‘Biological diversity is life’

Until the 30th of May, the ninth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity takes places in Bonn, Germany. Since the convention has been called into being, after the Summit for Sustainable Development in 1992, the importance of biodiversity has only grown.
As well as the global warming as the increase in population, the quick economic growth in a number of countries and the intensive international transport put biodiversity world-wide under pressure. ‘One of the priorities of the meeting in Bonn is the sensibilization of the necessity for recovery and protection of the remaining ecological diversity’, says Els Martens of the Agency Nature and Forest of the Flemish Government. She folluws up the international aspects of nature conservation and biodiversity and participates in the conference herself.
‘Biodiversity is life and the services of ecosystems are the piles of surviving of humans on earth, but this awareness grows very slowly by the general public.’
Most hotspots of biodiversity are located in the south: the Amazon Basin, the Andes, the Mid-American corridor, Central Africa, Southeast Asia…Millions of poor are dependent on what nature gives to them for their daily surviving. As consequence, the degradation of nature gives greater poverty. But the regions of the hotspots contain minerals and ores, oil en rich types of wood which are considered as more important for economic growth than the preservation of biodiversity. A ball of interested parties in the same region gives serious problems on a regular base.
One of the most delicate themes on the agenda in Bonn, is the discussion on access to genetic material from nature. This issue is strongly related to the question about which parties may share in the profits of the genetic material. Towards 2010, the object is to create an international regime which can be enforced world-wide, a sort of protocol about what is called in jargon access and benefit sharing.
Another tricky point of discussion is the debate on the money value of ecosystems and of the services lend by nature. Such mechanisms are firstly meant for making extern costs visible and to adjust in the price of products and services, but can lead to misuse when no hard sustainabilty criterions are taken into account.
On European level, the project Natura 2000 was launched which supports the preservation of biodiversity. As part of Natura 2000, 18 percent of the European territory has been defined as protected area, about 1,6 million hectares. According to Els Martens, again the biggest problem is the lack of financial means to assure the sustainable use of open space and to support the measures for protection of ecosystems and species. The budget for the management of biodiveristy on European level is less than one percent of the budget for agriculture, while biodiversity has everything to do with health and quality of the environment.(adw

Countdown to 2010
To slow down the loss of biodiversity by 2010, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), launched the campaign Countdown 2010 in 2010. In our country, Limburg as first Belgian province, signed the IUCN-charter. Every city in Limburg engaged itself to protect the specific Limburg species on their territory. The province Antwerp followed in May. There, every city engaged to protect the systems of brooks – which means the whole ecosystem. By the next conference on biodiversity, in Japan in 2010, the final results of the Countdown 2010-campaign will be mapped and presented. (adw)

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