Experts call for urgent biodiversity action

German advisors suggest global nature reserve network, intergovernmental biodiversity panel

Up to one-fifth of the world's land mass should be given legal protection as a global network of nature reserves, German government advisors said yesterday. The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) called for urgent action to counter a "dramatic loss" of biological diversity, including formation of an international biosphere policy and an intergovernmental panel on biodiversity modelled on the existing intergovernmental panel on climate change.

The WBGU fears that current rates of human-induced biodiversity loss will cause severe environmental damage. Shrinking wild gene pools put food production at risk and the destruction of ecosystems undermines the general functioning of the "earth system," putting the world's climate also in danger, it says.

The group calls for development of existing nature reserve systems into a global, interconnected network covering 10-20% of the earth's land surface. It estimates that this would cost euros 25.6bn (DM50bn). About a quarter of this has already been spent, so financing the remainder should not be an impossible task, the group says.

WBGU accepts that Germany is already involved in international biosphere protection, but calls for a new interministerial working group on national biodiversity policy to implement commitments on conservation and sustainable use policies defined in the 1992 UN biodiversity convention (ENDS Daily 7 May 1998).

Follow Up:
WBGU, tel: +49 471 4831 723. See also press release, and a summary of the report: "World Transition: {Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biosphere}".

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