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Biodiversity crisis affects billions who depend on wild species, researchers say

Biodiversity crisis affects billions who depend on wild species, researchers say
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Billions of people worldwide depend on around 50,000 wild species for food, according to a comprehensive new scientific report that concludes that humans must make dramatic changes to hunting and other practices to address an accelerating biodiversity crisis. Get Energy, Medicine and Income.

The report, prepared for the United Nations over four years by 85 experts from 33 countries, is the most comprehensive look yet at ways to use wild species sustainably, or in ways that do not result in the long-term decline of these resources, or ensure their availability for future generations. It draws on thousands of scholarly studies and other references, including a collection of indigenous and local knowledge. Indigenous and poor communities are among those most directly affected by the overexploitation of wild species, the report says.

“Half of humanity benefits from and uses wild species, often without even knowing they do so,” said Marla R. Emery, one of the co-chairs of the assessment conducted by the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. AND summary was approved on Thursday in Bonn, Germany, by representatives from 139 countries including the United States, with the full report due to be released in a few months.

But the focus of this latest assessment was to provide a more optimistic outlook on how wild species can be used sustainably by people around the world, said Jean-Marc Fromentin, also a co-chair.

A third of wild species that humans use in some way that are also on the “Red List” — classified as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — have recorded stable or increasing population trends despite human use, a study cited in the report. This suggests that “the use of these specific species is not yet directly contributing to their extinction, as far as we can tell,” said Sophie Marsh, a Masters student in Biodiversity at University College London and lead author of the Study on endangered specieswhich was released in 2021.

Indigenous and local knowledge is critical to learning some best practices for sustainable use, the report says, but traditionally it has been underutilized. Indigenous communities have long incorporated the sustainable use of wild species into their cultural practices, and an estimated 15 percent of global forests are managed by indigenous peoples and local communities as “community resources,” the report said.

The report referred to practices used in the hills of the Cordillera region of Luzon, the Philippines’ largest island. There, “the entire community is mobilizing to protect the forest,” he said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an indigenous rights activist who grew up in the region. The practice is called Batangan, a resource management system that involves a shared sense of responsibility for monitoring forest diversity and planting new trees as the older trees age.

It’s not just about the trees, “it’s about the water, the plants and the animals, the microorganisms,” and increasingly climate change, as forests play a critical role in sequestering carbon, Ms. Tauli- Corpuz.

The sustainable use of wild species is central to the identity and existence of many indigenous and local communities, the report says.

“When wildlife disappears, our culture, lifestyle and livelihood is at risk,” said Viviana Figueroa, an indigenous Argentine advocate and activist who works as part of her commitment to the International Indigenous Biodiversity Forum. “There is still a lot to do, but at least there is some recognition,” said Dr. said Figueroa.

Future policies on wild species use need to consider the social and historical dimensions of sustainability and whether the benefits from that use are shared equitably. For example, vicuña fiber, found in luxury clothing, is expensive and produced by mostly low-income indigenous communities in South America, who help protect the vicuña by allowing the animals to graze on their communal or private land.

Still, it is “nearly impossible” for a remote Andean community to deal with an international textile company or place their product on the international market, the report said, meaning most of the profits from the vicuna fiber trade come from merchants be taken and textile companies.

The fishing industry must reduce unregulated and illegal fishing, support more small-scale fisheries and quash harmful subsidies that encourage overfishing, the report recommended. The timber industry also needs to invest in technology that reduces waste in the manufacture of timber products, according to the report’s conclusions, and governments may need to tighten bans or regulations on game meat in some regions, while also considering whether these policies could affect the food insecurity in these areas.

The findings of the new report could soon have a direct impact on international politics. The report was prepared in part on behalf of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an agreement designed to ensure that global trade in plants and animals does not endanger their survival in the wild. That contracting parties will use the results of the assessment to inform their decisions on trade at their conference in Panama in November.

Depletion of wildlife is not the only factor driving the decline; Man-made climate change is also a major force, the report said. Growing populations and consumption, as well as technological advances that make many extraction practices more efficient, will also put greater pressure on wildlife.

“We need to ensure that these policy tools benefit everyone,” said Emma Archer, a professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa and one of the lead authors of the assessment. “There doesn’t have to be winners and losers.”

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