Biodiversity in Danger
By Vicki Mozo
Biodiversity is in peril. One of the major factors causing the augmenting biodiversity loss is related to habitat loss from anthropogenic pressure. Different human activities and practices in agriculture, fishing, housing, and pollution are disrupting the ecosystem negatively. Thus, experts convened to counteract this trend through identifying areas needing conservation efforts while maintaining areas already protected.
A conference organized by UN's Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya last October 2010 identified new targets to attain by 2020. Currently, there are about 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine regions that needed protection. Nevertheless, questions still remain, such as the cogency of the areas needing protection above others. Another concern is if certain places are labeled as protected areas, are they being protected adequately? The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, together with its partners, set up a Digital Observatory for Protected Areas or DOPA to help them delve into the massive information in an attempt to find the answer to such questions.
DOPA is a collection of information in the form of distributed databases and online services to facilitate decision making and research regarding the status and trends of biodiversity in protected areas from around the world. With it, experts would be able to pin point which areas need to be prioritized, conserved, and supported (especially in terms of fund allocations).
The data that can be retrieved from it can be used to answer with scientific and empirical proof big questions such as these: "Are those protected areas truly being protected? Where are the precise locations of areas needing protection? In which area should the funds be primarily allocated?"
With JRC's remote sensing and DOPA's data on specific areas, species distributions, and socio-economic factors, they could easily identify environmental factors, maps, and alerts on a global scale.
Thus, the project will ever be wide in scope, built in intricate links and information exchanges between governments and international organizations, such as Global Biodiversity Information Facility, NASA, the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Birdlife International and the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
As of this time, about 18.5% of the planet is protected: 12% of the land surface, 0.5% of the open oceans, and 6% of territorial seas. The scope is not enough to preserve biodiversity on earth, and therefore there is a greater need to improve it. New areas are being targeted in the 193 countries that have joined so that in year 2020 a minimum of 17% of land and inland water will be placed under protection and more coastal and marine areas can be protected, too.
European Commission Joint Research Centre, "Biodiversity in danger: Which areas should be protected?", February 18, 2011.
Mozo, Vicki. "Biodiversity in Danger." Biology-Online.org. Available from http://www.biology-online.org/articles/biodiversity-danger.html. Internet; accessed (date).
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