Four assessment reports written by 550 leading experts from over 100 countries as a result of three years worth of work were released in late March focusing on four regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The four regions covered were America, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and Africa. These reports were approved by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). What these assessments overwhelmingly pointed to was that biodiversity – the essential variety of life forms on Earth – continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being. This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere.
“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people sound, to many people, academic and far removed from our daily lives. Nothing could be further from the truth – they are the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life. The best available evidence, gathered by the world’s leading experts, points us now to a single conclusion: we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead. Fortunately, the evidence also shows that we know how to protect and partially restore our vital natural assets.” Chair of IPBES Sir Robert Watson
The report focuses on providing answers to key questions for each of the four regions: why is biodiversity important, where are we making progress, what are the main threats and opportunities for biodiversity and how can we adjust our policies and institutions for a more sustainable future?
In African in particular, the report says that approximately 500,000 square kilometers of African land is already estimated to have been degraded by overexploitation of natural resources, erosion, salinization and pollution resulting in significant loss of nature’s contributions to people.
“Africa’s immense natural resources and its diverse cultural heritage are among its most important strategic assets for both human development and well-being. Africa is the last place on Earth with a wide range of large mammals, yet today there are more African plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and large mammals threatened than ever before by a range of both human-induced and natural causes.” Dr. Emma Archer (South Africa), co-chair of the African assessment with Dr. Kalemani Jo Mulongoy (DRC) and Dr. Luthando Dziba (South Africa)
“Africa is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and this is going to have severe consequences for economically marginalized populations. By 2100, climate change could also result in the loss of more than half of African bird and mammal species, a 20-30% decline in the productivity of Africa’s lakes and significant loss of African plant species.” Dr. Emma Archer (South Africa)
Mara Elephant Project’s mission is to protect elephants, as a landscape species, in order to conserve the greater Mara ecosystem and we hope to reverse, in our area of operation, the loss of this mammal species.