7 May 2019

Kew Science contributes to landmark analysis of global biodiversity

By Kew Science News

Cloud forests in Los Farallones, Colombia

The UN-backed Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report, released on 6 May, is the most comprehensive analysis of the state of global biodiversity that has ever been undertaken. 

The report assesses changes over the past 50 years and looks at the impact that humanity is having on nature. It draws evidence from scientific and governmental sources, as well as, for the first time, local and indigenous knowledge. 

Contributions were made by more than 450 experts worldwide over the past three years, including insight, data and Red List inputs from Kew researchers. Former Director of Science Professor Kathy Willis played an active role in the report as a chapter co-author.

One of the most notable findings of the global assessment is that 1 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, Senior Research Leader in Conservation Science said

“This report highlights the fact that levels of extinction risk for major groups of plants are comparable to those for animal groups which are more often mentioned as threatened. The overall figures for plants are underpinned [in large part] by 1000s of individual extinction risk assessments undertaken by Kew scientists and collaborators studying groups such as cacti and conifers, as well as many grasses, palms and orchids”.

Current Director of Science, Professor Alexandre Antonelli welcomed the report, stating

“The loss of biodiversity is a much bigger problem than just counting species disappearances: it is the loss of species in our garden, our city, our country. This report confirms that that we can’t just preserve, we must reverse the trend by increasing biodiversity locally, regionally, and globally so I welcome the roadmap it sets out to address some of the challenges.”

He added

“Kew is contributing to some of the key international goals mentioned in the report, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.” 

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