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ODU's Carpenter an Author of Biodiversity Warning in Science Magazine

ODU researcher Kent Carpenter

Kent Carpenter, an Old Dominion University marine biologist and director of the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA), is an author of an article published April 29 in the journal Science that gives the world's nations a failing grade on biodiversity conservation.

Carpenter was among several dozen researchers who conducted the first comprehensive test of whether the world Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2002 has lived up to its promise. World leaders committed themselves through the CBD to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, which is the International Year of Biodiversity.

But when the researchers looked at 30 indicators measuring such aspects of biodiversity as species population trends, risk of extinction and extent of habitat they found no evidence for a significant reduction in the rate of decline of biodiversity.

Furthermore, the article in Science reports that the pressures on biodiversity - resource consumption, invasive alien species, nitrogen pollution, over-exploitation and climate change impacts - continue to increase.

"Our analysis of all the available data shows that governments have failed to deliver on the commitments they made in 2002. Biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever, and we have made little headway in reducing the pressures on species, habitats and ecosystems," said Stuart Butchart, the paper's lead author. He is associated with BirdLife International and the United Nations' Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

"Our data show that 2010 will not be the year that biodiversity loss was halted, but it needs to be the year in which we start taking the issue seriously and substantially increase our efforts to take care of what is left of our planet."

The indicators included in the study were developed and synthesised through the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership - a collaboration of over 40 international organisations and agencies developing global biodiversity indicators and the leading source of information on trends in global biodiversity.

Carpenter's GMSA, which is headquartered at ODU, was one of the participating organizations. "The implications reported in our article are global, both in terms of biodiversity and world leadership," he said.

The GMSA, which is supported by two large organizations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International (CI), provides key marine indicators used by the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. These GMSA indicators also contributed to the conclusion reached by the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership and the authors of the article in Science.

This article was posted on: April 29, 2010

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