Wednesday, 17 October 2012

COP 11 biological diversity: After 20 years of CBD and 11 COPs and billions of dollars expenditure, even experts do not know the exact size of biodiversity - how many plant and animal species thrive on the earth

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  How large or big is the biological diversity of the earth?

After 20 years of CBD and 11 COPs and billions of dollars expenditure,
even experts do not know the exact size of biodiversity - how many
plant and animal species thrive on the earth.

There are conflicting reports on the exact number of plant and animals
species in the world. The United Nations Convention on Biological
Diversity, which comprises about 200 nations, too is not sure of the
scientific extent of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is the existence of varied forms of life – plant and
animal. Knowing the exact extent of biodiversity will help in its
proper conservation. The CBD has now embarked upon the mega mission of
documenting the global flora and it will take another eight years to
compile it. Even then, the task remains incomplete as the
documentation of the fauna is yet to be taken up.

MF Farooqui, special secretary in the Union Ministry of Environment
and Forests, admitted at a press conference here on Monday that the
extent of biodiversity is scientifically not known. He said the exact
number of animals and plant species is not known.

Newer species are discovered while many existing species are pushed to
the verge of extinction. Every year hundreds of new species,
particularly of arthropods, are discovered. This makes the task of
species documentation quite challenging. In a recent exercise as many
as six lakh plant species have been deleted from the dictionary of
life, as they are ‘duplicates of the known species. This has brought
down the strength of the plant kingdom from 10 lakh plant species to
just four lakh.

The same may hold good for animal species, but the exact number of
animal species on the earth will be known only after a through
scientific documentation at international level.

Meanwhile, in a survey conducted by CMS Environment in the city, it
was found that only 23 per cent of the respondents could define
biodiversity. About 80 per cent respondents did not know that India is
hosting COP-11 in Hyderabad.

Only 50 per cent respondents could explain the impact of losing
biodiversity or that it could cause environmental change.

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