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MEDIA REPORTS

BIODIVERSITY AND WILDLIFE

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2007

 

Biodiversity and Wildlife Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

NOVEMBER 2007

SIX OUT OF EIGHT BEAR SPECIES ON IUCN RED LIST
The world’s smallest species of bear, the sun bear living in mainland Southeast Asia, Sumatra and Borneo, has been added in the Vulnerable category of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, following a meeting of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group in November 2007. Despite conservation efforts, China’s giant panda remains endangered, while other vulnerable species include Asiatic black bears and sloth bears, as well as Andean bears. Among the eight species of bears, only the American black bear is secure throughout its range. Brown bears are not listed as threatened globally because large numbers still inhabit Russia, Canada, Alaska and some parts of Europe, although some highly vulnerable populations exist in southern Europe and central and southern Asia.

Link to further information
IUCN press release, 12 November 2007

FIRST AFRICAN AND ARAB GENE BANK CREATED IN TUNISIA, ONLINE DATABASE UNDERWAY IN LATIN AMERICA
The first African and Arab gene bank, aiming at preserving genetic resources and promoting scientific research, was recently inaugurated in Tunisia. The gene bank is equipped with refrigerated rooms capable of hosting 200,000 samples of genetic resources, notably seeds, tissues or pollens, as well as research laboratories.

In related news, the Latin American Plant Initiative, an initiative to put thousands of botanical specimens from Latin America into a single online database, is underway following a meeting held in October 2007, at the Panama-based Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Links to further information
Tunisia Online, 13 November 2007
SciDev.Net news story, 12 November 2007

PROTECTED AREAS: CANADA SETS LARGEST FRESHWATER CONSERVATION AREA, EC EXTENDS NATURA 2000 NETWORK
As recently announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the largest freshwater protected area was established at Lake Superior, the biggest of the Great Lakes, encompassing more than 10,000 sq. km and including lake bed, islands and north shorelands.

In related news, the European Commission (EC) adopted four decisions that significantly extend the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in four biogeographical regions, concerning the adoption of an initial list of Sites of Community Importance in the Pannonian region in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and the updating of the existing lists in the Atlantic, Boreal and Continental biogeographical regions.

Links to further information
Reuters News Service, 29 October 2007
EC press release, 13 November 2007

EU STUDY TO EXPLORE ECONOMICS OF BIODIVERSITY LOSS
An EU study has been launched to support the development of cost-effective policy responses to biodiversity loss. Initiated by the German Presidency of the EU in March 2007 at the G8+5 summit of environment ministers in Potsdam, with a proposal to “initiate the process of analysing the global economic benefit of biological biodiversity, the costs of the loss of biodiversity and the failure to take protective measures versus the cost of effective conservation,” and modeling the Stern Review on the economics of climate change, the first phase of the study is expected to review relevant scientific and economic knowledge and case studies, providing indications of the range of costs and benefits related to biodiversity loss. In this regard, the European Commission has launched a six-week-long call for evidence on the economics of biodiversity loss (deadline is 31 December 2007). All interested stakeholders in Europe and worldwide, including government, academic, private sector, scientific, NGO and other experts, are invited to submit contributions.

Links to further information
Euractiv.com, 16 November 2007
The call for evidence

OCTOBER 2007

 

RAMSAR AND GRASP SIGN MOU

The Ramsar Secretariat and the UNEP-Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to produce a documentary film to highlight the correlations between the sustainable management of wetlands and the great apes. This awareness-raising tool, which will be funded equally by UNEP and Ramsar, will focus on Petit Loango, a Wetland of International Importance hosting great apes in the Republic of Gabon.

Link to further information
Ramsar Press release, 24 October 2007

BRAZIL PROPOSES INCLUDING BIOFUELS IN WTO ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS NEGOTIATIONS
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Trade and Environment special session (CTE-SS) met informally on 2 October 2007, to continue advancing on its Doha mandate to negotiate “the reduction or, as appropriate, elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services.”  At the meeting, Brazil proposed including biofuels in the list of products identified for tariff cuts, and proposed determining such list on the basis of a request-offer process (JOB (07/146)). Brazil’s proposal to list biofuels as an environmental good was received with some skepticism by developed countries, which place high tariffs on ethanol (like the US and the EU). The proposed “request-offer” process to determine the list, however, was contemplated as a possible way out for the current deadlock between countries favoring a list of products and those proposing the end use (for example waste management activities) to determine which products will receive more favorable tariff treatment. The Brazilian proposal will be further addressed in the next session of the CTE-SS scheduled for 1-2 November 2007 (Source: ICTSD).

Link to additional information
ICTSD Bridges, 10 October 2007

ARCTIC SEED VAULT TAKES SHAPE
Two weeks before the second session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (29 October-2 November 2007, Rome, Italy), media reports indicate that construction of the seed storage depository in Norway’s Svalbard islands in the Arctic is progressing, and opening is scheduled for February 2008. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which duplicates seeds already stored elsewhere in the world, aims to provide an additional safety net for the world’s food supply, protecting valuable plant genetic resources against diseases, climate change, wars and natural disasters.

Links to further information
Svalbard Global Seed Vault press brief and broadcast
Svalbard Global Seed Vault website

Reuters News Service, 21 September 2007

SEPTEMBER 2007

UNESCO ADDS NEW SITES TO BIOSPHERE RESERVE NETWORK
Following a recent meeting in Paris, France, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added 23 sites to its Man and the Biosphere Programme. The additional sites include, inter alia, habitats in three countries that have not been part of the Programme before: mangroves in El Salvador; limestone formations in Qatar; and sea grass beds and coral reefs in the United Arab Emirates. Launched in 1970, the Man and Biosphere Programme targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and uses its network of biosphere reserves as vehicles for knowledge-sharing, research and participatory decision-making. The biosphere reserves currently include 529 sites in 105 countries.

Link to further information
UNESCO press release, 20 September 2007

THEME FOR 2008 INTERNATIONAL BIODIVERSITY DAY ANNOUNCED
“Biodiversity and Agriculture” will be the theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity, to be celebrated on 22 May 2008.

Link to further information
CBD press release, 20 September 2007

DEBATE HEATS UP OVER BIOPIRACY, GENETIC RESOURCES RULES
Following the sentencing of Marc van Roosmalen, a Dutch-born primatologist, to 16 years in a Brazilian jail for breaking laws introduced to protect that country’s natural resources, tensions seem to have grown between scientists and conservationists, according to SciDev.Net’s David Dickson, who notes that “for many scientists the case symbolises what they see as the unfair victimisation of the scientific community by those seeking to preserve natural environments at any cost.” Dickson concludes that “nobody wins when regulations are either ignored or overzealously applied, whatever the supposed justification.”

In related news, a workshop held in Beijing, China, in September 2007, concluded that developing countries need to improve governance of their genetic resources, in order to benefit from them. Particularly, governments should define what constitutes “payable natural resource” and who owns it, the national government or the local community.

Links to further information
SciDev.Net editorial, 14 September 2007

SciDev.Net News Release, 6 September 2007

IUCN RED LIST GROWS, INCLUDES CORALS, DOLPHINS, APES, VULTURES
Widely recognized as the most authoritative assessment of the planet’s species, the IUCN Red List for 2007 was announced on 12 September 2007. It includes 16,306 species threatened with extinction, while some of its highlights include: the decline of the great apes; the first appearance of corals; the Yangtze River Dolphin listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct; the decline of vultures and the listing of 1,217 birds as threatened; and the listing of 723 North American reptiles.

Links to further information
IUCN press release, 12 September 2007

2007 Red List web page

NEW PROTECTED AREA DESIGNATED IN COLOMBIA, WILDLIFE DECLINING IN AFRICA’S PARKS
A new national park in Colombia, stretching from the Amazon Basin to the Andean Mountains, will protect the area’s rich biodiversity and also enable indigenous communities, including the Inga and Yanaconas, to conserve and consolidate their culture. In related news, according to a study published in the African Journal of Ecology, wildlife populations are decreasing inside Africa’s protected areas, due in part to bushmeat hunting, drought and farming in areas surrounding the parks.

Links to further information
Environment News Service, 31 August 2007

Inter Press Service News Agency, 8 September 2007

UNGA ADOPTS DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
On 13 September 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. One hundred forty-three member States voted in favor of the Declaration, while eleven abstained and Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US voted against the non-binding text, which addresses the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, and their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

Link to further information
UNPFII website

AUGUST 2007

CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO SAVE CRITICALLY ENDANGERED BIRDS
In an effort to raise funds to save all 189 of the world’s critically endangered birds from extinction, Birdlife International has invited companies, organizations and individuals to become BirdLife Species Champions by contributing the necessary funding. The champions will fund the work of Species Guardians for each bird – the organizations and people identified as best carrying out the conservation work needed to prevent a species’ extinction.

Links to further information
BirdLife Species Champions webpage
ENS news release, 16 August 2007

UN MISSION TO INVESTIGATE KILLINGS OF GORILLAS IN DRC
An expert mission supported by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to probe the recent,  apparently senseless, slaughter of mountain gorillas, a highly endangered species inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list. The mission will investigate the reasons for targeting the animals and propose measures for their protection and for improving the conservation of the site. Some 700 mountain gorillas are estimated to still live in the area of the DRC’s border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Link to further information
UN News release, 10 August 2007

INTERNATIONAL DAY RECOGNIZES INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ CONTRIBUTIONS
In his message marking International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, observed on 9 August, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recalled the theme for the Second International Decade of World’s Indigenous People (2005-2015), “Partnership for action and dignity,” and called for effective participation of indigenous peoples in achieving the international development agenda, respect for their human rights and elimination of discrimination, marginalization and poverty. Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Sha Zukang, noted that indigenous peoples are often located in biologically rich areas and have accumulated a wealth of knowledge about the functioning of these environments, which can play a crucial role in adapting to and redressing climate change impact.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 9 August 2007
UN Secretary-General’s Press Release, 3 August 2007
UN Press Release, 7 August 2007

JULY 2007

UNDP-GEF BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION PROJECT REPORTS PROGRESS
The UN Development Programme-Global Environment Facility’s (UNDP-GEF) project Biodiversity conservation in coffee, which seeks to protect coffee farmers and biodiversity in Latin America, is making strides, according to a project report dated 14 June 2007. The project focuses on establishing new, environmentally and socially responsible ways of doing business, and one of the main strategies is to transform productive practices in the coffee sector by increasing market demand for certified sustainable coffee. The project works with major coffee traders, roasters and importers to increase the volumes of Rainforest Alliance certified (RAC) coffee, one of the most rigorous and complete sustainability standards in the coffee industry. An early success has been the announcement that 1,200 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK and Ireland will exclusively sell RAC coffee.

Link to further information
UNDP-GEF Project report

DEADLINE SET FOR COMPLIANCE WITH WTO BIOTECH RULING
The EU has agreed with Argentina, Canada and the US on a 21 November 2007 deadline for compliance with the World Trade Organization ruling in the case of the EU approval procedure for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The ruling had claimed that the application of EU-wide and national moratoria on the approval of GMOs at the time the case was filed was illegal under WTO law. Meanwhile, EU member states continue to be divided over the approval of new GMOs, while Greece has just extended its ban on GM maize.

Link to further information
Bridges Trade BioRes, 6 July 2007

KENYA AND DANISH COMPANY ENTER INTO BIOPROSPECTING AGREEMENT
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Danish company Novozymes have entered a five-year memorandum of understanding, giving the company rights to exploit the country’s microbial biodiversity within the KWS-controlled areas. KWS will receive royalties from the sales of any products developed from microorganisms originating in Kenya. The company will also assist Kenya through technology transfer, institutional capacity building and training of Kenyan students.

Link to further information
SciDev.Net, 5 July 2007

JUNE 2007

EBAY TO BAN IVORY TRADE
Online auction house eBay announced it will ban international trade of elephant ivory on its sites, following a study by the International Fund for Animal Welfare which found that nine out of ten ivory items sold on the internet are probably illegal.

Link to further information
Reuters News Service, 6 June 2007

MAY 2007

INTERNATIONAL BIODIVERSITY DAY CELEBRATED
This year’s International Biodiversity Day, on 22 May 2007, focused on biodiversity and climate change. Celebrations were held in a number of countries, while in Montreal, Canada, the seat of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), celebrations took place at the Botanical Gardens with the participation of government officials and international participants. In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon noted that “the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is an essential element of any strategy to adapt to climate change.” CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf stressed that “the relationship between biodiversity and climate change runs both ways. Climate change is an important driver of the loss of biodiversity. At the same time, the loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of natural habitats also contribute to climate change.”

Links to further information
CBD press release, 22 May 2007
UN Secretary-General’s statement
CBD Executive Secretary’s statement

EUROPEAN SCIENTISTS INVITED TO SIGN CONSENSUS STATEMENT ON MARINE RESERVES
Biologist Callum Roberts at York University, UK, is inviting European scientists to sign a consensus statement to affirm the need for no-take marine reserves and express concern for what the statement terms a “lack of progress in implementing marine reserve networks in European waters.” The statement is timed to inform discussions in preparation for the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (to be held in Germany in 2008) and ongoing negotiations for a new EU law for the protection of Europe’s seas. Roberts intends to release the statement on 8 June 2007, World Oceans Day.

Link to further information
The European statement

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE REVOKES MONSANTO SOY PATENT
On 3 May 2007, the European Patent Office appeal board revoked a patent held by Monsanto on a technique for genetically modified soybeans, on the grounds that it lacked novelty and sufficient disclosure. The patent, which is credited with giving Monsanto unprecedented control over GM soybeans, was first granted to US biotech company Agracetus in 1994. It was since opposed by various environmental groups and agribusiness companies, including Monsanto, until the latter acquired Agracetus in 1996 and took control of the patent.

Links to further information
ETC Group press release, 3 May 2007

Bridges Trade BioRes, 11 May 2007

WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY HIGHLIGHTS CLIMATE CHANGE
On 12-13 May 2007, a series of events took place around the world to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, focusing on the impacts of climate change on migratory birds. World Migratory Bird Day was organized by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

In related news, CMS Deputy Executive Secretary Lahcen el Kabiri, in his address to the 26th Session of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation, announced a new initiative, led by the UK and the United Arab Emirates, to negotiate a CMS Agreement for African and Eurasian birds of prey, for which climate change is one of several threats

Links to further information
World Migratory Bird Day website
CMS press release, 7 May 2007

RAMSAR, UNESCO AND IUCN SIGN MOU WITH AIRLINE GROUP
On 14 May 2007, the Ramsar Convention, UNESCO-Man and the Biosphere (MAB) and IUCN-the World Conservation Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Star Alliance airline group, thereby launching “Biosphere Connections.” This new programme will develop over the next years as a key means to communicate to the wider public the activities of the three organizations. In addition, under the partnership, the Star Alliance will assist field workers from the three environmental agencies with transport to relevant meetings.

Links to further information
Ramsar Press Release, 14 May 2007
IUCN press release, 14 May 2007
Biosphere connections website

UNEP/CHINESE INITATIVE TO CURB ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
An initiative to assist customs officers in China deal with multi-billion dollar environmental crime has been initiated by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), secretariats of multilateral environment agreements (MEAs), the Chemical Weapons Convention, the World Customs Organisation and Interpol. The effort seeks to equip customs officials with the necessary skills and know-how to address this growing problem. A wide range of chemicals are controlled, banned or subject to phase outs under MEAs, nonetheless, environmental crime and illegal trade is estimated to be valued at tens of billion dollars a year.


Link to further information

UNEP Press release, 16 May 2007

EQUATOR PRIZE AWARDED TO FIVE COMMUNITY GROUPS
The UN Development Programme announced the winners of the Equator Prize on 22 May 2007 during a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York, US. Five community groups from tropical regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America won the US$ 30,000 prize for their initiatives to alleviate poverty while conserving local biodiversity. The honor recognized efforts to: sustainably manage an octopus fishery in Madagascar; conserve grasslands and savannah as part of an ecotourism venture in Kenya; conserve nut forests in Guatemala; promote the alternative use of marine resources and control invasive plant species in Ecuador; and deliver information to locals about sustainable agricultural practices and market prices in Bangladesh.

Links to further information

UNDP news release, 22 May 2007

Webcast of announcement

 

UNEP ANNOUNCES THAT BILLION TREE CAMPAIGN HIT GOAL ON INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
The UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) campaign to secure pledges to plant one billion trees has achieved its goal seven months early. To mark International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2007, Senegal pledged to plant 20 million trees, taking the campaign over its target. The campaign will now switch to ensuring that the pledges result in one billion planted trees by the end of the year.


Link to further information

UNEP news release, 22 May 2007

 

APRIL 2007

 

UNESCO URGES DRC TO END KILLING OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS IN WORLD HERITAGE SITES

In a letter from Koïchiro Matsuura, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Director-General, to Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Jean-Marie Guehenno, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Matsuura urges that measures be taken to stop the poaching and killing of endangered animals in the five World Heritage sites of the DRC. The letter follows reports that several hundred hippopotami and at least two mountain gorillas have been killed in recent months in the Virunga National Park, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and on the World Heritage List in Danger in 1994. Matsuura also calls for extending the mandate of the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC) to include protection of the DRC’s World Heritage sites and other protected areas.

Link to further information
UNESCO World Heritage Conservation press release, 26 April 2007

EUROPEAN COMMISSION CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY APPLICATIONS
The European Commission adopted a Communication on the mid-term review of the EU’s Strategy on Life Sciences and Biotechnology 2002-2010 on 11 April 2007. The Communication notes that the original design of the Strategy followed a holistic approach that is “still relevant today,” but the mid-term review “refocuses the Action Plan on sector specific issues and prioritises actions in those areas where the potential benefits of biotechnology can be maximised.” The review proposes to refocus the EU’s action plan on five interdependent priority actions: promote research and market development for life sciences and biotech applications; foster competitiveness by facilitating knowledge transfer and innovation from the science base to industry; encourage informed societal debates on the benefits and risk of life sciences and biotechnology; ensure a sustainable contribution of modern biotechnology to agriculture; and improve the implementation of the legislation and its impact on competitiveness.

In response, the European biotechnology industry welcomed the review and urged ministers to implement the strategy in a coherent and timely manner.  Friends of the Earth Europe stated that the Commission ignored the wishes of the majority of the European public as well as its own research, which shows that the use of GM crops is an economic failure.

Link to further information
Euractiv.com, 24 April 2007

GLOBAL CROP DIVERSITY TRUST SECURES FUNDS TO SAFEGUARD CRITICAL FOOD CROPS
The Global Crop Diversity Trust, which aims to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security in formal relationship with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, announced, in partnership with the UN Foundation, a joint initiative to safeguard 21 of the world’s most critical food crops through securing their seeds. The initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of Norway. Among the crops covered are many “orphan crops,” crops particularly important to the poor but largely neglected by modern plant breeding, despite the need for high-yielding, nutritious varieties.

Link to further information
Global Crop Diversity Trust press release, 19 April 2007

MARCH 2007

FUNDING AGREEMENT TO SAFEGUARD RICE BIODIVERSITY
An agreement between the Global Crop Diversity Trust and the International Rice Research Institute announced aims to safeguard the biodiversity of rice. Under the agreement, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) will invest US$400,000 annually in its Genetic Resources Center in the Philippines, while the Global Crop Diversity Trust will donate US$200,000. The pledges allow for interest rate fluctuations and will remain in force indefinitely.

Link to further information
SciDev.net, 13 March 2007

NEW SYSTEMS TO BOOST ACCESS TO GENETIC RESOURCES IN BRAZIL AND PERU
The Brazilian government has announced a new system that will issue licenses to collect biological material for scientific research and teaching purposes more quickly. The new Biodiversity Authorization and Information System (Sisbio) allows licenses to be granted up to 45 days after an online application.

Peru has also created an online system for the country’s biodiversity. It includes a database showing in real time the national and international research being done with genetic resources native to Peru, as well as a register of researchers who have applied for a permit to work in protected sites, forests and wildlife habitats. If a research application is accepted, a permit will be automatically issued within two weeks.

Links to further information
SciDev.net, 13 March 2007
SciDev.net, 22 March, 2007

GLOBAL MAP OF PLANT BIODIVERSITY PRESENTED
Biologists at the University of California in San Diego, US, and the University of Bonn, Germany, have published a global map of estimated plant species richness. The map, which is said to be the most extensive one of biodiversity distribution on the planet to date, highlights areas of particular concern for conservation, and identifies the likely impact of climate change on the services plants provide to humans.

Link to further information
Science Daily, 22 March 2007

CIVIL SOCIETY PROTESTS PATENTING OF SEEDS AND ANIMALS
The “Global Appeal Against Patents on Seeds and Farm Animals,” a coalition of environmental and development NGOs and farmers’ organizations, has recently launched an initiative against a push by the European Patent Office to allow for patents on seeds, conventional plant varieties and animal species.

Link to further information
The coalition’s website

UNDP ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR BIODIVERSITY PRIZE
On 12 March 2007, the Equator Initiative, a partnership between the UN, civil society, business, governments and communities led by UN Development Programme (UNDP), announced the finalists for its 2006 Equator Prize, honoring 25 efforts to conserve and sustainably use the equatorial region’s biodiversity with a view to reducing poverty. The finalists’ projects range from innovative ecotourism to sustainable crocodile-egg harvesting.

Link to further information
UNDP press release, 12 March 2007

ACCOBAMS TO CONSIDER WHALE PROTECTION FOR STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR
The third meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), to be held in October 2007, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, will consider a new proposal to protect the Strait of Gibraltar and the adjacent Alboran Sea, areas used by fin, sperm, Cuvier’s beaked and killer whales, as well as bottlenose and common dolphins and harbor porpoises for feeding and breeding.

Links to further information
The ACCOBAMS website
Environment News Service, 5 March 2007

WITH CITES COP APPROACHING, ELEPHANTS CONTROVERSY LOOMS
Controversy among the countries favoring strict conservation of elephants, such as Kenya and Mali, and those proposing sustainable trade of their ivory stockpiles, including Botswana and Namibia, has intensified on the eve of the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to be held in June 2007, in The Hague, the Netherlands. A number of recent media reports focus on the threat that ivory trade poses on the future of the African elephant, while others point to the fact that South Africa’s conservation efforts have been so successful that the country is now proposing to implement measures to limit fertility or cull elephants.

Links to further information
ICTSD Trade BioRes, 2 March 2007
Reuters News Service, 26 February 2007
The Times, 27 February 2007
Environment News Service, 27 February 2007
Environment News Network, 28 February 2007

SPECIES (RE)DISCOVERED IN INDONESIA, CAMBODIA, THAILAND
According to recent reports, twenty new species of sharks and rays have been discovered in Indonesia in a five-year survey of catches at local fish markets undertaken by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In related news, Large-billed Reed-warbler, a bird species not seen for 140 years, was rediscovered in Thailand; while in Cambodia, as a result of conservation measures, the rare Mekong dolphin seems to be coming back from the edge of extinction.

Links to further information
Environment News Network, 1 March 2007
Reuters News Service, 7 March 2007
Reuters News Service, 8 March 2007

FEBRUARY 2007


RAMSAR ENHANCES COLLABORATION WITH GRASP

On the sidelines of the 24th session of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF) in Nairobi, Kenya, Ramsar Secretary General Peter Bridgewater and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, in the presence of Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) Team Leader Melanie Virtue, signed an exchange of letters to enhance their collaboration. The GRASP Partnership is a World Summit on Sustainable Development Type II Partnership lead by UNEP and UNESCO, intended to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans across their ranges in equatorial Africa and southeast Asia. The project partners include: Ramsar; great ape range States and donor governments; the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements; UN institutions; international and national great ape conservation NGOs; the global great ape scientific community; and private sector entities. The letters provide that the Ramsar and GRASP Secretariats will, when feasible, cooperate: in the elaboration of management plans for Ramsar sites with great apes; towards the designation of new Ramsar sites with great ape habitats; on projects in or around transboundary sites with great apes habitat; and towards capacity building of Ramsar and GRASP focal points and site managers.

Link to further information
Ramsar press release, 9 February 2007

EU CITIZENS CALL FOR GMO LABELING OF MEAT AND EGGS
A petition containing 1,000,000 signatures calling for the labeling of milk, meat, eggs and other products of animals fed with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was delivered by Greenpeace to Markos Kyprianou, European Commissioner for Health. Upon receiving the petition, Commissioner Kyprianou said “A petition supported by one million citizens shows strong interest in this issue. We will look into the matter again. We will look into the science ... to see if what is asked of us would be justified.” Until now, such labeling is not required under EU law.

Links to further information
Greenpeace press release, 5 February 2007
EurActiv News, 5 February 2007
Bridges Trade BioRes, 16 February 2007
Reuters News Service, 6 February 2007 

USDA GMO APPROVALS CRITICIZED BY COURTS
US federal courts have recently published two decisions noting that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) did not properly evaluate the environmental impact of genetically engineered crops before permitting field trials. The courts ordered the USDA to halt approval of all new field trials of genetically engineered crops until more thorough environmental reviews are conducted, and ruled that past approvals were illegal. Both cases were filed by the Center for Food Safety and a coalition of farmers, consumers and environmentalists, and involved trials of herbicide-resistant grass and Roundup-ready alfalfa.

Links to further information
Center for Food Safety press release, 6 February 2007
Center for Food Safety press release, 14 February 2007
Reuters News Service, 15 February 2007
Bridges Trade BioRes, 16 February 2007

NORWAY PRESENTS DESIGN OF SVALBARD SEED VAULT
The Norwegian government presented the final design of the Svalbard International Seed Vault, a back-up seed bank that seeks to safeguard the world’s agriculture from future catastrophes, such as nuclear war and climate change. The seed vault, which is being organized by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, is scheduled to open in 2008.

Links to further information
BBC News, 9 February 2007
Environment News Service, 9 February 2007

STANDARD SET FOR WILD MEDICINAL PLANT HARVESTING
The World Organic Trade Fair, held from 15-18 February 2007 in Nuremberg, Germany, launched a new standard to promote sustainable management and trade of wild medicinal and aromatic plants and protect these plants from over-exploitation. The standard, which is set forth by the Medicinal Plant Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, is based on six principles: maintaining medicinal and aromatic plant resources in the wild; preventing negative environmental impacts; legal compliance; respecting customary rights; applying responsible management practices; and applying responsible business practices. It was set forth by the Medicinal Plant Specialist.

Links to further information
Environment News Service, 20 February 2007
The standard

SHARKS ADDED TO THE IUCN RED LIST
At a February 2007 meeting, an international expert workshop convened by the IUCN Species Survival Commission focused on assessing the global status of pelagic and semi-pelagic sharks and rays against the IUCN Red List Criteria. Experts highlighted the vulnerability of these species to overfishing and concluded that several species are now Threatened with extinction on a global scale.

Links to further information
IUCN press release, 22 February 2007

Reuters News Service, 23 February 2007

CITES ANNOUNCES SMALL EXPORT QUOTA FOR BELUGA CAVIAR
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) published, on 5 February 2007, export quotas for beluga and Heilongjiang/Amur River sturgeon caviar. States bordering the Caspian Sea have agreed to reduce the catch quota for beluga by 29% in 2007, in comparison with 2005, the last year for which quotas were approved. A limit on export of 3,761 kg of beluga has been established, according to which the quota was published by the Secretariat. According to information presented by the Caspian States, populations continue to fall. The Secretariat will refer the matter to the CITES Animals Committee, which has been given the authority by the CITES Parties to undertake reviews of the sustainability of trade authorized under CITES rules.

Link to further information
CITES press release, 5 February 2007

JANUARY 2007

WILDLIFE UPDATE: MADAGASCAR PROTECTS UNIQUE BIRDS; CONGO GUERILLAS AGREE TO STOP KILLING GORILLAS
In a move hailed by conservationists, Madagascar has decided to establish a protected area of almost 3,000 square kilometers of tropical wetlands, forests, savannas and caves, to protect a number of its unique birds. The area was granted protected status for two years, as a first step towards declaring permanent protection.

In other positive news, according to a report by Wildlife Direct, Congolese guerillas accused of killing and eating at least two of the world�s 700 remaining mountain gorillas, have agreed to stop the killings.

Links to further information
Reuters News Service, 24 January 2007
Reuters News Service, 25 January 2007

�HEART OF BORNEO� INITIATIVE OFFICIALLY ENDORSED � WWF ANNOUNCES DISCOVERY OF NEW SPECIES
The �Heart of Borneo,� a tri-country conservation initiative that was launched during the CBD COP-8 in Curitiba, Brazil, to protect one of the most important centers of biodiversity in the world, was officially endorsed by the Governments of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia during the Third Summit of the East Growth Area of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The initiative seeks to establish a network of transboundary protected areas across the borders of these three countries to maximize linkages, forest connectivity and sustainable land-use practices for effective management and conservation. According to CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf �the endorsement of the Heart of Borneo conservation initiative is a firm step toward achieving the 2010 biodiversity target, and implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity�s programmes of work on protected areas and forest biological diversity.�

Covering an area of 220,000 km2 of mountainous regions, and lying within both terrestrial and freshwater Global 200 ecoregions prioritized for biodiversity of global significance, the Heart of Borneo is home to tremendous biodiversity, including ten primate species, over 350 bird species, 150 reptile and amphibian species, and 10,000 plant species. According to a recent WWF report, over 50 new species were discovered in Borneo in 2006, including 30 fish, two tree frog, 16 ginger and three tree species.

Links to further information
CBD press release, 15 January 2007
WWF press release, 19 December 2006

EU WILD BIRDS BAN CAUSES FRICTION
On 11 January 2007, the CITES Secretariat published a press release to express its disappointment at the announcement by the EU of an indefinite ban on imports of wild birds. As noted in the press release, �the EU ban has been adopted on the grounds that it will help prevent the spread of avian flu and other diseases in human beings, but as it only concerns the import of wild birds, it risks casting the wrong impression that the international bird trade is not effectively controlled. However, this trade is carefully regulated by the 169 member countries of CITES.� The CITES Secretariat highlighted that the EU measure risks driving the market underground and making it less transparent; undermining the impoverished communities who depend on the environmentally sustainable trade in birds, and removing their economic incentives for protecting bird habitat.

Conservationists, however, applauded the EU decision to ban wild bird trade, noting that trapping for the international bird trade has been identified as a contributing factor in the threat status of one in 20 threatened and near-threatened bird species, with parrots being particularly affected.

Links to further information
CITES press release, 11 January 2007
BirdLife International press release, 12 January 2007
Times Online, 12 January 2007

GOVERNMENTS SUBMIT PROPOSALS FOR CITES LISTINGS
Proposals to amend the CITES appendices have been submitted by parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in time for CITES COP-14, to be held in June 2007, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The proposals suggest changing the trade status of flora and fauna ranging from charismatic mammals such as the African elephant and leopard, to commercially valuable marine species such as sharks, eels and coral.

Links to further information
Proposals for amendments of Appendices I and II
WWF press release, 17 January 2007

RARE GIANT TURTLE REDISCOVERED IN THAILAND
The conservation group WWF has reported that a villager fishing in a mangrove in western Thailand found a rare mangrove terrapin, a species that had not been observed in the wild for over 20 years. The species is considered to be critically endangered in Thailand as well as in Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia, as it faces threats from: hunting; egg harvesting; loss of habitat and nesting beaches; and the incidental drowning in fishing nets.

Link to further information

WWF Press Release, 10 January 2007

CITES AUTHORIZES EXPORT QUOTAS FOR CAVIAR
In contrast with 2006, the CITES Secretariat published export quotas for caviar and other sturgeon products from the Caspian Sea for 2007. In 2006, quotas were not authorized because the five States concerned �Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan � did not provide sufficient information about the sustainability of their sturgeon catch. The 2007 combined quotas for caviar exports are 15% lower than for 2005, following an agreement among the Caspian Sea States to reduce the combined catch quotas for the six sturgeon species, recognizing that sturgeon stocks have declined in recent years. However, quotas for beluga have not been published, as the information provided by the five range States is not yet complete. The Secretariat has granted the range States an additional month to provide the missing information before a final decision is made.

Links to further information
UN News Release, 2 January 2007
CITES Press Release, 2 January 2007

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