Rethinking Global Biodiversity Strategies

date: 2010-10-05

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The mere protection of valuable nature areas, although still necessary, will not be sufficient for reducing global biodiversity loss in the coming decades. Population growth and rising prosperity, together, create an ever increasing pressure on global ecosystems through growing demand for land and agricultural products. To strongly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, structural changes in consumption and production are needed. As meat production requires more agricultural land area than is used in arable farming, a reduction in meat consumption would be of great benefit. In addition, changes are needed especially in forestry, fishery and in the supply of energy.

Measures aimed solely at one sector, such as that of forestry or energy, only lead to limited improvements. Implementing measures collectively would yield far greater benefits. The effect from one such combination of measures was calculated, resulting in a halving of the projected global loss of biodiversity, up to 2050. Other measures or combinations of measures are also thinkable, but none will be able to halt this loss, completely. The combination of measures would also help to reduce climate change and increase food security.

This study was conducted by GLOBIO consortium partner PBL - The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, in collaboration with the Dutch Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI-WUR) and the University of British Columbia, Canada.The report is a contribution to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and was presented during the CBD COP10 meeting in Nagoya.

GLOBIO contribution

In this study, scenarios developed using the Integrated Assessment Model IMAGE 2.4 have been used to provide information on changes in key driving forces (population and income changes, land use and land cover change, climate change and nitrogen deposition) as input for the biodiversity assessment. Based on the IMAGE output, the GLOBIO model, including GLOBIO-aquatic, was used to calculate changes in the biodiversity indicators of the MSA framework (Ecosystem Extent, Mean Species Abundance, wilderness area). The same output also forms the basis for the indicator for the number of vascular plant species that have been applied. The EcoOcean model is used to evaluate the consequences of change in global fisheries and to calculate the depletion index.

Altogether eight possible measures to reduce biodiversity loss have been analysed (figure 1). The effects of a specific combination of measures have been calculated, to demonstrate their combined result (figure 2).

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Figure 1: Change in global biodiversity (in terms of MSA, Natural area and Wilderness area) per option compared to baseline scenario

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Figure 2: Prevented global biodiversity loss (in terms of MSA) compared to baseline scenario, 2000 - 2050

This study is not the first to indicate possible options, but a quantitative analysis of the effects of such options has not been conducted before. The analysed options also have been mentioned in many recent studies, such as the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD).

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