Trade-offs between biodiversity, economic gains, and social needs, and between
conservation and development need to be realistically acknowledged. A good way to acknowledge these mutually beneficial relationships is to set up programs that focus on the analysis of tradeoffs, such as the Global Invasive Species Program (GISP). GISP was established to address the problems associated with estimating the trade-offs between the social and economic aspects of invasive species control.
There are many costs and benefits associated with conservation to be considered. If certain costs, such as opportunity costs associated with a particular
conservation plan, are adjusted to reflect the positive benefits from the services provided
by that ecosystem, society could gain greater net benefits.
Response strategies are most successful when they provide local communities with
incentives to make management decisions with the idea of overall biodiversity
conservation in mind. However, communities often gain more economic benefits by
making decisions that actually lead to biodiversity loss. The best method to to maximize benefits would be to find a balance between the costs and benefits of the conservation plan, and then decide what the best incentives are for those directly affected by the plan.
Other Options for Control:
Tradable development permit programs
The correction of market failures and the internalization of environmental externalities that aid in the degradation of services provided by ecosystems.
The removal or redirection of the subsidies that are more harmful than beneficial and that stimulate excessive use of specific services provided by ecosystems.
Maximized coordination between different environmental agreements and other international economic and social policies.
Integrating issues of biodiversity conservation into management practices in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and forestry.
Ecosystem restoration is increasingly important since more and more ecosystems are being degraded, while at the same time there’s an increase in demand for their services. However, it is more expensive to restore ecosystems than it is to just protect the original ones. There are inherent differences in the resistance to change of different drivers and different aspects of biodiversity loss that make it challenging to set up goals for reversal or prevention over a single period of time. That being said, addressing the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss may require longer periods of time based on political, socioeconomic and demographic resistance to change.
Continued species protection and recovery measures for threatened species
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 has successfully brought some species back from the brink of extinction, but biodiversity is still declining rapidly throughout the planet. Protected areas are most successful if designed/managed with regard to the significance of interconnectivity within the ecosystem and while accounting for external threats like pollution and invasive species. In order to have successful protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, effective legislation and management, adequate resources, and involvement of stakeholders is crucial. The livelihoods of local people can be improved when resources are managed through participatory consultation and planning.
In order to be able to deal with problems such as impacts of human settlements or illegal harvesting of plants and animals, in a more efficient manner, protected areas need to have better locations, designs, and management. In order to encourage fair and equitable sharing of costs and benefits of the areas, we need to provide better policy and institutional options.
Convention on Biological Diversity
Current protected areas are not sufficient. One of the most significant current efforts to improve protected areas and preserve biodiversity is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD is a global treaty created in the early 1990s, and is the first international treaty that acknowledges the role biodiversity plays in sustainable development. 187 countries are signatories, and it has three main objectives, which include the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of all aspects of biodiversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits gained from the use of genetic resources.
The CBD reinforces its three objectives by acknowledging the fact that human beings
are a vital part of our ecosystems. The goal of the Strategic Plan, created at the 2004 Conference, was to reach a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at different levels (global, regional, and national) by the year 2010, as a way to help reduce poverty and for the overall benefit of life on Earth. There were seven focal areas of the Strategic Plan that the CBD hoped would provide governments, the private sector, and local communities with expectations and conditions that would give them with an idea of what and how to implement necessary changes, including;
Reducing the rate at which all aspects (habitats, species, genetic diversity, etc.) of biodiversity are lost.
Advocating for sustainable use of the services provided by biodiversity.
Dealing with all the major threats (invasive species, climate change, pollution, etc.) to biodiversity.
Maintaining the supply of goods and services provided by biodiversity and
maintaining ecosystem integrity, both in support of human well-being.
Preserving traditional knowledge, innovations, and practices from indigenous cultures.
Guaranteeing the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits gained from the utilization of genetic resources.
Encouraging financial and technical resources for countries to implement the Convention and Strategic Plan.
U.N. Environmental Program's International Year of Biodiversity: 2010
The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB), stressing that something must be done to halt the degradation of our ecosystems. At the end of the 20th century, intergovernmental organizations set 2010 as a timepoint by which the international community would reduce the rate of biodiversity loss across the globe. While the goals set forth at this time have largely not been reached, the UNEP has taken this opportunity to call global citizens to recognize the roll biodiversity plays in their everyday lives.
The UN hopes to promote increased awareness and action towards the prevention, conservation, and sustainable use of our planet’s diverse ecosystems. Many different countries are holding celebrations and events throughout 2010 commemorating the IYB. The United States celebrated the North American Launch of the International Year of Biodiversity this past February, and has about 18 more, some of which have already occurred, ending with the 2010 Global Summit in San Francisco this coming November. These events provide information about biodiversity loss and how human well-being is linked to it. The events also provide people with information on how they, as an individual and as a community, can help prevent more loss by making the right decisions that will reduce their community’s, and their own, impact on the environment.
In honor of the International Year of Biodiversity, many organizations are sponsoring and holding events and action plans aimed to promote awareness of biodiversity loss. UNESCO, the CBD, and other participants will be leading a number of activities, such as the International Conference on Biological and Cultural Diversity, with the goal to educate and spread awareness on why biodiversity conservation is so important and to further international action for sustainable use.
What can you do?
Public awareness, communication, and education is very important.
Individuals can help advocate for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use by demanding that the government take action at various levels.
Having a better understanding of the impact of biodiversity loss on your community and acting accordingly.
Sustainable consumption (organic foods, cleaner technology, etc.) can help reduce the impact of waste generated by our daily consumption of resources.
Finally, we need to remember that while some actions can be used to help reduce the drivers and their negative impacts on biodiversity, some change is inevitable and our ability to adapt to that change will become an increasingly important aspect to think about when designing and implementing response measures for the present and for the future.
About the ICUN Red List. 2009. International Union for Conservation of Nature. <http://cms.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/red_list/about_the_red_list/> Accessed: 1 May 2010.
Environment News Service. 2004. Austrailia documents unparalleled species loss. International Daily Newswire. <http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2003/2003-04-23-03.asp> Accessed: 1 May 2010.
"International Year of Biodiversity 2010." Ecological Sciences, UNESCO. 2010. <http://portal.unesco.org/science/en/ev.php-URL_ID=7998&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html>
Millenium Ecosystem Assesment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Biodiversity Synthesis.World Resources Institute, Washington, DC
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2006). Global Biodiversity Outlook 2. Montreal, 81 pages.