More than 70 environment ministers from around the globe this week attended the UN conference on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India where the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) updated its authoritative “Red List” monitoring plant and animal species in danger of extinction.
In excess of 400 new species were added to the IUCN’s Red List. According to IUCN, a total of 20,219 species could now disappear from the face of the Earth. "There is no one way to measure the loss of biodiversity. It is a complex matter, but the Red List is the best measure we have," said Jane Smart, director of IUCN.
“Critical” danger of extinction for 4088 species
This update of the reference register, the Red List, includes 65,518 species, of which nearly a third (20,219) are threatened with extinction, with 4,088 species classed as being critically endangered. 5,919 species are regarded as ‘endangered’ and 10,212 species classed as “vulnerable”.
More than 400 plants and animals have joined the endangered species list since the last version, presented in June at the Rio +20 summit. Two invertebrates, a cockroach from the Seychelles and a freshwater snail called Little Flat-Top found in Alabama, USA have moved into the extinct category since the IUCN's June 2012 update.
IUCN experts also highlighted the alarming situation concerning Madagascar’s species of palm trees. The island of Madagascar is one of the richest sites in the world in terms of biodiversity. The island has 192 palm species not found anywhere else in the world. More than 80% of Madagascar’s palms are threatened with extinction. This would be an economic as well as an ecological disaster as some of Madagascar’s poorest people depend on the palms to provide food and building materials. The critical situation in Madagascar has come about mainly due to land clearing for agriculture and forestry.
One of the Madagascar palms most at risk is the Tahina Palm
which is classified as "critically endangered," the highest stage of species at risk before extinction. A mere thirty specimens of the giant (18 metre) Tahina Palm still exist.
Another study, published on Monday, focused on the lemurs of Madagascar which are now among the most endangered primates in the world, due to the destruction of their habitat and poaching. "Madagascar is an area of absolute priority" for biodiversity, said Russell Mittermeier, the island specialist and president of Conservation International, reports 20minutes
Massive funding needed
Representatives of more than 180 countries had convened in Hyderabad for a UN conference on biodiversity to try to stem the increasingly rapid erosion of Earth’s species. The discussions began on October 8 at the technical level and, for the last three days of the conference this week, at governmental level with more than 70 environment ministers present. Discussions foundered mainly on financial commitments that are considered necessary to reach 20 targets for year 2020 which had previously been adopted at a similar conference in Nagoya (Japan) in 2010. A number of these targets related to overfishing and the development of protected areas on land and at sea.
Conservation experts have estimated that it would take between $US150 billion and $US440 billion of expenditure each year
to reverse the accelerating decline in biodiversity. Current conservation spending is estimated at around $US10 billion per year. Some delegates in Hyderabad pointed out that donor funding for conservation, particularly from European countries, is already at risk in these austere economic times.
Quoted in The Australian
, UN Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner warned, "The cost of inaction is something that people have only just begun to appreciate. When you run out of water, when you run out of arable land... and your rivers run dry, when your lakes silt up, when your fisheries collapse, then it is often too late to start talking about the value of biodiversity ecosystems."
Further information and details the IUCN Red List can be found on the Red List of Endangered Species