Loss of biodiversity cannot be stopped in the next 40 years, according to Dutch scientists. However, the good news is that a set of drastic measures can decrease the global loss of biodiversity by 50 percent between now and 2050.
This is the main conclusion of the work carried out by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and published today. The reportwas presented to the Dutch minister of Agriculture, who together with the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) commissioned the research which focuses on the necessary measures to reduce the global biodiversity loss. Special attention is given to the possible strategies which lead to structural changes in production and consumption.
The next 40 years the demand for food, energy and clean water will rise dramatically. The world population will grow from 6.8 to 9 billion people and the disposable income per person will increase. Agriculture and urbanization will compete with nature for the same land. This will affect biological diversity. It will further decrease, because of loss of nature, but also because of overexploitation, fragmentation and disruption of ecosystems, climate change and pollution of soil, water and air. This impairs ecosystem services like soil fertility, water regulation and carbon sequestration. These are good reasons to protect our remaining biodiversity as of today. In addition, many see the preservation of biodiversity and the preservation of valuable nature as a moral responsibility of mankind.
Though essential, the protection of valuable natural areas is not sufficient to reduce loss of biodiversity. To slow down the rate of biodiversity loss significantly, structural changes in consumption and production are necessary. There is much to be gained by reducing meat consumption. In addition, changes are required in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the energy supply system.
The measures mentioned in the report are neither new or unique, but the quantitative analysis of the effects of the options are novel. The options which have been researched can be found in many studies, for instance in the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 of the secretariate of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Dutch scientists avoided to be too ambitous in their analysis and took a feasible perspective as their goal.
The report will be presented to Achim Steiner, Executive Director van UNEP, during the next UN-meeting on biodiversity (COP10, Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity), 18 to 29 October in Nagoya, Japan.
(Source: website Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, 05.10.2010)