The largest ever gathering in Indonesia of tropical biology and conservation experts will discuss the threat to the world’s plants and animal species.
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Embargoed until 19 July
Sanur, Bali, Indonesia (19 July 2010) – The 2010 International Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) opens today in Bali, Indonesia, amid growing concerns that the world is facing a biodiversity crisis on an unprecedented scale. Habitat destruction from agricultural expansion and climate change is likely to lead to the mass extinction of irreplaceable plant and animal species. This is reflected in theme of this year’s meeting: Tropical biodiversity: surviving the food, energy and climate crisis.
‘Crisis is a much overused term,’ said Dr Terry Sunderland of the Bogor based Center for International Forestry Research and a member of the conference organizing committee. ‘But in terms of global biodiversity at this point, I think it entirely justified. For South East Asia, with its extraordinary wealth of plant and animal life, this crisis is acute.’
Biodiversity, a contraction of the words ‘biological diversity’, is the term used by scientists to describe the entirety of plant and animal life on earth. There are estimated to be 1.75 million species known to science and possibly another 30 million still to be described. Scientists have sometimes described Indonesia, where this year’s conference is being held, as a ‘biodiversity treasure trove’. It has a large number of unique endemic species, but deforestation and damage to coral reefs are endangering the country’s natural heritage.
‘Biodiversity loss is a time bomb that has the potential to severely damage the global systems that sustain life on earth,’ said Sunderland. ‘We are all an integral part of nature; our fates tightly linked with biodiversity. Yet this rich resource is being lost at a greatly accelerated rate because of human activities. This impoverishes us all and weakens the ability of the living systems, on which we depend, to resist growing threats such as climate change.’
Biodiversity includes not just plant and animal species but also the variety of genes and ecosystems on the planet. It is diminishing faster than at any time since the demise of the dinosaurs. The implications are profound; for humanity and for efforts to tackle poverty and climate change. Biodiversity includes the crops people eat and the insects that pollinate them; the plants used for both traditional medicines and modern drugs; the bacteria that help create the soil that sustains farming; and the microscopic plankton at the base of food chains that end with fish on the dinner table. It includes ecosystems such as forests that regulate water supplies and climate. And it includes the variety within and between genes, species and ecosystems that creates a range of livelihoods for people. These are nature’s safety nets. They help societies face uncertainties such as climate variability.
‘It is entirely fitting that Indonesia, a country so rich in natural species, should be hosting this major event during 2010, the International year of Biodiversity,’ said Adi Basukriadi of Universitas Indonesia and chair of the organizing committee. ‘We have an urgent task to mainstream biodiversity and make the issue a critical part of the regional development agenda."
The meeting will run until Friday, 23 July.
Notes for editors:
2010 International Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Sanur, Bali
Organising partners include: Universitas Indonesia, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Institut Pertanian Bogor, James Cook University, the Center for International Forestry Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Indonesian Biological Society and the ATBC Asia Pacific Chapter. The Indonesian Ministries of Forestry, Culture and Tourism and Marine Affairs and Fisheries all provided support
About the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
CIFOR advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing counties. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. For more information, please visit:
International Year of Biodiversity
The United Nations declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity
Center for International Forestry Research
CIFOR advances human wellbeing, environmental conservation and equity by conducting research to inform policies and practices that affect forests in developing counties. CIFOR helps ensure that decision-making that affects forests is based on solid science and principles of good governance, and reflects the perspectives of developing countries and forest-dependent people. CIFOR is one of 15 centres within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. For more information, please visit: www.cifor.org