Assuming no radical transformation in human behavior, we can expect important changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services by 2050. A considerable number of species extinctions will have taken place. Existing large blocks of tropical forest will be much reduced and fragmented, but temperate forests and some tropical forests will be stable or increasing in area, although the latter will be biotically impoverished. Marine ecosystems will be very different from today's, with few large marine predators, and freshwater biodiversity will be severely reduced almost everywhere. These changes will not, in themselves, threaten the survival of humans as a species.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
In 2008 UNEP-WCMC produced a report with a consortium of Chinese and international partners on research needs for reducing poverty through better ecosystem management in China. This work was for DFID, NERC and ESRC of the UK government, as a contribution to their design of a proposed international research programme on ecosystem services for poverty alleviation (www.nerc.ac.uk/research/programmes/espa/) The China ESPA report identified that China’s great progress in poverty reduction has slowed, as the remaining poor tend to be found in environments of low productivity or high risk of ecosystem degradation, such as mountains, grasslands and deserts. The government of China is investing heavily in poverty reduction and environmental management, with opportunities for improving the synergies between these activities. Research needs include better understanding of ecosystem functioning for multiple services, and development of methods to analyse policies and projects for both poverty reduction and supply of ecosystem services.Resource Type: Reports
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
This synthesis focuses on estimates of biodiversity change as projected for the 21st century by models or extrapolations based on experiments and observed trends. The term “biodiversity” is used in a broad sense as it is defined in the Convention on Biological Diversity to mean the abundance and distributions of and interactions between genotypes, species, communities, ecosystems and biomes. This synthesis pays particular attention to the interactions between biodiversity and ecosystem services and to critical “tipping points” that could lead to large, rapid and potentially irreversible changes. Comparisons between models are used to estimate the range of projections and to identify sources of uncertainty. Experiments and observed trends are used to check the plausibility of these projections. In addition we have identified possible actions at the local, national and international levels that can be taken to conserve biodiversity. We have called on a wide range of scientists to participate in this synthesis, with the objective to provide decision makers with messages that reflect the consensus of the scientific community and that will aid in the development of policy and management strategies that are ambitious, forward looking and proactive.Resource Type: Reports
Our analyses show significant differences between predictions from different models, with predicted changes in range size by 2030 differing in both magnitude and direction (e.g. from 92 loss to 322 gain). We explain differences with reference to two characteristics of the modelling techniques: data input requirements (presence/absence vs. presence-only approaches) and assumptions made by each algorithm when extrapolating beyond the range of data used to build the model. The effects of these factors should be carefully considered when using this modelling approach to predict species ranges. Main conclusions We highlight an important source of uncertainty in assessments of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and emphasize that model predictions should be interpreted in policy-guiding applications along with a full appreciation of uncertainty.Resource Type: Journal Papers
The effects of Pleistocene glaciations on the genetic characteristics of the most austral conifer in the world, Pilgerodendron uviferum, were analysed with specific reference to the hypothesis that the species persisted locally in ice-free areas in temperate South America.
Results indicated that Pilgerodendron populations are highly monomorphic, probably reflecting past population bottlenecks and reduced gene flow. Southernmost populations tend to be the least genetically variable and were therefore probably more affected by glacial activity than northern ones. Populations located outside ice limits seem to have been isolated during the glacial period. The presence of centres of genetic diversity, together with the lack of a significant correlation between genetic and geographical distances and the absence of geographical patterns of allelic frequencies at most analysed alleles, may indicate that Pilgerodendron did not advance southward after the last glaciation from a unique northern refugium, but spread from several surviving populations in ice-free areas in Patagonia instead.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
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
Since about 1600, 486 animal species have been recorded extinct. This represents about 0.04 of all animal species so far described. In the same period, 600 plant species are known to have disappeared, about 0.25 of the total. These figures are much smaller than those of the Permian/Triassic and Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinctions. One might therefore conclude that at present life on earth is at comparatively little risk of extinction. However, there is a growing body of data to show that the converse is true.Resource Type: Journal Papers
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