Why the inaction on biodiversity?

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We are launching an initiative to assess whether or not decision-makers are serious about wanting to halt the biodiversity crisis (S. H. M. Butchart et al. Science 328, 11641168; 2010).

It is not clear why efforts to stem the loss of biodiversity have so far been disappointing. Is it because of ineffective communication from scientists? Or is it because governments are unwilling to listen to troublesome scientific recommendations?

To find out, we are collating a list of conservation actions needed in the G20 countries. The actions must be justified by unequivocal peer-reviewed research findings; supported by the community of conservation scientists; help to preserve or restore an endangered species or ecosystem; be politically costly to implement because they are opposed by some interest groups; and be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (see http://go.nature.com/DTkV9T).

With support from UK newspaper The Guardian, we shall approach all G20 governments at the October meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, asking them to implement these tasks and to avoid the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity being a celebration of failure.

If you have published peer-reviewed research that has met opposition in influencing biodiversity policy, please contact us.

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  1. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

    • Guillaume Chapron
  2. University of Bern, Switzerland

    • Raphaël Arlettaz
  3. Università di Roma La Sapienza, Italy

    • Luigi Boitani

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  1. Report this comment #14539

    Gilles Merlin said:

    Not a long time ago in this journal, there was an apparently scientific discussion about the minimal number of animal species that would allow survival of the others on this planet; so why should biology incompetent and ideology addicted politicians bother about biodiversity when some scientists seem to think that a number of species (to be defined, but by whom it was not clear) might be disposed of witthout harm ?

  2. Report this comment #14598

    Ben Phalan said:


    1. Because many would agree that we have an ethical obligation not to needlessly wipe out large numbers of other species.

    2. Because we don't know what that "safe" number might be or even how to define it.

    Arguments such as the "rivet hypothesis" are perhaps an unhelpful distraction, because they suggest the question is whether the occasional individual species is useful or not, when in fact we are in the process of napalming the plane and hacking off chunks of it with chainsaws.

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