Two comprehensive global assessments of biodiversity and land degradation and restoration, produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), were recently approved at an IPBES Plenary in Medellín, Colombia. IPBES has 129 State Members, including the United States.
More than a dozen University experts contributed to the Americas portion of the regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem. University experts also played a lead role in the world’s first comprehensive evidence-based assessment of land degradation and restoration.
Ecology, Evolution and Behavior faculty members Jeannine Cavender-Bares served as coordinating lead author of the Americas assessment and Forest Isbell was lead author of the Americas assessment and a lead author of the Land Degradation and Restoration assessment.
From the Americas assessment of the biodiversity report: The Americas region is highly biologically diverse and hosts seven of the 17 most biodiverse countries on the planet. As a consequence of its high biodiversity and rich variety of ecosystems, it claims 40 percent of the world’s natural capacity to support human quality of life, yet only 13 percent of the global human population. The economic value from nature in the Americas is estimated at more than $24 trillion per year, equivalent to the region’s gross domestic product.
From the land degradation and restoration report: For the first time in modern human history, more land is being dropped from use in agriculture than converted to it, creating an unprecedented opportunity for ecological restoration. This report details the dangers of land degradation—which cost the equivalent of about 10 percent of the world’s annual gross product in 2010 through the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services—along with corrective options for restoring degraded land.
“It has been quite a learning experience to participate in the science-policy process!” says Cavender-Bares. “Over 100 governments are represented here in Medellin, including the United States, and the high level of dialogue on biodiversity has been inspiring."