Tag Archives: Ecosystem

Marine biodiversity

I-Hsien Porter

The Census of Marine Life was published earlier this month, after a decade-long study by hundreds of scientists across the world. A total of 201,000 species were listed, but there may be up to 750,000 more species that are yet to be identified.

The census provides a baseline against which changes in biodiversity can be monitored. Many species are under pressure from climate change and pollution.

In a paper in The Geographical Journal, Liam Carr and William Heyman investigate the management of coastal marine resources in the Caribbean. The high biodiversity of the Caribbean is a resource for subsistence living, commercial fishing and tourism.

However, these activities aren’t without their conflicts. Marine resources are threatened by over-exploitation, as the tourism industry forces local people to widen the scope and intensity of fishing activities.

Carr and Heyman argue the need for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), where active conservation, education and enforcement of sustainable resource management practices take place. If focused on breeding grounds, MPAs can replenish biodiversity and fish stocks, with benefits beyond the immediate area. However, to be effective, MPAs must be introduced now, to maintain the health and resilience of threatened ecosystems, rather than attempting to repair damage after it has occurred.

Marine biodiversity faces a range of pressures and challenges. However, with prompt action, it might be possible to mitigate the effects of future change.

The Guardian (4th October 2010) Census of Marine Life

The Guardian (4th October 2010) TV Review: ‘Horizon: The Death of the Oceans?’

Carr, L M and Heyman, W. D. (2009) ‘Jamaica bound? Marine resources and management at a crossroads in Antigua and Barbuda’ The Geographical Journal 175 (1): 17-38

Everglades National Park on UNESCO’s ‘Danger List’

By Richard Gravelle

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee met in Brazil on Thursday (29th July 2010) to discuss the ‘danger list’ of world heritage sites at risk.  The meeting brings good news for the Galapagos Islands, well known for inspiring Darwin’s Origin of Species, which have been removed from the list after significant steps made by Ecuador to protect its ecosystem. 

Sadly however, both the tropical rainforest of Madagascar, and the Everglades National Park of Florida, USA have been added to the list.  Madagascar’s rainforest has suffered at the hands of loggers and illegal poachers in the past year, and development in the Everglades has resulted in a 60% decrease in water flow through the wetlands.

Worryingly for the national park, the addition to the list of the Everglades at the request of the US government isn’t the first time.  The wetlands were previously classified as ‘at-risk’ between 1993 and 2007 due to the effects of Hurricane Andrew.  On this occasion however, the committee cited urban and agricultural development and pollution as the causes for serious degradation of the wetlands aquatic ecosystem.

It is hoped that experts from UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will visit the property in 2010 to evaluate the state of the park and assist in the development of a conservation plan.  It is hoped that these steps will result in the area being removed from the danger list as soon as possible.

 BBC News – Everglades and Madagascar forests on Unesco danger list. 31st July 2010

 UNESCO – World Heritage Committee inscribes Everglades National Park on List of World Heritage in Danger. 30th July 2010