Saturday, 23 June 2012

IUCN 2012 update - 4 species extinct – 2 rediscovered – Food security waning


Securing the web of life
June, 2012. The source of our food, medicines and clean water, as well the livelihoods of millions of people may be at risk with the rapid decline of the world's animal and plant species. The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, released on the eve of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, shows that of the 63,837 species assessed, 19,817 are threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 33% of reef building corals, 25% of mammals, 13% of birds, and 30% of conifers. The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity.
"Sustainability is a matter of life and death for people on the planet," says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). "A sustainable future cannot be achieved without conserving biological diversity-animal and plant species, their habitats and their genes-not only for nature itself, but also for all 7 billion people who depend on it. The latest IUCN Red List is a clarion call to world leaders gathering in Rio to secure the web of life on this planet."
Freshwater ecosystems are under substantial pressure
While most people in wealthy countries depend primarily on domesticated species for their dietary needs, millions of other people are dependent on wild species. Freshwater ecosystems are under substantial pressure from expanding human populations and exploitation of water resources. An important food source, freshwater fish are facing threats from unsustainable fishing practices and habitat destruction caused by pollution and the construction of dams. A quarter of the world's inland fisheries are located on the African continent, yet 27% of freshwater fish in Africa are threatened including the Oreochromis karongae, an extremely important source of food in the Lake Malawi region that has been severely overfished. Further studies are being carried out in other regions and in the latest IUCN Red List update the Mekong Herring (Tenualosa thibaudeaui), an important commercial fish endemic to the lower Mekong River in the Indo-Burma region, has been listed as Vulnerable as a result of overfishing and habitat degradation.

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