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Valuing nature for its own sake, and ours

At last, governments are starting to use a different language to value our environment, with a slow building of awareness that our environment can be valued using an Ecosystem Goods & Services approach. Although a relatively new way of measuring value, attributing tangible benefit to nature is going to be key if we are to prevent the destruction of our own as well as, in some cases, the majority of other species.

On 2 July, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published an update on their threatened species survey, which makes stark reading. It's essential that our economic development takes biodiversity into account at a serious, strategic level, and that as citizens, we take action. Extracts from the report follow:

In Europe, 38% of all fishes are threatened and 28% in Eastern Africa. The high degree of connectivity in freshwater systems, allowing pollution or invasive species to spread rapidly, and the development of water resources with scant regard for the species that live in them, are behind the high level of threat.

“a broad range of marine species are experiencing potentially irreversible loss due to over-fishing, climate change, invasive species, coastal development and pollution.

“At least 17% of the 1,045 shark and ray species, 12.4% of groupers and six of the seven marine turtle species are threatened with extinction.

“27% of the 845 species of reef building corals are threatened, 20% are Near Threatened and there is not enough data for 17% to be assessed.

“Marine birds are much more threatened that terrestrial ones with 27.5% in danger of extinction, compared with 11.8% of terrestrial birds.

The report shows nearly one third of amphibians, more than one in eight birds and nearly a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction.

“For some plant groups, such as conifers and cycads, the situation is even more serious, with 28 percent and 52% threatened respectively. For all these groups, habitat destruction, through agriculture, logging and development, is the main threat and occurs worldwide.

Climate change is not currently the main threat to wildlife, but this may soon change... a significant proportion of species that are currently not threatened with extinction are susceptible to climate change, including 30% of non-threatened birds, 51% of non-threatened corals and 41% of non-threatened amphibians.


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