Biodiversity under threat

FIJI TIMES ONLINE

BIRDFLIFE International has expressed concern that much of the Pacific region’s biodiversity is threatened with extinction.

Don Stewart, Birdlife International’s Pacific regional director, said the region was home to 44 critically-endangered bird species — which meant that the Pacific had the highest number of bird species on the brink of extinction compared to the rest of the world.

Birdlife International said global biodiversity, including the Pacific Islands’ region was under threat.

The paper’s lead author, Dr Stuart Butchart of the United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre and BirdLife International, said despite the commitment by world leaders made in 2002 to reduce the loss of biodiversity, the opposite has proved true: there is an “alarming” loss.

Dr Butchart’s findings showed that since 1970, the world’s animal populations on land and sea have been reduced by 30 per cent, mangroves and sea grass by 20 per cent and the coverage of living coral by 40 per cent.

Meanwhile, Mr Stewart said birds had thrived on Pacific Islands for thousands of years but were driven towards extinction because of the introduction of invasive species such as rats, cats, dogs, mongoose and snakes, which eat the birds’ eggs and young.

“If we don’t address these two main threats — alien invasive species and habitat loss — with urgency more bird species will become extinct and that will affect biodiversity, because everything is connected.

“We need to work together to make sure that that doesn’t happen, because in the end, we all depend on nature to survive,” said Mr Stewart.

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Filed under animals, biodiversity, conservation, endangered, environment, environmentalism, extinction, nature, wildlife, zoology

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