University of Hawaii System newsletter

Researcher Examines Ongoing Global Biodiversity Loss

Posted on | August 5, 2011 | Comments Off on Researcher Examines Ongoing Global Biodiversity Loss

Camilo Mora headshot

Continuing international reliance on a strategy of setting aside land and marine territories as protected areas is insufficient to stem global biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive assessment published on July 28 in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series. Authors of the paper are Camilo Mora of the Mānoa’s geography department and Peter F. Sale of the United Nations University’s Canadian-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health.

The authors based their study on existing literature and global data on human threats and biodiversity loss. They found that, despite impressively rapid growth of protected land and marine areas worldwide biodiversity is in steep decline.

Expected scenarios of human population growth and consumption levels indicate that cumulative human demands will impose an unsustainable toll on Earth’s ecological resources and services, accelerating the rate at which biodiversity is being lost. Current and future human requirements will also exacerbate the challenge of effectively implementing protected areas while suggesting that effective biodiversity conservation requires new approaches that address underlying causes of biodiversity loss, including the growth of both human population and resource consumption.

“Biodiversity is humanity’s life-support system, delivering everything from food, to clean water and air, to recreation and tourism, to novel chemicals that drive our advanced civilization,” says Mora. “Yet there is an increasingly well-documented global trend in biodiversity loss, triggered by a host of human activities.”

Mora and Sale warn that long-term failure of the protected areas strategy could erode public and political support for biodiversity conservation and that the disproportionate allocation of available resources and human capital into this strategy precludes the development of more effective approaches.

Read the news release.