Research Article: Antarctica and the strategic plan for biodiversity

Date Published: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Steven L. Chown, Cassandra M. Brooks, Aleks Terauds, Céline Le Bohec, Céline van Klaveren-Impagliazzo, Jason D. Whittington, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Bernard W. T. Coetzee, Ben Collen, Peter Convey, Kevin J. Gaston, Neil Gilbert, Mike Gill, Robert Höft, Sam Johnston, Mahlon C. Kennicutt, Hannah J. Kriesell, Yvon Le Maho, Heather J. Lynch, Maria Palomares, Roser Puig-Marcó, Peter Stoett, Melodie A. McGeoch

Abstract: The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, adopted under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity, provides the basis for taking effective action to curb biodiversity loss across the planet by 2020—an urgent imperative. Yet, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, which encompass 10% of the planet’s surface, are excluded from assessments of progress against the Strategic Plan. The situation is a lost opportunity for biodiversity conservation globally. We provide such an assessment. Our evidence suggests, surprisingly, that for a region so remote and apparently pristine as the Antarctic, the biodiversity outlook is similar to that for the rest of the planet. Promisingly, however, much scope for remedial action exists.

Partial Text: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international agreement established to sustain the diversity of life on Earth. In 2010, following assessments showing that over the previous decade the state of global biodiversity continued to decline [1], the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 [2] (hereafter the Strategic Plan) was developed under the aegis of the CBD. The specific aim of the Strategic Plan is to take effective and urgent action to halt biodiversity loss, to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thus securing the variety of Earth’s life and contributing to human well-being and poverty eradication. Its stated intent is to provide an overarching framework for the assessment and protection of biodiversity, not only for the entire United Nations system but for all partners engaged in biodiversity management and policy development [2].

Overall, our assessment suggests that the biodiversity prospects for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean for 2020, and beyond to 2050, are similar to those for the rest of the planet (Fig 1). Such a conclusion will strike many as controversial, especially if selected, individual comparisons are made, such as between global habitat destruction and the impression of what is happening on the Antarctic continent. Indeed, in many ways the Antarctic region is often considered a gold standard for conservation management (see discussion in [42–44]). Our evidence-based assessment suggests, however, that the current situation is not quite living up to such a view.



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