Chapter 1: Introduction
Biodiversity and ecosystems are degrading fast. Although the Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) held at The Hague, Netherlands in 2002 set a target of achieving a significant reduction in the rates of biodiversity loss by the year 2010, evidence shows that these rates have remained steady, if not accelerated. For instance, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA, 2005) suggests that future extinction rates will rise to more than 10 times higher than current extinction rates that are 1000 times higher than fossil records of less than one species per 1000 mammal species becoming extinct every millennium (Table 1.1). The IUCN’s Red List suggests that about 14 per cent of bird species, 22 per cent of mammals and 31 per cent of amphibians are threatened with extinction over the next century. The Living Planet Index – a measure of the state of the world’s biodiversity based on trends from 1970 to 2008 covering 1432 terrestrial species, 675 marine species and 734 freshwater species – indicates an overall decline of 30 per cent in the global living planet index over this period (Table 1.1). This decline was steeper (60 per cent) for tropical species. The Ecological Footprint – a measure of humanity’s demand on the earth’s biocapacity for meeting consumption needs and absorbing wastes – has exceeded the earth’s biocapacity by more than 50 per cent as of 2008.