Philip McGowan, Newcastle University; Friederike Bolam, Newcastle University, and Louise Mair, Newcastle University
“Transformative change” is needed to prevent over a million species going extinct, according to a new report on the world’s biodiversity. Based on information gathered over three years from land, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and drawing heavily from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the report from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warns that Earth’s life-support systems may collapse if humanity doesn’t change the way it values and uses nature.
But what does this mean for everyday life? “Biodiversity” – which describes the variety and abundance of species living on Earth – is a term which doesn’t travel far outside debate between scientists and policymakers. The consequences of the biodiversity crisis can seem abstract and difficult for many people to understand, particularly the implications for their own lives. Continue reading
As today is International Day for Biological Diversity it is a good time to reflect upon the progress we’ve made in conserving species, the numerous environmental pressures that threaten biodiversity, and ways forward to protect it. As the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are due to expire in 2020 international policy dedicated to biodiversity and conservation will continue under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Providing thoughtful commentary on how to move forward in conserving biodiversity post-2020, we have produced a series of scenarios that address Goal 15: Life on Land and the Aichi Targets. They focus on:
- Preventing species extinctions
- Tools for predicting species distribution
- Prioritisting species for conservation planning
- The role of citizen science
Prof Mark Reed
UK peatlands are wild, often remote places. These aren’t the fields and farms that many town dwellers associate with the British countryside, rather areas of bog and mire that may be seldom visited except, perhaps, by the committed enthusiast. Not all look as attractive as they might — all too often peat bogs have suffered extensive damage, either through extraction of material for gardening products or attempts to drain the land for agricultural purposes. But these are important places, providing not only iconic and beautiful habitats for other species, but also vital resources for our own survival.
What have peat bogs got to offer? Our supplies of clean drinking water depend on rainfall in peatlands and they can also be important in mitigating flooding , slowing down the flow of water on its way to urban areas. Highly specialised species that are often rare, threatened or declining live, feed and breed in peatland habitats. From the bog hoverfly to the golden plover and greenshank, many species make their home here.
Goal 15 requires the protection of the terrestrial environment by stopping the deterioration of biodiversity, using resources wisely and restoring ecosystems where needed. Goal 14 has similar requirements for the oceans. These join a plethora of global commitments and processes intended to promote conservation and ensure a sustainable environment, and lessons suggest that they are hard to address. To avoid the SDGs becoming just another set of commitments to be met, clever thinking would help chart the course for policies and action to fill a range of these commitments and lead to genuine protection for our planet.
Download policy brief on these SDGs: Aligning the SDGs with global policies for biodiversity
Part of a blog series from Newcastle University Societal Challenge Theme Institutes giving recommendations for targets and indicators of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.