Biodiversity Research Strategies for a Sustainable Future
Back-to-back with the International Sustainability Science Conference in Leipzig, earlier this month, the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) with representatives from science and policy coming from 25 European countries met to discuss future research requirements toward slowing the decline in biodiversity loss by 2010. Toward this end, Europe needs more interdisciplinary research, hand in hand with greater implementation of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). According to experts, an effective worldwide system of protected areas is still not in sight while dramatic changes are expected in the coming years as a result of climate change. Obviously, huge efforts toward Biodiversity Research and Conservation are urgently needed.
As part of various local and EU biodiversity entities including: the Conservation Biology Research Group of the University of Malta; the EPBRS steering committee; and as partner of the EU project, BioStrat, my research group actively participates in this process. As the co-ordinator of the Malta National Platform for Biodiversity, it is challenging to continue assessing local and EU gaps and improvements required in Biodiversity Conservation Research Strategies for the future and to provide recommendations at EU level in this regard.
The Malta National Biodiversity Platform was set up to promote efforts toward improving local education, scientific research, policy-making and management for biodiversity monitoring and effective protection. Long-term scientific research efforts, such as those by the Conservation Biology Research Group at the University of Malta, are fundamental for sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. This research group has developed various research techniques, including molecular genetics for conservation assessments, species’ and populations’ identification and status evaluation, these are valuable tools in the hands of our present and future generations. Indeed measuring genetic diversity is at the heart of our understanding of biological diversity. The multi-disciplinary conservation science involves and demands expertise in various biological research methods, while considering the socio-cultural and economic benefits of sustainable use of natural resources. It is therefore expected that national interest in biodiversity conservation also needs to feature highly in policy and decision making and fund allocation, by both public and private sectors.
A current issue in policy development affecting marine biodiversity is the EU Maritime Policy Green Paper consultation, open until next month. Toward this goal we are all called to give in our contribution, toward the achievement of a maritime policy which will also need to consider and protect the biodiversity in our seas.
Among the National Biodiversity Conservation obligations one finds those in line with the International Convention for Biological Diversity. As part of this convention’s awareness targets one finds the International Day for Biological Diversity celebrated on the 22nd of May. This year, the theme “Biodiversity and Climate Change” could not be more appropriate, in the wake of the recently released Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The assessment makes it clear that climate change is real, that it is driven by human activity, and that, without action, its consequences on natural systems and on society will be severe.
Tackling climate and global change effects on biodiversity and the services it provides to human societies is essential. Protecting biodiversity and maintaining the resilience of ecosystems will at the same time help mitigate climate change, reduce its impacts and help us adapt.
The International Day for Biological Diversity is a chance to show that we, as individuals and members of a larger community, care about the future well-being of our planet and in ensuring a better life for us all. It is a day for educating, meditating, but more importantly effectively investing in and focusing our efforts on a vital matter: Biodiversity.
For the EPBRS Recommendations of the Leipzig meeting:
For more information on the Biodiversity Day celebrations please visit:
Dr. Adriana Vella, Ph.D (Cambridge, UK), Cons.Biol. (USA)
Senior Lecturer and Researcher
University of Malta