Monday 17th of June 2024

biodiversity versus big bucks...


Why pay attention to the biodiversity of the planet?...


2010 is the UN year of the biodiversity. But, apart from a few dedicated scientists and greenies who understand and try to value the problem of biodiversity's decline, the campaign for protection of ecosystems appears absent, uninspiring, dull and at times childish, especially to business men in suits driving economic road-graders for profits and for pocket money bonuses.

Even compared to the momentum of "climate change", presently in fierce battle-lines between red-neck deniers and serious science, biodiversity protection is more or less in limbo — possibly too complex of an idea or there are too many quick-buck factors against it, such as having no instant cash value in it... At least with global warming we think, or can argue against this proposition, it could really damage our standards of living should it be a reality. Thus the polemic is hot...

And let's be honest about the loss of a species such as the Tasmanian Tiger. It has had no negative impact whatsoever on the economy, except allow for more sheep to graze on the paddock without being killed... The way business would see it, less biodiversity, more streamlined cash-flow. Well, business does not really think that way — business does not think about much, biodiversity-care included, apart from cash incomes and outcomes — though sometimes business might see biodiversity as a mozzie that bugs from time to time.

When one drives a fifty tonnes tank, one does not see the bull-ants nest, unless one is bitten by one ant on the butt. And one could die from being bitten by too many mad bull-ants... But napalm can bring ant colonies and native plant species to their knees. That's power. That's taming the shrew!

Sure, "environmental impact study statements" are performed like eco-dances to minimise the damage to the image of destruction and to show that "we care", but eventually the koala colony disappears from proximity with "development" and the following pronouncement can then be made "the koalas were on their way out of there anyway... see we did everything to "protect" them... but they went...".

Thus there is a noticeable indifference to biodiversity in business cycles. And "koalas can be in plague proportion in some area"... Well, they live there a bit like in a Gaza concentration camp...

Economic factors and scientific measurements tend to clash. When the protection of something means stopping destruction-for-profit, we're in for one usual outcome: flat earth first... and this is not a theory.

There is always a lag-time between our realisation of the decline of biodiversity, the quick political and economic fixes to murder it in the name of human progress and what we can do to protect it. While destruction of habitat is rife, and at speed, organisations for the protection of biodiversity are slow to convert talks and conferences, into concrete actions. There is a bit of a look of windmills about them.

One has to say, here, the subtle benefit of nature's integrity has been undervalued for yonks and rarely accounted for in economic development (apart from a bit of vicarious tourism — and there is always a price to pay for this, such as over-invaded spaces that require "infrastructures" to channel the crowds and provide pee-houses) while the negative returns of deforestation and pollution are never or rarely accounted for, because for every average tree that fall, one can make ten tables, two thousand newspapers, one million toilet rolls and 20 billion match-sticks. Sure, there are more "ecological impact studies" produced, but these are often like a green coat of paint to disguise the up-coming black ugly damage underneath.

It will be mostly the poor that will suffer most and the future generations that will miss what has been lost, or will they?...

And in some instance of caring while being "economically viable", we create other problems too, such as planting "native" species, for loo paper, in forest rows that need insecticides to stop vague infestation, this leading to the degradation of waterways from "natural" species concentrated toxins, apart from the chemicals... One knows in this country for example that Eucalyptus oil can be lethally toxic, no?... But in reality these plantation trees are NOT NATIVES. Sure, they come from the same continent but from different regions. They are not endemic.


In regard to the exploitation of this planet, we carry-on of course with outmoded taxation system, based on availability of resources as if there was no limits, no decline — we reward with subsidies intensive farming and even over-fishing. Doing so, we cannot arrest the destruction of ecosystems, leading to a faster decline of biodiversity, as we have noticed...

Some sceptics are already onto me like a tonne of bricks. "Hey, we've discovered at least 5,000 new species in the oceans! don't tell us about the decline!". Idiots! These species are not new. It's just we did not know they were there! You moron! They have nothing to do with the decline of biodiversity... All it has to do is with the sum of our knowledge — and we know little... but we KNOW FOR SURE species are disappearing and many more are in danger of disappearing BECAUSE OF HUMAN ACTIVITIES... Idiots!.

But this decline may have a hidden cost. Some serious economists (TEEB- Pavan Sudkhev - - - have been trying to quantify the value of the loss of biodiversity for years, but only by October 2010, will realistic economic conclusion be given at a conference in Nagoya, Japan — that holy land of the "scientific" whalers... Nonetheless some figures are already filtering through. For example the loss of ecosystems around the world has been conservatively computed at 315 trillion $US in economic terms (note the world GDP per annum is about 60 trillion $US) and an expenditure of about 250 billion $US is now required annually to arrest the damage. And this does not include the bonuses.

Apparently, protecting biodiversity can lead to business opportunities — from eco-tourism to pharmaceuticals, from medicine to the provision of fresh air... But to me, there is first the ultimate intrinsic value of biodiversity — IT'S THERE — apart from the value to humankind, a value inherent to itself, in which should we choose to, we can admire the inherent beauty of accidental change or the amazing natural and environmental adaptation. In fact, unlike climate change that can (will) have a serious impact on economic comforts, the value of biodiversity in real terms is small. Sure, there can be some problems such as a swamp becoming smellier due to the death of life in it, but not as serious as a super-storm devastating a city or a village...

Nonetheless, there are moves by European nations to stop trading with countries whose products are the resultant of the degradation of natural ecosystems (say palm oil). Congratulation on behalf of my friends — the sub-species.

Thus in the spirit of biodiversity and protection of ecosystems, I'd like to salute 80 per cent of Frank Sartor who saw fit to protect 80 per cent of the river red gums and help loggers train in other professions. As long as. in the future, no new minister decides again in an environmental move to "save" 80 per cent of what's left... This, of course, would leave only 64 per cent of the original red gums... Then could come another minister in search of green glory and in a generous eco-mood deciding to "save" 80 per cent of what's left, leaving us with only half of the original stand... This has been the clever way by which much of the destruction of eco-systems is done, by political compromises. Bit by bit, "saving the rest for the future" till another minister comes along and take another bite out of it, grand-standing in the act of saving the rest... Gus has seen that before...

The Deniliquin council says the decision will cost jobs and hurt the local economy.

The council's general manager, Graeme Haley, says national parks will not necessarily save wetlands which are suffering from a lack of water.

"My initial reaction is extreme disappointment. We're replacing a $70 million per annum industry with a national park and a support package of up to $80 million over three years. The finances don't make any sense," he said.

Mr Haley says the evidence suggests the decision could do more to hinder the local tourism industry than help it.

"I think it'll have an adverse effect on all of the southern Riverina. The Government has mentioned a number of times how tourism will be the saviour in these national parks," he said.

"We are yet to see that in the national park they've just created about four five years ago in Balranald. If anything it'll reduce tourism."

The Riverina timber industry is disappointed with the decision.

The executive director of the New South Wales Forest Products Association, Russ Ainely, says more than 500 people will lose their jobs.

"Well everybody I've spoken to is appalled by this decision and this assistance that's to be provided to the mills and the industries that operates there is about half of what was offered to the Brigalow mills over five years ago," he said.

Mr Ainley says very little of the $80 million support package will go to those who are directly affected.

"Most of that will disappear into all sorts of national parks funding and exercises there, as far as supporting the industries and the people that are affected, I suppose I could best describe it as miserable," he said.

In contrast, the National Parks Association (NPA) has criticised the Government decision, especially the plan to allow logging to continue in internationally significant wetlands.

Spokeswoman Carmel Flint says she is stunned that logging will continue in the Millewa Forest for at least another five years.


We need to wake up and we need to save the planet from ourselves, not for ourselves.... not interfering with biodiversity is a stylistic and generous must.


Gus Leonisky

saved by a garden gnome...

The International Year of Biodiversity is built on celebrating and communicating the examples of communities, governments and organizations that have been able to achieve the 2010 Biodiversity Target at different levels. Their stories will themselves become messages and models for future policy and action. They will be presented in a way that highlights their economic contribution to the lives of communities. The particularly important role of Indigenous and Local Communities will also be highlighted. Other examples of “2010 Success Stories” will be the work of the scientific community; the latest developments in biodiversity science.

Welcome to the “Success Stories” clearing-house. This is where communities and organizations and partners advertise their stories and demonstrate how these will help us all work to achieve the goals of a broader vision for safeguarding biodiversity in the decades to come.

We invite you to share YOUR “Success Stories” with the rest of the world! Tell us your story, and give us the following details by email:

  • the name of your story
  • where it takes place (country and city or region)
  • a brief description (200 words) of what was achieved and the lessons learned
  • a link to your website
  • a copy of any documents you think would help people to understand your work


And while a stick-insect is saved in a garden by a gnome, an entirely unknown species of slow-moving banksia is being napalmed to the shouts of "BANZAI!" by governments and "green"-lighted businesses... Er, you know what I mean....

nature in peril...

from the New York Times

Divide and Diminish



This week, I want to dust off my crystal ball and make a prediction: in the future, the biggest land animals will be smaller than they are now.

Here’s why I think so. As a rule of thumb, larger animals need more food than smaller animals; they also need more space. Obviously, it takes more land to grow 100 rhinoceroses than it does to grow 100 rabbits. One hundred tigers require more land than 100 foxes. Indeed, meat-eaters, being higher in the food chain, need even more space than plant-eaters. For land mammals, every kilogram of prey supports just 9 grams of carnivore. So to feed one tiger of 180 kilos, you need 20 tonnes of prey. To support a breeding population of tigers, you need rather more. (For non-metric types, 2.2 pounds of prey feeds one third of an ounce of carnivore; a tiger weighs about 400 pounds and needs 22 tons of prey.)

Which has the following consequences. On islands, there’s a relationship between the size of the island and the size of the largest animals that live there. Enormous animals don’t live on tiny, or even medium-sized islands — they can’t. Moreover, an island of a given size will be home to more large herbivores than large carnivores.

When we break up rainforests or steppes, or build roads through pristine landscapes, we start to fray the fabric of nature.


Gus: when for example a minister "saves" 80 per cent of a forest say, it can be done in a way in which "only 20 per cent" stays pristine. I can demonstrate this with graphs and charts but trust me, it can be done. see toon at top and comment below it...

With my own crystal ball I can predict that, the way we are dealing with nature, many species, big and small, will disappear... while some will run riot, like rabbits, humans and cockroaches — all getting more and resilient to stronger diseases, insecticides, humanicide (killers of the human nature — such as violent video games) — and all getting fatter but degenerated though, especially the hamburger generation... I may be wrong about the rabbits...

woeful implementation...

The world's governments will not meet their internationally-agreed target of curbing the loss of species and nature by 2010, a major study has confirmed.

Virtually all species and ecosystems show continued decline, while pressures on nature are increasing, it concludes.

Published in the journal Science, the study confirms what conservationists have known for several years.

The 2010 target was adopted in 2002, but the scientists behind this study say implementation has been "woeful".


see toon at top...

the chimp inside all of us...


homo rattus rattus...

from the BBC

Brown rats are among the most invasive mammals in Europe, according to a wide-ranging assessment.

Swiss researchers found that the creatures, along with sika deer and muskrats, were having the greatest ecological and economic impact.

The team considered a range of measurements, including the threats to native species and how widely the alien species had become established.

The findings have been published in the journal Conservation Biology.

The scientists said they had developed a scoring system that compared the impact of non-native species across the taxonomic group of mammals.

"This scoring can be used to identify the most harmful alien species, so that conservation measures to ameliorate their negative effects can be prioritised," they wrote.

"Alien invasive species are a large threat to biodiversity and the economic damage that they cause exceeds 5% of the global gross product."


Gus: And there I was in my hammock, mocking Homo sapiens as the most invasive species on earth... But for Australia, the cane toad is the beast to beat with boots...

praying for the planet


picture by Gus. Note the spider in the top right corner.

life processes under threat...

Basics of life under threat as extinctions accelerate

May 11, 2010


KEY natural processes that sustain human life, such as crop production and clean water, face a high risk of ''rapid degradation and collapse'' because of the record rate of extinction of animal and plant species.

That is the key finding of a major United Nations report, the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook.

The executive-secretary of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, said: ''The news is not good. We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history - extinction rates may be up to 1000 times higher than the historical background rate.

''Business as usual is no longer an option if we are to avoid irreversible damage to the life-support systems of our planet.''

The Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, said the world needed a ''new vision for biological diversity for a healthy planet and a sustainable future for humankind''.


see toon at top and read more at ther SMH

give four millions per year...

The Prime Minister has been accused of reversing his position on several things: asylum seekers, the emissions trading scheme, schools, pink batts. But there is one promise he really should consider keeping – and it actually belongs to the bloke who had the job before him.

In 2007, former prime minister John Howard promised $500,000 over four years to help save the endangered orang-utans in Indonesian forests after meeting a young boy with a love of orang-utans. Howard suffered the usual foolish headlines about being a monkey's uncle, but it was a noble intention.

And humans really should care about orang-utans. Last year the University of Pittsburgh released a study that claimed orang-utans may be mankind's closest relative, sharing some 28 unique physical characteristics with them – compared with only two with chimps, previously considered our closest relative. The study was considered controversial by some, but there is little doubt that the orang-utan and the other great apes remain connected with us on the tree of life on a deep level.

In the cynical world of politics, where every announcement and decision is examined scrupulously for electoral advantage, offering to help an endangered species when Howard knew he would be held up for derision was a courageous decision.

And the world is now full of endangered species. The UN recently reported that fishing as an industry could be ruined by 2050 due to overfishing, leaving millions of fishermen unemployed. And this year's UN Global Biodiversity Outlook described the declines in biodiversity "alarming" and that we are reaching a "tipping point" where many plant and animal species are at risk and the deforestation of the world could lead to irreversible damage to the planet.


Save the forests, save the orang-utans – and help save our world.

stop the destruction...


UN says case for saving species 'more powerful than climate change'


The economic case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change, a major report for the United Nations will declare this summer.

The Stern report on climate change, which was prepared for the UK Treasury and published in 2007, famously claimed that the cost of limiting climate change would be around 1%-2% of annual global wealth, but the longer-term economic benefits would be 5-20 times that figure.

The UN's biodiversity report – dubbed the Stern for Nature – is expected to say that the value of saving "natural goods and services", such as pollination, medicines, fertile soils, clean air and water, will be even higher – between 10 and 100 times the cost of saving the habitats and species which provide them.

To mark the UN's International Day for Biological Diversity tomorrow, hundreds of British companies, charities and other organisations have backed an open letter from the Natural History Museum's director Michael Dixon warning that "the diversity of life, so crucial to our security, health, wealth and wellbeing is being eroded".

The UN report's authors go further with their warning on biodiversity, by saying if the goods and services provided by the natural world are not valued and factored into the global economic system, the environment will become more fragile and less resilient to shocks, risking human lives, livelihoods and the global economy.

grim and grimmer

From the ABC

Conservation groups have accused the Federal Government of failing to protect the koala under national laws.

The Commonwealth is currently considering a plan to make the koala "conservation dependent", which would see the states play a role in removing threats such as developments that could destroy koala habitats.

But Deborah Tabart from the Australian Koala Foundation says the states have failed so far and the koala needs greater protection if it is to survive.

"Here we have an animal that should be listed by the Federal Government," she said.

"'Conservation dependent' basically means nothing. You can still leave the decision-making to the states or local governments, and that's seen thousands of koalas die.

"We all know that the states haven't been able to protect the koala in the last 200 years. Why would we think they could in the future?

"I am so disappointed in Minister [Peter] Garrett."

Ms Tabart says there are as few as 43,000 koalas left in Australia.


Gus : in the article at top, below the toon I wrote:

Sure, "environmental impact study statements" are performed like eco-dances to minimise the damage to the image of destruction and to show that "we care", but eventually the koala colony disappears from proximity with "development" and the following pronouncement can then be made "the koalas were on their way out of there anyway... see we did everything to "protect" them... but they went...".

... and in satirical jest, I took my hat off:

Thus in the spirit of biodiversity and protection of ecosystems, I'd like to salute 80 per cent of Frank Sartor who saw fit to protect 80 per cent of the river red gums and help loggers train in other professions. As long as. in the future, no new minister decides again in an environmental move to "save" 80 per cent of what's left... This, of course, would leave only 64 per cent of the original red gums... Then could come another minister in search of green glory and in a generous eco-mood deciding to "save" 80 per cent of what's left, leaving us with only half of the original stand... This has been the clever way by which much of the destruction of eco-systems is done, by political compromises. Bit by bit, "saving the rest for the future" till another minister comes along and take another bite out of it, grand-standing in the act of saving the rest... Gus has seen that before...


What I have seen too, is saving the wood "not the forest". I mean one can save "80 per cent of the trees" by logging ONE IN FIVE trees in the entire forest — destroying 100 per cent of the integrity of the forest in the process. This process allows for alien species to invade the space, including fungus that could kill many of the trees left. Nothing new... we delude ourselves with stats... The status of the koala population is grim — grimmer than what we realise...

the shifting-baseline syndrome

Michael McCarthy: The tragic loss of British wildlife


Some truths are never voiced because they are virtually impossible to perceive. For example, I have never heard anyone declare how appallingly impoverished Britain's wildlife is. That's not the subject of a national debate (although it ought to be). That's not even a national perception. In fact, I don't know if it's anybody's perception. But it's no less than the truth.

I have spent most of my life hearing time and again a peculiarly smug proposition, which is that "Britain's xxxx is the best in the world." Fill in the exes at your leisure from a long list: civil service, dinner-party conversation, breadth of heritage, movie technology, sense of humour, overseas broadcasting, gentlemen's tailoring, armed forces, you name it. It's a statement which trips ever so comfortably off the tongue. But how would you like to be told: "Britain's wildlife is among the poorest in the world"? How would that look on a tourist poster?

Not that what we have isn't wonderful in itself, not that we don't cherish every feather, every flower, every footprint of it. But the fact remains that our wildlife today, British biodiversity, is but a mean, miserly fraction of what its true, "natural" level is, of what it has been in the past and what it really ought to be. And we are blind to the fact.

The reason is a curious one: every generation tends to take what it finds around it to be the norm. American marine biologists have coined an evocative term for this: the shifting-baseline syndrome, first applied to the management of fish stocks. You may think that the baseline, or natural state, of a stock is what it was at the start of your career, yet actually it may once have been very much greater. And of course this applies right across the natural world – to poppies, to skylarks, to tortoiseshell butterflies, of which your grandparents saw thousands, your parents saw hundreds, you saw dozens, and your children will see the odd one and never apprehend there is anything amiss. They will gaze on impoverishment and take it as standard.


see toon and story at top...

better late than never...

An international meeting has given the green light to the formation of a global "science policy" panel on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Proponents say the new body will "bridge the gulf" between scientific research and urgent political action needed to halt biodiversity loss.

More than 230 delegates from 85 nations backed the proposals at a five-day UN meeting in Busan, South Korea.

The international panel is expected to be formally endorsed in 2011.

Among the main roles of the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) will be to carry out peer reviews of scientific literature in order to provide governments with "gold standard" reports.

It is expected that the IPBES will be modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which plays a major role in shaping global climate policy.

'Historic agreement'

"The dream of many scientists in both developed and developing countries has been made a reality," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).

biodiversity versus small bucks...

About 270 tonnes of illegal bushmeat could be passing through one of Europe's busiest airports each year, the first study of its kind estimates.

A team of researchers says the illicit trade could pose a risk to human or animal health and increase the demand for meat from threatened species.

The figure is based on seizures from searches carried out over 17 days at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

The findings appear in the journal Conservation Letters.

A team of researchers from France, Cambodia and the UK said it was the "first systematic study of the scale and nature of this international trade".

"We estimate that about five tonnes of bushmeat per week is smuggled in personal baggage through Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport," they wrote.

During the 17-day study, a total of 134 passengers arriving on 29 flights from 14 African nations were searched.

Nine people were found to be carrying bushmeat, which had a combined mass of 188kg.

In total, 11 species were found - including two types of primates, two kinds of crocodiles and three rodent species - four of which were listed as protected species.


see toon at top...

of Africa's indigenous livestock...

The genetic diversity of Africa's indigenous livestock needs to be tapped before it is lost forever, researchers have warned.

They said native breeds had adapted to tolerate parasites or produce "robust" milk yields in harsh conditions.

Writing in the journal science, they added that these traits had yet to be unlocked by the scientific community.

But indigenous breeds were dying out as farmers switched to "exotic" cattle from developed nations, they observed.

"African cattle are just another species of ruminants in a landscape already full of ruminants, and they have adapted to this environment," explained co-author Olivier Hanotte from the University of Nottingham's Institute of Genetics.


see top toon...

protecting more...

Australian scientists say they have come up with a more cost-effective way to preserve biodiversity.

Ecologist Dr Richard Fuller, from the University of Queensland and CSIRO, and colleagues, report their findings today in the journal Nature.

"It's a potentially controversial idea because we're talking about reorganising the way the [reserve] system is put together," says Fuller.

Fuller says the traditional approach to conserving biodiversity is to gradually increase the number of protected sites, but this doesn't consider how effective the existing reserve system is.

"In conservation we can't just go to the best places for biodiversity. We've got to consider how much it costs," says

In the past, says Fuller, a protected area's biodiversity was not necessarily a criterion for its selection.

"Essentially we're very good at protecting land we don't need for anything else," he says.


At last someone starts to understand where "we've been going wrong" but this does not mean we have to dice the areas, that we cannot use, away from conservation... In my book, it means that we have to protect MORE... See toon at top...


Workmen painting white lines on a road left a gap for a dead badger because they said it was not their responsibility to move it.

The animal had been killed about a week before on the A338 near Downton, on the Hampshire-Wiltshire border.

Hampshire County Council said the workers did what they thought "was best" because it is the district council's job to remove carcasses.

The badger has now been removed and the painting will be completed on Friday.

The county council said there would be no extra cost to taxpayers because the company was being paid a fixed rate for the job.


This is the way it's done in Aussieland...:


biodiversity loss...

Talk has not halted biodiversity loss - now it's time for action

Help us compile a list of 100 tasks that G20 governments should undertake to prove their commitment to tackling the biodiversity crisis


It's on course to make the farcical climate talks in Copenhagen look like a roaring success. The big international meeting in October which is meant to protect the world's biodiversity is destined to be an even greater failure than last year's attempt to protect the world's atmosphere. Already the UN has conceded that the targets for safeguarding wild species and wild places in 2010 have been missed: comprehensively and tragically.

In 2002, 188 countries launched a global initiative, usually referred to as the 2010 biodiversity target, to achieve by this year a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss. The plan was widely reported as the beginning of the end of the biodiversity crisis. But in May this year, the Convention on Biological Diversity admitted that it had failed. It appears to have had no appreciable effect on the rate of loss of animals, plants and wild places.

In a few weeks, the same countries will meet in Nagoya, Japan and make a similarly meaningless set of promises. Rather than taking immediate action to address their failures, they will concentrate on producing a revised target for 2020 and a "vision" for 2050, as well as creating further delays by expressing the need for better biodiversity indicators. In many cases there's little need for more research. It's not biodiversity indicators that are in short supply; but any kind of indicator that the member states are willing to act.


see toon at top and comment below it...

extinction looming...

Feral cats wiping out endangered bush species


A new report from the Nature Conservancy has found that mammal species in northern Australia are in rapid decline and many are at risk of becoming extinct within the next decade.

At least a dozen species are listed as critical or endangered and another dozen are thought to be vulnerable.

Researchers believe the problem is getting worse and feral cats and fire management are largely to blame for the decline.

The head of biodiversity for the Northern Territory Environment Department, Professor John Woinarski, says the mostly small and furry creatures are under immense pressure and in many cases are living on borrowed time.

"When I came here 25 years or so ago it was a paradise for native mammals and that's just not the case anymore," he said.

"It's perplexing. Much of the landscape still looks extraordinarily intact and natural and extensive and beautiful, but some of the species are clearly falling out of that landscape.

"It's been a difficult task for us to figure out what's causing that decline, given the apparent naturalness of landscape.

"We think that the main contributing factors are predation by feral cats and changed fire regimes."

Professor Woinarski says it is one of the region's smaller inhabitants that may be the next victim.

"There's a beautiful rodent called a brush-tailed rabbit rat which is a guinea pig-sized animal but with a beautiful long feathery tail," he said.

"We're witnessing its really rapid decline over the last two decades. It's disappeared from a lot of places where formally it was very common and it's the one I'd pick as the most likely for extinction in the next 10 or so years.

"But there's a range of others which are similarly declining in more or less the same sort of synchrony I guess."

Russian seed bank under threat?...

One of the biggest and most important seed banks in the world is at risk of being replaced by a private housing development.

The facility near the Russian city of St Petersburg houses thousands of varieties of plants, not found anywhere else in the world.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker reports from Pavlovsk in the St Petersburg region.

governments must protect nature...

Governments must protect nature better in order to safeguard their countries' wealth, says the UN, as ministers meet for a day of talks on biodiversity.

The session at UN headquarters co-incides with the final day of talks on the Millennium Development Goals, and the UN says the two issues are linked.

Delegates will discuss why they have failed to meet a 2010 target for curbing loss of biodiversity.

Conservationists are calling for at least a 10-fold increase on spending.

catastrophic decline of life on the planet...

George Monbiot and Guillaume Chapron

In less than a month, unless we can rouse sufficient public indignation to avert it, a widespread suspicion that humanity is incapable of looking after this planet will be confirmed. The world's governments will meet at Nagoya in Japan to discuss the catastrophic decline of life on the planet. The outcome is expected to be as tragic and as impotent as the collapse of last year's climate talks in Copenhagen.

We cannot accept this. We cannot stand back and watch while the wonders of this world are sacrificed to crass carelessness and short-termism. So, a few weeks ago, the Guardian launched the Biodiversity 100 campaign to prod governments into action. We asked the public and some of the world's top ecologists to help us compile a list of 100 specific tasks that will show whether or not governments are serious about protecting biodiversity. Each task would be aimed at a government among the G20 nations, and they would be asked to sign up to it at Nagoya.

The threat hanging over these talks is not the same as in Copenhagen. We anticipate no high drama, no ultimata or walkouts. The danger is not that the governments discussing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will fail to agree, but that they will agree all too easily: to a set of proposals so vague, so lacking in either content or ambition that they can do nothing to address the extinction crisis facing animals and plants all over the world.The result will not just be the loss of species but also the "work" they do for the environment — cleaning water, absorbing carbon and improving soils.

Unless something changes, governments intend to decide that wild species and wild places will not be allowed to compete with special interest groups or industrial lobbyists, however narrow their interests or perverse their desires. Wildlife doesn't fund political parties, control newspapers or threaten to take its business elsewhere. As soon as money can be made from its destruction, it goes.

see toon and article at top...

this is more than serious....

Wildlife in the tropics, especially in poorer countries, is rapidly disappearing as human demands on natural resources soar beyond what the Earth can sustain, a new report reveals.

In an authoritative and ominous warning, the 2010 Living Planet Report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the definitive survey on the state of the planet's health, signals that that tropical ecosystems are being degraded and tropical species are declining at an increasingly rapid rate, with the world's population now consuming the output of one-and-a-half sustainable Earths.

The report's Living Planet Index, which measures changes in nearly 8,000 distinct local populations of more than 2,500 animal species, shows a remarkable aggregate wildlife decline in the tropics – Central and South America, Central Africa, Asia and the Indo-Pacific region – of 60 per cent in 40 years.


What we  — all our blind leaders, political and religious — don't seem to realise is that in another 40 years, more than 60 per cent of that 40 per cent left will be gone too... This will leave us with barely 16 per cent of what was 40 years ago (1970)... another 20 years and the sea would be mostly bare apart from a few resilient jellyfish feeding on crap... The mega-catastrophe is looming...

Unfortunately, over-population is desired by the capitalist profiterers... Decimation of nature is eagerly wanted by the developers... The rare pockets of natural refuge will vanish under the "needs" of the human species that is shooting itself in the foot by destroying its environmental origins...

an advertising campaign for biodiversity

When 2010 was named as the "year of biodiversity" by the UN, it began with a plea to save the world's ecosystems.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "Biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning... its continued loss, therefore, has major implications for current and future human well-being."

Radio 4's The World Tonight asked four experts what can be done to raise awareness of the issues surrounding biodiversity.

Gus: one of the major concern here is that the reporting of loss of species is quasi-episodic and not a sustained effort by our modern (twitter, internet) and older media formats (TV, newspapers).

I am thus proposing here that anyone advertising on TV or anywhere else pay an extra tax deductible sum equivalent to 2.5 per cent of their advertising budget, in order to finance dedicated advertising campaigns to "educate" the public to the concept, the reality and the value of bio-diversity. By law, each second sets of normal advertising segments would also have to contain at least one short 15 second segment on the value and the understanding (and the threats to) of animal and plant diversity. Repeat the message, modify the message to refresh it... etc until 95 per cent of people understand bio-diversity like they understand McDonald's.

This major ceaselessly reinforced campaign would have to be fearless in exposing how bio-diversity is made vulnerable by some of our industries (if not all) and over population. This campaign would encourage people to only buy product from environmentally responsible firms that practice "sustainability"..

That would soon get the message across. The same process should also apply for Global Warming with the latest updates and data to help a greater understanding of this subjet.

the extinction of life...

A major UN meeting aimed at finding solutions to the world's nature crisis has opened in Japan.

Species are going extinct at 100-1,000 times the natural rate, key habitat is disappearing, and ever more water and land is being used to support people.

Some economists say this is already damaging human prosperity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting is discussing why governments failed to curb these trends by 2010, as they pledged in 2002.

Jochen Flasbarth, president of the German Federal Environment Agency, and outgoing chairman of the convention, said the world had failed to even slow the loss of biodiversity.

"We are still losing the richness, the beauty, and the natural capital of our planet," he said. "Virgin forests of the size of Greece are cut down every year."



picture by Gus...

sad poaching for ivory...

In one of the deadliest poaching massacres in decades, at least 200 elephants were killed at Bouba N’Djida National Park in northeastern Cameroon, the Associated Press reports. That’s at least half of the elephants at the remote wildlife reserve.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the poachers have been arriving on horseback over the past few months, likely from Sudan and Chad. In the latest incident, soldiers arrived at the park but found they were too late — not to mention too few. One soldier reportedly died in the clash as Cameroonian forces attempted to deter the poachers. The remaining soldiers confiscated 49 tusks, indicating that 25 elephants had been killed in the ongoing massacre. The WWF and the European Union had been pressuring Cameroon’s government to take action, prompting the west African nation to send 150 soldiers to the park on March 1.

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species dying in the path of oncoming trade...


Scientists link imports of commodities such as tea, coffee and palm oil to habitat destruction and find UK alone threatens 285 species

BY Anna McKie LAST UPDATED AT 17:22 ON Thu 7 Jun 2012

BRITAIN IS one of the worst contributors to the destruction of global biodiversity through the goods it imports. As such it is a major offender in the Earth’s “sixth major extinction event”.

The UK comes fifth in a league table compiled by Australian researchers. The only countries which outdo us are Japan, France and Germany, with the USA taking the top spot for the most devastating consumption habits.

The wildlife of Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are some of the worst affected by international demand for their exports.

The report published in the journal Nature links the IUCN Red List of threatened species with data on trade in 15,000 commodities. "This is the first time, to our knowledge, that the important role of international trade and foreign consumption as a driver of threats to species has been comprehensively quantified," say the authors, led by Dr Manfred Lenzen of the University of Sydney.

"We found that 30 per cent of global species threats are due to international trade.


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see toon at top and read article below it...

near the brink of extinction...


5 of the Most Endangered Species on the Planet
This year experts at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have put together a list of the world's 100 most endangered animals and plants. These species are near the brink of extinction—each with a population that is dwindling fast—but also species that human beings have little use for. That's a problem because the calculus of conservation is increasingly being driven by economics. So IUCN's new list is dedicated to the highly endangered species that may be allowed to die out because they don't provide humans with clear benefits. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve to live.

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Increasingly driven by economics?... No, economics never cared about extinction... NEVER, never, never... It's only now that, as we pay a small attention to species biting the dust, we realise our economic system is actually doing the killing — by destruction of habitat, pollution, pets, diseases... you name it. And few of us are caring enough to change our ways... See toon at top...

an extinction some of us won't mourn...

THE STORY of Gunns is a parable of corporate hubris. You can, as they did, corrupt the polity, cow the media, poison public life and seek to persecute those who disagree with you. You can rape the land, exterminate protected species, exploit your workers and you can even poison your neighbours. But the naked pursuit of greed at all costs will in the end destroy your public legitimacy and thus ensure your doom. Gunns was a rogue corporation and its death was a chronicle long ago foretold. The sadness is in the legacy they leave to Tasmania — the immense damage to its people, its wildlands, and its economy.

Opposition to Gunns long ago outgrew any conservation group and Gunns were in the end undone by the many, many, people who refused to give in to their threats, lies and intimidation. It was the small victories of the little people that ended up delaying the project until it disappeared into the fantastical realms of commercial impossibility.

Yet for a decade, the only policy either major party has had has been Gunns and Gunns pulp mill. Of the former ex-premier Jim Bacon, near his death, confessed to Peter Cundall that ‘the forestry industry were too strong’ for him to take on. Of the latter, Premier Giddings observed not so long ago that ‘the pulp mill was no longer the icing on the cake for Tasmania, but the cake itself’.

Gunns and Roses...

running out of place to live...


Great apes, such as gorillas, chimps and bonobos, are running out of places to live, say scientists.

They have recorded a dramatic decline in the amount of habitat suitable for great apes, according to the first such survey across the African continent.

Eastern gorillas, the largest living primate, have lost more than half their habitat since the early 1990s.

Cross River gorillas, chimps and bonobos have also suffered significant losses, according to the study.

Details are published in the journal Diversity and Distributions.

"Several studies either on a site or country level indicated already that African ape populations are under enormous pressure and in decline," said Hjalmar Kuehl, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, who helped organise the research.


see toon at top...


poison them birds, my dear fellow...

The Wildlife minister, Richard Benyon, has been accused of being "the gamekeeper's friend" by refusing to outlaw a poison used by some to kill protected birds of prey on shooting estates.

Mr Benyon, a millionaire landowner who is strongly associated with shooting interests and owns both a pheasant shoot in Berkshire and a Scottish grouse moor, has declined a request from senior MPs to make possession of the poison, carbofuran, a criminal offence – as is the case in Scotland.

The effect of his refusal is to make a substance which is particularly deadly to birds of prey, despite it being a banned chemical with no legitimate use whatsoever, still available to any gamekeepers who wish to get rid of raptors illegally when they are perceived to be predating on gamebirds.

His stance, which is only the latest controversy arising from Mr Benyon's personal involvement with game shooting policy, met with fierce criticism yesterday. "The minister's shocking refusal to outlaw the possession of a poison used only by rogue gamekeepers to illegally kill birds of prey would be inexplicable were it not for his own cosy links to the shooting lobby," said the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

"Instead of protecting the interests of his friends on the shooting estates and undermining the wellbeing of British wildlife, the minister should be following the ad vice of MPs and the Scottish precedent by making carbofuran possession a criminal offence."

business killing science...


It is the gift shop that will not keep on giving.

For years, the Charles Darwin Foundation's Research Station on the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador operated a small store to help it get by in lean times -- selling mostly clothing with the foundation's logo. But then it added swimsuits, sunglasses, Ecuadorian chocolate and artwork, and the local traders cried foul. The town's mayor agreed and shut down the store.

Now the oldest and most prominent research organization in the famed archipelago that inspired Darwin's masterwork "On the Origin of Species" says that, as a result of the loss of the store, it is flat broke and could cease to exist before Christmas...


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defending biodiversity....

When the fisherman leveled his spear gun and fired at her across the dark water, Evelyn Malicay held her ground in her kayak, gripping a stone to defend herself. This was her backyard, the marine sanctuary she had helped create and felt a duty to protect.

The spear missed. Ms. Malicay’s efforts to catch yet another late-night poacher did not. “What they do not know,” she said, recalling that night several years ago when she called the police on the man, “is that I am always on watch.”

Ms. Malicay, 53, a compact, vibrant Filipina mother who years ago lost her village council seat over her support for the Maite Marine Sanctuary, has since apprehended neighbors and relatives fishing inside it, recruited dozens of community members to back her and won numerous awards for her championship of marine conservation.


The sanctuary, just steps away from her home, is one of the most successful of the 22 marine protected areas on the island of Siquijor in the south-central Philippines, at the heart of the species-rich Coral Triangle. This no-fishing zone shares one uncommon asset with a variety of other unusually successful conservation projects around the globe: It’s run by women.


Globally, commitments to conservation have been marked by failure. Last year, just as the World Economic Forum identified the accelerating loss of biodiversity as one of the most critical threats to the global economy — threatening “the collapse of food and health systems” and “the disruption of entire supply chains,” according to their annual Global Risk Report — the United Nations issued a damning summary of progress toward the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2020 targets, which were agreed upon a decade ago by nearly every nation.

“Humanity stands at a crossroads,” the U.N. report read. More than 190 nations had collectively missed every target.

As those reports were being published, Robyn James, a Nature Conservancy gender and equity adviser based in Australia, was concluding a review of her own, looking at hundreds of studies from around the world to consider whether engaging women in conservation and natural resource management increases the impact of those projects.

The environmental sector has been slower to address gender inequity than other sectors, like development and business, Ms. James co-wrote in Oryx — The International Journal of Conservation. The six-author study showed that in countries from Nepal to Cameroon, Australia to Canada, women are excluded from roles in conservation and natural resource management. But in landscapes and organizations where they are meaningfully included, environmental outcomes improve.


Case studies they considered show that when women lead in conservation, indicators of success like solidarity, rule compliance and forest and fishery regeneration often go up, even as these women face doubt, discrimination and even threats of violence.


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