Scientist praises conservation in action
Earthwatch Research Manager Dr James Burton has praised the work of
Earthwatch's global network of scientists on the day a study about the
world's extinction crisis is launched in Nagoya, Japan.
The most comprehensive assessment of the world's vertebrates confirms
an extinction crisis with one fifth of species threatened, but
according to the study launched today at the 10th Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya,
Japan, the situation would be worse without current global conservation
Dolphins in the Amvrakikos Gulf.
Dr Burton said: "This paper shows that without the successful
conservation actions for many threatened species, these species would
be far closer to extinction. It is the first time that the impact of
conservation actions has been assessed across 25,000 species. This is a
rare opportunity for those achieving these actions to be recognised and
commended for their success. Many Earthwatch scientists are leading
these efforts, conducting research and implementing conservation
The study, to be published in the international journal Science, used data for 25,000 species from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,
to investigate the status of the world's mammals, birds, amphibians,
reptiles and fishes. The results show that on average, 50 species of
mammal, bird and amphibian move closer to extinction each year due to
the impacts of agricultural expansion, logging, over-exploitation and
invasive alien species.
While the study confirms previous reports of continued loses in
biodiversity, it is the first to present clear evidence of the positive
impact of conservation efforts around the globe. Results show that the
status of biodiversity would have declined by at least an additional 20
per cent if conservation action had not been taken.
The study involved around 174 authors from 115 institutions and 38
countries, including Dr James Burton and Earthwatch scientists Dr Caryn
Self-Sullivan and Dr David Garshelis.
Results from Earthwatch research have been making a contribution to
global conservation efforts since the organisation was founded almost
40 years ago. For example, efforts by Earthwatch scientists in Barbados
and other conservation organisations have caused a significant increase
in the number of nests of the critically endangered hawksbill turtle,
shown by data collected by volunteers. Recent findings suggest that
Barbados is now the second largest rookery of hawksbills in the wider
from Earthwatch research on Robben Island in South Africa has been used
to support an experimental programme of fishery closures, near penguin
colonies during the breeding season.
A recent UN-sponsored study called the Economics of Ecosystems and
Biodiversity (TEEB), calculated the cost of losing nature at $2-5
trillion per year, predominantly in poorer parts of the world.
Dr Burton added: "There is an increasing focus on evaluating
biodiversity and the vital services that nature provides. This is one
of the key stories coming from CBD's COP10 Nagoya meeting, as the TEEB
report is launched. As species conservation moves into the mainstream,
it will mean that conservation actions have to result in greater
achievements. So conservationists, scientists and ‘citizen scientists'
can learn lessons from these findings to improve conservation successes