Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 UEBT Biodiversity Barometer shows additional efforts needed to reach UN targets on biodiversity awareness

Montreal, 25 June 2015 – An average of 69% of respondents in nine countries say they have heard of biodiversity, but additional outreach efforts are needed for the world to reach global targets on biodiversity awareness set under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

According to IPSOS research conducted for the Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) in 2015 among 9,000 persons in Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, France, India, Mexico, Netherlands, UK and USA, biodiversity awareness is rising in general, with millennials showing a particularly high degree of awareness. However, the rate is not rising sufficiently quickly to make a difference to biodiversity conservation efforts.

“To reach the 2020 targets on biodiversity awareness, bolder awareness raising efforts are needed not only by governments, but also by businesses and others,” says Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD, in response to the survey results. “As we come to the second half of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, let us all work together to reach out and increase understanding on biodiversity.”

Other important findings of the 2015 Biodiversity Barometer include:
• Between 2009 and 2015, biodiversity awareness grew from 56% to 64% in Germany, France, UK and USA. In Brazil, biodiversity awareness has fallen slightly since 2010.
• 87% of respondents believe it is important to personally contribute to biodiversity conservation. Interest is especially high (over 95%) in Latin America and India, and is growing in other countries.
• Young consumers that learn about biodiversity at school show the most awareness. The majority of youth (88%) personally want to contribute to biodiversity conservation, with one out of two believing it essential.
• Biodiversity is the term given to the variety of life on earth and the natural patterns it forms, but it is often confused with other concepts like organic agriculture, environmental protection, diversity of human races, climate change or environmentally-friendly products and technologies.
• Television, radio programs, newspapers, magazines and schools are quoted as being the main sources of biodiversity awareness.
• 83% of respondents expect companies to respect biodiversity, and want to be better informed on how biodiversity is conserved in their supply chains. Only 42% are confident that companies pay serious attention to biodiversity in their supply chains.
• In 2015, 36% of the top 100 beauty companies and 60% of food companies mention biodiversity in their reports or on their websites.

“To respond to consumer expectations, companies need to step up and improve their biodiversity reporting. In addition, more direct consumer communication on biodiversity is required to increase the trust of consumers,” says Rik Kutsch Lojenga, UEBT Executive Director.

A summary of the 2015 UEBT Biodiversity Barometer can be downloaded from the UEBT website:

Friday, June 19, 2015


We are currently witnessing the start of a mass extinction event the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for at least 65 million years. This is the alarming finding of a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Macoun Marsh- A Unique Urban Wetland in Ottawa

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“No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soils”

Close to 1 billion people, or roughly 1 in 8 people, presently lack sufficient nutritious food, with the most vulnerable of them living on degraded land. And while the earth’s fertile land is limited, the vast majority of our food calories still come from the land. When you then factor in that the fresh water needed to produce our food is filtered by the land, there is no question that the quantity and quality of the land directly affects our lives and thus our well-being. As we celebrate this year’s World Day to Combat
Desertification, the message could not be clearer; in order to attain food security for all through sustainable food systems we must invest in our land. We cannot underestimate the importance of healthy soils. The soil under our feet plays a critical role for food security, as it does for climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Soils represent at least a quarter of global biodiversity. It is the basis for the food people eat, the feed for their livestock, the fuel they use to cook with and the production of fibres for clothes and other uses. It plays a key role in the supply of clean water. It is the basis for soil resilience to the effects of floods and drought. Plant and animal life depend on primary nutrient recycling through soil biological processes. It is not an exaggeration to say that without soils we could not sustain much of life on earth’s continents, and where soil is lost it cannot easily be renewed on a human timeline. Approximately one third of the world’s soil is already moderately- to highly- degraded due to erosion, nutrient depletion, acidification, urbanization and chemical pollution. If we allow the current rate of soil degradation to continue, future generations will struggle to meet their needs.

Escalating population growth and increasing demand for food will put an even greater strain on land resources. Estimates suggest that we may need to clear 6 million hectares of new land every year, until 2050, to meet the growing demands for food, water, energy and fuel. Yet this pathway will lead to considerable biodiversity loss and increased greenhouse gas emissions. These pressures are compounded by the reality that we are presently degrading the land faster than it is recovering. In fact, we degrade 12 million hectares of land each year, and lose the opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain annually.

This not only impacts us negatively but undermines our goal of eradicating hunger and poverty for all. Therefore, how we manage the land, including achieving sustainable agriculture, becomes even more critical for food security and poverty eradication, especially in developing countries.

But there are solutions. The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011 – 2020 and, in particular, Aichi Biodiversity Target 5 which aims to at least halve and bring as close to zero as possible the rate of loss of natural habitats, and Aichi Target 15 which aims to restore at least 15% of degraded ecosystems, seek to reverse the negative trend of land degradation. In addition, as part of the post-2015 development agenda, the proposed sustainable development goal on land aims to chart a more proactive path for our future by targeting three simultaneous actions: avoid degrading additional land, recover as much as we can of that which is already degraded, and, for every hectare of land we degrade, to rehabilitate a hectare of degraded land in the same ecosystem and the same timeframe. This is an important effort.

Reversing the degradation of soils delivers a range of benefits including improved nutrient and water management, soil organic carbon content, natural pest and disease regulation and reduced soil erosion. Additionally, increasing the efficiency of the use of inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides), simultaneously increases food productivity, reduces off-farm impacts and increases resilience to climate change.

Achieving food security will also require that we achieve other relevant Aichi Biodiversity Targets. By 2020 we should seek to realise that: incentives and subsidies are reformed; plans are implemented for sustainable production and consumption; fisheries are harvested sustainably; areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably; pollution, including excess nutrients, is reduced below detrimental levels; genetic diversity of cultivated and farmed species, and their wild relatives, is maintained; ecosystems providing essential services are conserved and restored; ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks are enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, and that traditional knowledge, innovations and practices are respected and integrated.

During this International Year of Soils, continuing with a ‘business as usual’ approach in our present patterns of behaviour, consumption, production and economic incentives will not allow us to realize the vision of a world with ecosystems capable of meeting human needs into the future. As we mark the 2015 World Day to Combat Desertification let us strive to restore degraded soils, and adopt sustainable strategies that sustain ecosystem services by integrating the management of land, water and biodiversity.

By doing this we can attain food security, help adapt to climate change and achieve the goals and targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Monday, June 15, 2015


The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, north western Pakistan, has given over PKR 57 million for construction of boundary walls of government schools for boys in lower Dir district. A total of 149 government primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools would be provided with PKR 3.85 million each. The school heads have been asked to utilize the funds on development activities.
June 07


The sale and display of Maggi noodles has been temporally banned in Thimpu, for safety reasons as it has been found unsafe and hazardous for human consumption. Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) officials have sealed around 1,000 cartoons of Maggi noodles and 178 cartoons of Maggie cup noodles.
June 08


Bhutan holds the Guinness Book of World Records for planting the most number of trees in an hour. Around 49,672 trees have been planted at Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu, western central Bhutan although 50,000 was the number attempted.
June 03