biodiversity


Unfortunately, the New Zealand Government wants to make a quick buck by mining some of the beautiful New Zealand forests which are home to Archey’s frogs (Leiopelma archeyi) and Hochstetter’s frogs (Leiopelma hochstetteri). If this goes ahead then we will be able to document the extinction of two more frog species.

Archey's Frog. Iamge: Patrick Crawley.

In the 1990s areas of New Zealand that were considered to be of “high conservation value” (including many National Parks) were placed on Schedule 4 which recognised their conservation significance and proclaimed them as a “No go” area for all other activities. The New Zealand Government is now asking for public submissions about their proposal to remove some of this high conservation value land from Schedule 4 to open it up for mining (coal, gold iron ore and rare minerals). The areas to be mined include several long-term frog monitoring sites where the frog populations have been continually monitored for over 40 years – this represents the best data on frog populations anywhere in the world.

In addition the proposed mining area includes the ‘type’ locality of Archey’s frog (Tokatea on the Coromandel Peninsula) and Hochstetter’s frogs (Coromandel Peninsula). Archey’s frogs only occur in two areas of New Zealand and the Coromandel is considered the ‘stronghold’ population.

“Save our frogs – stop the mining” really is the biggest issue in New Zealand conservation – of course saving the long-tailed bat, woodroses and a North Island brown kiwi along the way is important too!

These endangered frogs (Archey’s are Critically Endangered losing 88% of their population since 1996) are just hanging in there and without our help they will disappear. If we destroy their habitat then we will quickly lose a part of one of the most important pieces of New Zealand history as well as a large piece of the amphibian evolutionary tree. We have a moral obligation to protect these original inhabitants of New Zealand – the little people of the forest.

For more information on how the frogs will be affected (including maps of distribution and proposed areas to be mined) click here…… http://www.nzfrogs.org/

To see some ppt about the mining issue during a recent Panel Discussion (including frogs) click here……. http://www.otago.ac.nz/law/nrl/mining/index.html

For more information about the mining in Coromandel click here……. http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/threats-and-impacts-/mining-/mining-coromandel

Please make a submission to the New Zealand Government by clicking here ….. http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/mining

Six years ago, promises were made by governments from around the world involving the mass extinctions facing so many animal classes, chief among them the amphibian class. The governments vowed to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2o1o. Well, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) just issued a report that says, in essence, “let’s not kid ourselves, when next year comes around, it’s going to be bleak.”

IUCN, which puts out the Red List of most endangered species, has produced a 150-page report that details the loss of biodiversity earth has experienced over the last 5 years. “Biodiversity continues to decline and next year no one will dispute that,” said the report’s senior editor. “It’s happening everywhere.”

Here’s a link to story I just read about this.  (Click HERE.)

An excerpt from the IUCN Web site:

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 percent threatened respectively. For all these groups, habitat destruction, through agriculture, logging and development, is the main threat and occurs worldwide.

In the case of amphibians, the fungal disease chytridiomycosis is seriously affecting an increasing number of species, complicating conservation efforts. For birds, the highest number of threatened species is found in Brazil and Indonesia, but the highest proportion of threatened or extinct birds is found on oceanic islands. Invasive species and hunting are the main threats. For mammals, unsustainable hunting is the greatest threat after habitat loss. This is having a major impact in Asia, where deforestation is also occurring at a very rapid rate.

What Jennifer Holland has reported in National Geographic is one of the best summaries of the amphibian crisis I have read. The photos are beautiful, the anecdotes fresh and unforgettable. You need to read it. Click HERE.

Another example of human benefits of biodiversity. Story here. A while back I posted about amphibians also helping to rid the world of west nile virus bearing mosquitoes. Here is that post.

biodiversity-hotspot1

Applause applause !!! for Conservation International’s new Biodiversity Hotspots Web site and continued focus on biodiversity. The Web site invites us to explore the most critical regions for protecting the planet’s animal and plant life. What an uphill battle right now for biodiversity crusaders, though, as the world is distracted, to put it mildly, by the economic crisis. I used the Google Trends tool to see how much we’re using the Web to learn more about the economic crisis vs. what is happening to the creatures on this planet, and the snapshot below really tells the story. Note the upswing in Web activity re: the economy, the parallel track for global warming (which has a connection to economic activity) and the lack of uptick on biodiversity terms like extinction and endangered species.

Everybody, we just have to keep at it. And Conservation International is setting a great example for creativity and commitment.

google-trends-feb-091

NPR interviewed Dr. Paul Ehrlich, co-author of The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment, about the current dangers to biodiversity and what that means for the planet. He said that if we care anything about our children and grandchildren’s world, we need to mobilize as if we’re in another world. He criticizes the current political discourse about the environment as being fixated on simply drilling for more oil.

“Frogs are particularly worrying because … they sort of can be the canary in the coal mine…”

Listen here.

According to Mongabay, the United Nations through its Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is helping the developing world reduce carbon emissions by financing projects like hydroelectric dams. A new one under construction in Panama is pending carbon credit certification from CDM. Unfortunately, the dams can wipe out indigenous, fragile wildlife, arguably put something worse into the sky — and in the case of the Panama dam could displace an indigenous tribe. Excerpt:

The American firm (AES Corporation of Virginia) has requested carbon credit certification under the CDM for the project, claiming that the dam will help against global warming. However, recent research suggests that tropical dams release methane, a gas which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Beyond potential emissions from flooding, environmentalists say the dam threatens La Amistad Reserve, Central America’s largest intact rainforest. Biologists have counted more than 215 mammal species, 600 birds, 115 fish, 250 reptiles and amphibians to date in the reserve, including 180 plant species and 40 bird species found no-where else in the world. La Amistad’s biological stars include the quetzal, harpy eagle, howler monkey, jaguarondi, tiger-cat, tapir, and jaguar. In January scientists from the Natural History Museum of London announced three new species of salamander from the Costa Rican side of the park, proving that there was still much left undiscovered in La Amistad Reserve.

“It’s my job to be optimistic, but it’s a scary prospect. It’s difficult enough to convince people to save an elephant or a gorilla. It’s much harder to get them to care about a tiny tree frog.” 

Piotr Naskrecki, those of us who love amphibians know how you feel. I’ve been reading a gorgeous photography and essay book, The Smaller Majority, by Piotr Naskrecki. I emphasize that the book is more than scores of amazing photographs. Naskrecki, the director of Conservation International’s Invertebrate Diversity Initiative, and research associate at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, captures in words what so many of us with Amphibian Ark find so utterly frustrating as we attempt to draw attention to the crisis facing amphibians – and the seeming indifference to that plight. These are excerpts from the forward in the book I find so spot on:

“Most of animal life on Earth is small. Over 90 percent of known species are smaller than a human finger, smaller, in fact, than your fingernail. Our perspective on reality is severaly handicapped by our gargantuan size, rare giants surrounded by the smaller majority. Our enormous size prevents us from appreciating, or even noticing, most of what shares this planet with us and forces us to focus our attention on other equally large, or larger, creatures. We proclaim kinship with wolves and deer, even while we hold our breath before squeezing the trigger, and cultures across the globe revere eagles, bears, and lions, but few pay any attention to lizards and snails. Size is the great divider…

“Unlike most mammals, who live in a sensual world dominated by scents, our is a species that relies on  vision. Eyes help us make emotional connection with other people as well as other species. We prefer animals that can return our gaze, which puts many smaller organisms, some of which may have “too many” eyes or none at all, at a great disadvantage in the struggle for our affection.

“From pollination to seed dispersal, from soil production to waste removeal, and from water filtering to being food for others, invertebrates make Earth a livable planet. As tragic and unforgivable as it would be, the disappearance of mountain gorillas would have far smaller ecological repercussions than the extinction of a single species of savanna termite. We should never have to choose between these two species, of course.”

To learn more about Piotr’s work, check out this story in the Harvard University Gazette.

Lots of meaty stories leading up to Thursday’s World Environment Day sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme:

ENS news service - Heads of state and 87 ministers from around the world have reinforced their commitment to “substantially reduce” the global loss of biodiversity within two years. The European Commission is committed to stopping the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010. Gathered at the ministerial segment of the World Biodiversity Summit in Bonn convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD, participants heard expressions of alarm at the unprecedented loss of species to human encroachment and also heard pledges to reverse this decline. Plant and animal species are becoming extinct at a rate 100 times the natural rate of extinction due to human activities that include pollution, habitat loss, increased consumption and climate change.

The Independent – Mass extinctions of plants and animals could have a severe impact on the living standards of the poorest people on the planet and cost up to £40bn a year, the first major report into the economic impact of biodiversity loss has found. Scientists say biodiversity is facing its greatest threat in millions of years, with three species dying out every hour. Now, the economic cost of such destruction has been assessed.

redOrbit - About 40 percent of the global economy is based on biological products and processes, according to the United Nations Environment Program. People in poorer regions, especially those in areas of low agricultural productivity, rely on genetic diversity of the environment. “However, human activities the world over are causing the progressive loss of species of plants and animals at a rate far higher than the natural background rate of extinction,” said the UNEP.

Have been holding onto this article from Planet 2025 News Network for awhile. Seems like a good day to share it. IUCN, by the way, is a key supporter of Amphibian Ark.

The business case for conserving nature is strong and getting stronger, according to a new report published today by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Shell International Limited.

The report calls for policy reforms to increase the commercial rewards for conserving biodiversity, increased penalties for biodiversity loss and better information on the biodiversity performance of business. A key challenge facing all biodiversity businesses is the lack of accepted indicators to measure positive and negative contributions to biodiversity conservation.As the world wakes up to the accelerating loss of biological diversity, businesses are increasingly viewing biodiversity conservation as a potential profit centre, says the report, Building Biodiversity Business.”There are numerous pro-biodiversity business opportunities that can generate significant profits as well as benefits for nature,” says Dr Joshua Bishop, IUCN’s Senior Advisor on Economics and the Environment. “But a few inspiring examples aren’t enough. This report shows how to achieve a major increase in business investment in biodiversity conservation, by linking policy reforms, technical assistance and innovative financing tools.”Ecotourism is one example of how money can be made from looking after species and their habitats. Environmentally-friendly tourism is expanding at a rate of 20-30 percent annually, compared with 9 percent for tourism as a whole.

Many other businesses, historically responsible for the loss of biodiversity, are starting to lead the way by protecting biodiversity. Markets for organic agriculture and sustainably-harvested timber are growing at double-digit rates. Another major area of growth is the demand for climate mitigation services, such as the protection of forests and wetlands to absorb carbon dioxide.

Bio-prospecting, the search for new compounds, genes and organisms in the wild, is also a biodiversity business on the rise. Some suggest the sector could be worth as much as US$500 million by 2050.

“For businesses to conserve biodiversity it must ultimately become more profitable to protect nature and use natural resources sustainably, rather than ignore or destroy it,” says Sachin Kapila, Group Biodiversity Adviser at Shell International Limited.

Source: iNSnet

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