Wanted: your ideas to save species from extinction

Posted by jamie — 8 September 2010 at 7:00pm - Comments

By every measurable factor, biodiversity is up the creek with no sign of getting a paddle any time soon. International attempts to reverse the downward trend of species numbers through the Convention on Biological Diversity have failed, and the goals set by the CBD for this year have been missed.

As my colleague David Ritter notes on Global Policy: "This dismal assessment is of course not the fault of ... the CBD itself, but the parties to the Convention, namely the nations of the world. Indeed the CBD is an institution of obvious weakness, hostage always to national capitals and wider power politics. The CBD possesses no power to compel compliance or punish non-compliance."

Yet it would be absurd to give up the hope that something other than cockroaches and Japanese knot weed will be saved from the bonfire of the species we've ignited and fuelled. So the Biodiversity 100 campaign is an excellent opportunity to attempt something practical.

The idea, as explained by George Monbiot, is to compile a list of practical steps individual nations can take to stem the loss of biodiversity under their jurisdiction, outside the unwieldy architecture of international agreements. It's a rallying cry, a challenge and an affirmative action all in one. And everyone can contribute.

Use the form on the Guardian's website to submit your bright ideas which should be challenging and ambitious. No easy measures here, we need to think big. And ideally, it should be backed up with solid peer-reviewed science so provide references if you can.

If you're stuck for an idea to submit, here are a few we prepared earlier which would go a long way to helping our various campaigns. You'll need to select which country is responsible for taking action, so you could submit an idea asking:

  • all Arctic countries (the US, Canada, Russia, and various EU ones) to impose a moratorium on oil drilling in the frozen north, where a spill would be disastrous for whales, narwhals, dolphins, polar bears and bird breeding colonies and take far longer to clear up than in the Gulf of Mexico;
  • EU countries to implement a 'no take' (ie no fishing) policy for the most commercially endangered species in European waters, such as Atlantic bluefin tuna and North Sea cod;
  • the UK and other EU countries to ban bottom and beam trawling in their national waters which would reduce the amount of bycatch and help safeguard marine ecosystems such as cold water coral reefs and hydrothermal vents;
  • while we're at it, they could ban fish aggregating devices as well which contribute to the overfishing of many fish species;
  • EU countries to add a penalty system to the illegal timber legislation recently voted through the European parliament, so there are proper disincentives to importing timber which has been produced by destroying the rainforests of south-east Asia and central Africa;
  • and one for Indonesia: extend the proposed moratorium on deforestation and peatland clearance to include existing concessions granted to palm oil and paper companies like Sinar Mas, not just new concessions.

The preservation of one species or ecosystem does not compensate for the loss of another, but that doesn't mean we can't step in where the CBD has so spectacularly failed. Here's an opportunity to change that.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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