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DNA barcodes: tackle disease, protect biodiversity

By Eva Aguilar

A mosquito of the culex genus, which transmits West Nile virus

DNA 'barcodes' can identify species quickly and cheaply, helping to catalogue biodiversity and monitor disease vectors, say scientists. More...

SC-DIVERSITAS Chair, Michel Loreau, renews call for an IMoSEB

By Michel Loreau

With global diversity increasingly at risk, a mechanism like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is required, argues Michel Loreau. More...

Poverty and corruption fuel tropical forest fires

By Katherine Nightingale

Satellite data showing fires across the African continent

Poverty and political instability undermine the effectiveness of reserves set up to protect tropical forests, satellite data reveal. More...

Scientists find why some plants are good neighbours

By Xu Jing

A discovery about how some plants can increase the yields of others could lead to farmers using less chemical fertilizer. More...

Tropical Forests and Climate Policy

By Global Carbon Project

A tropical forests and climate policy study in the journal Science highlights the importance of slowing deforestation in tropical countries in the global effort to avert dangerous climate change. More...

Belgium DIVERSITAS National Committee celebrating International Biodiversity Day


The Belgian Biodiversity Platform is pleased to announce the theme of its 2007 conference held in Brussels on May 21-22: "Biodiversity and Climate Change" following the 2007 theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD-22 May). The first day is an open science conference that will offer an overview of the scientific knowledge on present and predicted impacts of climate change on biodiversity, with a focus on research being conducted in Belgium. Results of the open science conference will be presented in a public event on the second day and followed by a debate on Biodiversity versus Climate Change with a representative of the Directorate General for Research-European Commission and the ambassador of Al Gore in Belgium. More...

Launch of BiodivERsA Database on European funding programmes


The ERA_NET BiodivERsA is pleased to announce the launch of a new Research
Information System on European Funding programs and funding organisations for
biodiversity research. More...

Malaysia's new model of conservation

By Nature

An acacia tree

Photo credit: James H. Miller


A Malaysian conservation project could help preserve biodiversity alongside the South-East Asian timber industry, says an editorial in Nature. More...

Seeds of change: rebuilding a Brazilian rainforest

By Bernice Wuethrich (Science)

Deforestation has altered the water cycle in Brazil

Bernice Wuethrich reports on an ambitious plan to restore the ecosystem of Brazil's Atlantic rainforest, devastated by deforestation. More...

Racing to save the Amazon

By Thomas Hayden, Nature

Brazil's Amazon region as seen from space

Conservation is seeing a surge in 'quick and dirty' biodiversity surveys
with an emphasis on local participation. Thomas Hayden reports from the
Amazon. More...

Warmer seas threaten tourism in poor countries

By Kennedy Abwao


Climate change is threatening the existence of migratory species such as rare green turtles, heightening concern that tourism in poor countries may decline. More...

Struggling to predict how species shift with climate

By Science


Miguel B. Araújo and Carsten Rahbek discuss the challenge of perfecting models that predict how species will shift with climate change. More...

Single fish species controls health of tropical river

By Mun-Keat Looi

Removing just one fish species from a tropical river can have major effects on the ecosystem's health, according to research published in Science. More...

European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy, EDIT

By Simon Tillier

More than 130 taxonomists have met in Paris the 28-29 June 2006 for the kickoff of the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy, EDIT. More...

Nitrogen emissions threaten biodiversity 'hotspots'

By Zablon Odhiambo

Researchers have warned that rising nitrogen emissions from developing nations will soon threaten plant life in some of the most biodiverse parts of the planet. More...

Flying in the face of nature - The Guardian 22 February 2006


Picture: Peter Daszak

Peter Daszak, member of the SC-DIVERSITAS, and Anne Larigauderie, Executive Director of DIVERSITAS, have been interviewed in the context of human impacts on the spread of the avian flu. More...

African 'biopiracy' debate heats up

By Talent Ngandwe

The debate is intensifying over how local communities should share the benefits of research based on Africa's biodiversity while protecting the intellectual property rights of the researchers involved. More...

Entire frog species 'wiped out by climate change'

By Catherine Brahic

Climate change can threaten entire species by altering the way disease spreads, according to research on frogs that is among the first to link global warming, disease and extinction. More...

Biodiversity science evolves

By Science editorial By Rodolfo Dirzo and Michel Loreau - Science vol. 310 - 11 Nov. 2005

The planet's biodiversity is increasingly threatened by human activities. We have heard this before, and the global mantra to stop the damage has forged numerous international panels and agreements over the past 15 years. Yet despite these efforts to ensure biodiversity conservation, we have witnessed extensive population extinctions and massive deforestation and fragmentation of natural habitats, and we may even see the geographic contraction of major ecosystems, such as the tropical rainforest in its northernmost distribution in the Americas.

First DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference Press release: Valuing Biodiversity Services, Including its Insurance against Disease, Focus of 700 Experts Meeting in Mexico

By diluting the pool of virus targets and hosts, biodiversity reduces their impact on humans and provides a form of global health insurance, biodiversity experts say. At the same time, intrusion into the world's areas of high biodiversity disturbs these biological reservoirs and exposes people to new forms of infectious disease, according to Dr. Peter Daszak, one of 700 experts from 60 countries convening in Oaxaca, Mexico for a landmark conference dedicated to the convergence of all biodiversity-related sciences. More…

African countries to form regional network on global environmental change

At a historic meeting held in Nairobi, scientists from throughout Africa called for a regional network to promote much needed research on environmental degradation in the region. The aim of the network, initially called AFRICANESS (African Network of Earth System Science), is to provide a regional platform for the study of global environmental change (GEC), the combination of changes that are occurring throughout the world and which are having an impact at the global scale. Climate change is just one of the consequences of GEC. The meeting was organised by the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) and the International Council of Science (ICSU). More...

UN General Assembly urged to strengthen worldwide capacities in science, technology and innovation

By Source: ICSU
In an unprecedented statement to the UN General Assembly, the leadership of international scientific, engineering, and medical organizations urged the Heads of State and Government meeting in New York in September 2005 to strengthen worldwide capacities in science, technology and innovation. Stronger capacities in science and technology are required to allow humanity to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, the statement concludes. In September 2000, 147 heads of State and Government, and 189 nations in total, committed themselves by year 2015 to reduce significantly global poverty and the related problems of illiteracy, hunger, discrimination against women, unsafe drinking water and degraded environments and ecosystems.
Click here to download the ICSU press release.

Biodiversity loss poses grave threat to human health

By By Ehsan Masood, Source: SciDev.Net
The continued loss of biological diversity threatens human health as well as the survival of wild species, delegates at an international conference heard yesterday (23 August). If species continue to decline in number at the present rate, pharmaceutical companies will find it harder to develop new drugs and agriculture will lose an irreplaceable source of potential new crops.

Ecosystem services: a vital term in policy debates

By By Walter Reid, Robert Watson and Harold Mooney, Source: SciDev.Net
Walter Reid, Robert Watson and Harold Mooney defend the use of the term 'ecosystem services' as an essential way of communicating to policymakers the importance of the benefits that people receive from ecosystems.
The findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) - the largest-ever international assessment of the consequences of ecosystem change for human wellbeing - were released in March.

Amazon countries team up to tackle biopiracy

By By Luisa Massarani, Source: SciDev.Net
Representatives from patent offices in six Latin American nations that share the Amazon basin have agreed to work together against 'biopiracy' - the unauthorised commercial exploitation of their native species.
According to the Rio Declaration - signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 1 July - Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela will share information and jointly develop policies to tackle the phenomenon.

Ecosystems and human well-being: A biodiversity synthesis

MA uses World Biodiversity Day to launch global report. In its final report of the current status of biodiversity, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) points a finger at human activity as the primary driver of biodiversity change and loss, stresses the essential role and value of ecosystem services, and emphasises the urgent need to improve conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
Admittedly, Ecosystems and human well-being paints a rather bleak picture of how profoundly humans have affected the Planet, particularly in the past 50 years. The report places responsibility for improving future prospects squarely on the shoulders of humankind and asserts a vested interest—both individually and collectively—in acting quickly.
Follow the link for more information on the MA Report and media coverage of its release.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment delivers stark message

According to a landmark report, 60 per cent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth are being degraded or used unsustainably-and the ensuing strain on ecosystems overall is causing potentially irreversible change.
Following intense global effort to measure the current state of biodiversity, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment held press conferences (30 March 2005) in the UK, Egypt, France, Japan, Malaysia and South Africa to launch its first report - Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: A framework for assessment.

China plans wildlife 'health-checks' to protect people

By by Hepeng Jia, Source: SciDev.Net
Authorities in China have launched a nationwide programme to protect public health by monitoring outbreaks of disease among wild animals. The State Forest Administration will set up 150 observation stations nationwide and publicise any outbreaks of animal disease that could threaten human health.

Garden of Eden can be restored, say scientists

By by Mike Shanahan, Source: SciDev.Net
The first scientific study of Iraq's Mesopotamian marshes to have been carried out in several decades has revealed widespread ecological damage, but also that great potential exists to restore the environmentally, economically and culturally significant wetlands. The marshes — considered by some scholars to be the site of the biblical 'Garden of Eden' — have sustained considerable damage, functioning ecosystems remain in just ten per cent of the original 15,000 square kilometres.

Bangladesh hit by fresh outbreak of bat-borne virus?

By by Mustak Hossain, Source: SciDev.Net
Nipah virus has returned to Bangladesh for the fourth successive year, claiming at least 12 lives and infecting a further 32 people since it was first reported on 10 January. According to Bangladesh's Department of Disease Control, the latest outbreak began in Tangail district, north of Dhaka, where 13 people developed a fever and became unconscious after drinking the juice of local palm fruits.

Do we need another global panel on biodiversity?

By by David Dickson, Source: SciDev.Net
The desire of French president Jacques Chirac to boost political efforts to defend biodiversity is welcome. His specific proposals on how to do this are more debatable. Few can now doubt that protecting the world's living systems from the damaging side effects of rapid economic and industrial growth is one of the biggest challenges facing modern society.

Mangrove forests can reduce impact of tsunamis

By by T. V. Padma, Source: SciDev.Net
Dense mangrove forests growing along the coasts of tropical and sub-tropical countries can help reduce the devastating impact of tsunamis and coastal storms by absorbing some of the waves' energy, say scientists. More...

Can we halt the loss of biodiversity?

By by Tony Reichhardt, Source: SciDev.Net
Although scientists value precision, politicians often find it helpful to be vague. When 188 nations, all parties to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), pledged at The Hague two years ago "to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level", the lack of specificity was deliberate. Who could really say what "significant" meant, or be sure of the current rate of loss ? And since the language didn’t seem terribly binding, why not sign up ? More...

Fewer fish means more bushmeat eaten in Ghana

By by Mike Shanahan, Source: SciDev.Net
Declines in fish catches lead directly to increased hunting and consumption of wildlife, according to a study published today (12 November) in Science. The research shows that unsustainable fishing practices can have far-reaching consequences for poverty alleviation, food security and biodiversity conservation. More

Multi-million dollar fund banks on crop diversity

By by Catherine Brahic, Source: SciDev.Net
An international fund to help preserve agricultural biodiversity was launched yesterday (21 October). The Global Crop Diversity Trust, currently worth more that US$50 million, with an additional $60 million of raised funds in negotiation, will provide funding for national and international crop collections around the world. More

Biodiversity research gets US$1m boost in Brazil

By by SÚrgio Adeodato, Source: SciDev.Net
The Brazilian government has launched a US$1 million project to gather its biodiversity knowledge into a single network of national databases. The project, which will involve the creation of new specimen collection centres, aims to give Brazil control over its own biodiversity as well as any commercial benefits that arise from its use. More

Scientists puzzled by plant invasion on Venezuelan lake

By by Carol Marzuola, Source: SciDev.Net
Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo is facing the world's biggest known invasion of duckweed, an aquatic plant. And while scientists agree over potential causes, there is widespread disagreement, fuelled in part by a lack of basic research, about if and when the weed will die out. The lake is the largest body of freshwater in South America and officials say duckweed (Lemna obscura) now covers between eight and ten per cent of its 13,280 sq km surface. But others, citing satellite photos obtained from NASA in July, claim that the duckweed coverage has reached 20 per cent. More


Last updated: 05 October 2007

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