodiversity (e.g. resource use) and responses to the problem (i.e. management interventions). The available data indicated that although
there had been increases in policy responses and management action in some cases, the state of biodiversity is declining generally, and pressures on biodiversity are
increasing. The study shows no support for a decline in rates of biodiversity loss.
Drs McGeoch and Spear were involved in the development of indicators for measuring progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2010 Biodiversity Target
to reduce threats to biodiversity. Their contribution to the Science study was an assessment of numbers of invasive alien species globally, and national and
international policy responses to the invasive species problem (click here for
more details of this approach). These data showed that there has been an increase in policy aimed at tackling the invasive alien species problem, but that the state of
threat to biodiversity from invasive alien species is currently dire, and that this threat is likely to worsen based on trends in invasive alien species in Europe.
A conservation success. Populations of the European bison, Bison bonasus, are now increasing due to successful intensive conservation
action. (Photo: Tim Blackburn)
The study did recognise that there have been some important local or national successes in tackling biodiversity loss, including the designation of many protected
areas, the recovery of particular species and the prevention of some extinctions. But despite these encouraging achievements, efforts to address the loss of biodiversity
need to be substantially strengthened, and sustained investment in coherent global biodiversity monitoring and indicators is essential to track and improve the effectiveness
of these responses.
The results from this study feed into Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, the flagship publication of the CBD, to be released in Nairobi on 10 May 2010, when government
representatives from around the world will meet to discuss the 2010 target and how to address the biodiversity.
“Although negative, this outcome represents an opportunity for countries, such as South Africa, to benchmark themselves against global progress to reduce the
rate of biodiversity loss. In this way we provide evidence-based motivation for stepping up conservation efforts at national and sub-national level, and for translating
global policy into local action. This is where conservation is most effective”, said co-author Melodie McGeoch of South African National Parks and the Centre for
Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University.
Dian Spear commented that “the commitment of countries globally to curbing the rate of biodiversity loss implies increased global attention to the biodiversity
problem, but implementing these conservation intentions is vital and requires substantial resources”.
To find out more see the early release of the report available at science express: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1187512.
Butchart, S.H.M., Walpole, M., Collen, B., van Strien, A., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Almond, R.E.A., Baillie, J.E.M., Bomhard, B., Brown, C., Bruno, J., Carpenter, K.E.,
Carr, G.M., Chanson, J., Chenery, A.M., Csirke, J., Davidson, N.C., Dentener, F., Foster, M., Galli, A., Galloway, J.N., Genovesi, P., Gregory, R.D., Hockings, M.,
Kapos, V., Lamarque, J-F., Leverington, F., Loh, J., McGeoch, M.A., McRae, L., Minasyan, A., Hernandez Morcillo, M., Oldfield, T.E.E., Pauly, D., Quader, S.,
Revenga, C., Sauer, J.R., Skolnik, B., Spear, D., Stanwell-Smith, D., Stuart, S.N., Symes, A., Tierney, M., Tyrell, T.D., Vie, J-C. & Watson, R. 2010.
Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science, 29 April 2010 (10.1126/science.1187512).