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2010 - International Year of Biodiversity

3 February 2010

Humans are part of nature's rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it.

Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on.

Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate.  These losses are irreversible and damage the life support systems we depend on.  But we can prevent them.
 
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The UN has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity, calling on world leaders and all in a position to help to take action to safeguard life on earth. Throughout the year there will be a focus on the 2010 Biodiversity Target.  Adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2002 this Target set out to significantly reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010.
 
Sadly there is little evidence that the rate of loss of biodiversity has been reduced since 2002. In fact, rates of biodiversity loss are increasing. Perhaps it is time to re-think our approaches to biodiversity conservation?  A greater sense of urgency is certainly needed and ways must be found to involve more people in tackling the issues.
 
For the botanic garden community, 2010 will also be the year that we celebrate the significant achievements of the GSPC, outcomes of which directly support the overall 2010 Target.
 
Most people know what they can personally do to cut carbon emissions and help (in a small way) to address climate change - not so for stemming the loss of biodiversity. The connections between these two big issues, climate change and biodiversity loss need to be made more explicitly, with of course, plants at the core of the debate.  This is something that botanic gardens are uniquely well-placed to do.
 
BGCI is a partner to the International Year of Biodiversity.  Many of our planned 2010 activities will celebrate the importance of biodiversity and showcase the achievements of botanic gardens in protecting it:
 
  • The 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress 'Addressing global change: a new agenda for botanic gardens' is being held in Dublin, Ireland, 13 - 18th June 2010. This will be an extremely important Congress for botanic gardens coming in a milestone year for international biodiversity conservation. During the Congress, botanic gardens will be able to evaluate not only the important progress made towards the achievement of the United Nation’s 2010 biodiversity conservation target and the GSPC but also review the priorities we must all set to guide our individual and collective actions for the good of the planet over the coming decade.
  • Our climate change teaching resources celebrate the importance of all biodiversity.
  • The latest issue of Roots, our education review, explores definitions of biodiversity and how we can reach beyond our institutions.
  • The two issues of  BGJournal that we will publish during 2010 will have a strong focus on the conservation role of botanic gardens. Our January issue examines the value of the plant collections held by botanic gardens, while the July issue will provide a review of the role of botanic gardens in implementing the GSPC.
  • Finally, to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity, Sara Oldfield's latest book 'Botanic gardens: Modern day arks' will be published in the Summer,  watch this space for more details!
 

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