The countries affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami contain the most diverse and extensive coral reefs and mangroves of the Indian Ocean, and some of the richest in the world. Not only are these ecosystems among the most threatened in the world, they also provide numerous essential ecosystem services.
It is thus not surprising that reefs and mangroves received widespread attention after the tsunami, with three principal questions posed: Are the tsunami's impacts on reefs and mangroves a further threat to their future survival? Did reefs and mangroves play a role in shoreline protection and reduce structural damage and human mortality? How could reconstruction efforts include actions to maintain these ecosystems and reduce further threats to them?Resource Type: Journal Papers
Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse of shallow water marine ecosystems but are being degraded worldwide by human activities and climate warming. Analyses of the geographic ranges of 3235 species of reef fish, corals, snails, and lobsters revealed that between 7.2 and 53.6 of each taxon have highly restricted ranges, rendering them vulnerable to extinction. Restricted-range species are clustered into centers of endemism, like those described for terrestrial taxa. The 10 richest centers of endemism cover 15.8 of the world's coral reefs (0.012 of the oceans) but include between 44.8 and 54.2 of the restricted-range species. Many occur in regions where reefs are being severely affected by people, potentially leading to numerous extinctions. Threatened centers of endemism are major biodiversity hotspots, and conservation efforts targeted toward them could help avert the loss of tropical reef biodiversity.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Biologists view Protected Areas (PAs) as natural areas established and managed primarily for the conservation of nature. However, many early Pas were established for aesthetic or socio-economic reasons and received little scientific input to their design. More recently, scientists have identified gaps in PA networks and various contemporary PAs have been established to provide for habitats and species in need of protection.
Scientists have also modelled minimum areas and population sizes that should be protected to prevent extinctions arising from demographic or chance causes. However, these theoretical ideals are difficult to put into practice, particularly as PAs increasingly face more immediate external threats. If scientists are to influence future PA design, and if PAs are to succeed in the long term, these concepts must be applied in practice. Therefore, sufficient protection must be integrated with human needs and aspirations in the design of future protected areas.
The threat posed to coral reefs by biological invasion is unlikely to diminish and should therefore be considered in analyses of the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Global and regional coral reef area statistics are of considerable value in fields ranging from global environmental change to fisheries to conservation. Although widely quoted, Smith's 1978 figure of 600 000rkm2 is only an approximate calculation. The World Conservation Monitoring Centre has prepared a new estimate of reef coverage by mapping emergent reef crest and very shallow reef systems. These data were rasterised, using 1rkm grid squares, as a means of reducing errors arising from variation in scale. Global and regional reef coverages were calculated from the resultant grid. The total global area is estimated at 255 000rkm2, considerably lower than many previous estimates. Variation in reef area estimates is, in part, a function of variation in reef definition.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Advice on assessment of biodiversity impacts is required to support trade negotiations and reduce risks of unforeseen consequences for important biodiversity and those who depend on it for their livelihoods. This paper explores linkages between biodiversity and trade and draws on examples from the agriculture sector to reinforce the need to build a biodiversity-inclusive process for as-sessing impacts of trade policies and agreements.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Sustainability requires living within the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. In an attempt to measure the extent to which humanity satisfies this requirement, we use existing data to translate human demand on the environment into the area required for the production of food and other goods, together with the absorption of wastes. Our accounts indicate that human demand may well have exceeded the biosphere's regenerative capacity since the 1980s. According to this preliminary and exploratory assessment, humanity's load corresponded to 70% of the capacity of the global biosphere in 1961, and grew to 120% in 1999.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Although Asian bamboo species constitute a non-timber forest product of major cultural and economic importance, no detailed regional assessment of their distribution patterns has previously been made. To assess the potential of the existing bamboo species distribution data for production of regional mapping tools for planning the conservation of forest-based biodiversity, data on bamboo distribution and forest cover were combined. Over 1000 bamboo species from 60 genera of woody bamboos were incorporated, allowing the mapping of individual species or groups of species and genera, along with potential species richness and biodiversity hotspots. Over 6.3 million km2 of Asian forest potentially contains bamboo, with highest densities indicated from northeastern India through Burma to southern China, and through Sumatra to Borneo. The highest figures for potential species richness (144 spp per square km) were recorded in forests of south China, including Hainan Island. Despite substantial inadequacies and inconsistencies in knowledge of the taxonomy and distribution of bamboo species, this approach may provide a valuable tool for planning in situ conservation of forest biodiversity.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Feeding a rapidly expanding human population will require a large increase in the supply of agricultural products during the coming decades. This may lead to the transformation of many landscapes from natural vegetation cover to agricultural land use, unless increases in crop yields reduce the need for new farmland. Here, we assess the evidence that past increases in agricultural yield have spared land for wild nature. We investigated the relationship between the change in the combined energy yield of the 23 most energetically important food crops over the period 1979–1999 and the change in per capita cropland area for 124 countries over the same period.
Our results show that land-sparing is a weak process that occurs under a limited set of circumstances, but that it can have positive outcomes for the conservation of wild nature.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Here we report on a new global system for coastal and shelf areas: the Marine Ecoregions of the World, or MEOW, a nested system of 12 realms, 62 provinces, and 232 ecoregions. This system provides considerably better spatial resolution than earlier global systems, yet it pre serves many common elements and can be cross - referenced to many regional biogeographic classifications. The designation of terrestrial ecoregions has revolutionized priority setting and planning for terrestrial conservation; we anticipate similar benefits from the use of a coherent and credible marine system.Resource Type: Journal Papers
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