Large-scale plantations detrimental to biodiversity: Global Biodiversity Panel

Unexpected changes in climate and biodiversity due to the harmful activities of humans have now come together and due to these, the threat to nature, human life, livelihood and public welfare has increased all over the world. Economic activities by humans are the root cause of both loss of biodiversity and climate change, and both mutually reinforce each other. The problem cannot be solved successfully unless both are treated together. This is the message given in the workshop report published today by 50 of the world’s top experts in the field of biodiversity and climate.

This report, reviewed by experts amongst themselves, is the result of a four-day virtual workshop of experts. The participating experts were selected by the Scientific Steering Committee constituted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This was the first of its kind coordination between these two intergovernmental entities.
The report found that climate change and biodiversity loss under earlier policies were generally treated separately and if assessing social impacts should reduce and reduce biodiversity loss. Together, efforts to combat climate change provide an opportunity to maximize gains and achieve the global development goals.
Professor Hans-Otto Portner, Co-Chair of the Scientific Steering Committee, said, “The threat to nature and its contribution to people is increasing continuously due to the harmful activities of humans. It also includes its ability to mitigate the effects of climate change. As the earth warms, there will be a reduction in food, drinking water and other major contributions made by nature in different regions.
He said, “Climate is affected as a result of change in biodiversity. In particular, this effect is through the nitrogen, carbon and water cycles. The evidence is quite clear: the goal of a sustainable global future for both humans and nature is still achievable, but it will require transformational changes and far-reaching steps that have never been taken before. These steps should be based on ambitious targets of reduction in emissions. Addressing some of the strong and apparently unavoidable interactions between climate and biodiversity will drive profound collective change in individual and shared values ​​of nature. Such as moving away from the hypothesis of considering only GDP-based development as economic progress and making such a view that there is a balance between the multiple values ​​of nature and human development for a quality life and does not violate biophysical and social boundaries. .”
The authors also caution that taking narrowly focused measures to combat climate change can harm nature, both directly and indirectly, but there are several measures that are significant in both these areas. can make a positive contribution. The most important available steps that have been identified in this report are as follows:

Preventing the loss and degradation of carbon and biological species rich ecosystems on land and oceans. Especially forests, wetlands, peatlands, grasslands and savannas. In addition, coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, salt marshes, kelp forests and sea grasslands, as well as deep water and polar blue habitats, have to be protected. The report highlights that by reducing deforestation and their decomposition, emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activities can be reduced by the equivalent of 0.4 to 5.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide every year. is.
Restore ecosystems that have been rich in carbon and bio-species. The authors point to evidence that recovery is the only nature-based approach that is the cheapest and fastest. This gives plants and animals their much awaited abode. In this way, in the form of climate change, it increases the sustainability of biodiversity. Apart from this, there are many other benefits like regulation of floods, protection of banks, increase in water quality, reduction of soil erosion and ensuring pollination. Restoring the ecosystem can create jobs and increase income, especially when taking into account the need and availability of the rights of endemic people and local communities.

Increasing the adoption of sustainable agriculture and forestry practices is necessary to increase the ability to adapt to climate change, increase biodiversity, increase carbon storage and reduce emissions. These measures include diversification of planted crops, wild bio-species, agro-forestry and agro-ecology. According to the report, improving management of agricultural land and pastures, such as conserving land and reducing the use of manure, is estimated to generate climate change emissions equivalent to 3-6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide annually.
Accelerate better-targeted conservation initiatives that have strong support for climate adaptation and innovation. At present, the area of ​​protected areas is spread over 15 percent of the land and 7.5 percent of the ocean. Significantly increasing, intact and effectively protected areas are expected to yield better results. Global estimates of the actual needs of effectively protected areas necessary to ensure an adaptable climate, self-sustaining biodiversity and good quality of life have not yet been established, but these are 30 per cent of all ocean and surface areas. are between 50 percent. Alternatives to improve the positive impacts of protected areas include greater resourceisation, better management and enforcement and better distribution with increased interconnectivity between these areas. Conservation measures beyond protected areas are also a matter of discussion. These include planning for displacement corridors and changing environments as well as better people’s engagement with nature to ensure equity in availability and better use of nature’s contribution to people.
Reduce the intensity of climate change and improve adaptation by eliminating subsidies that cause local and national activities that damage biodiversity, such as deforestation, overuse of fertilizers, and overfishing. help can be found. At the same time, it can also bring benefits such as changing individual consumption patterns, reducing waste and waste, and shifting dietary preferences to agro-based alternatives, especially in wealthy countries.
According to this report, some focused measures related to climate change mitigation and adaptation are harmful to biodiversity and the contribution of nature to people. These are as follows:-
Growing bioenergy crops in monoculture over a large area of ​​land. When these crops are grown on a large scale, they damage ecosystems. This reduces the contribution of nature to people and hinders the achievement of many of the goals of sustainable development. In addition to rapidly reducing pollution from fossil fuels, growing small-scale bioenergy crops for electricity or fuel production can have climate adaptation and biodiversity related co-benefits.
Planting trees in ecosystems that have historically not been forests, and afforestation with monoculture, especially by planting indigenous plant species. This can help in mitigating climate change. But it can often damage biodiversity, food production, and other nature’s contributions to people. This does not provide any obvious benefits of climate adaptation and may even displace local people due to increased competition for land.
Increasing irrigation potential. A common response to adapting agricultural systems to drought that often causes long-term decomposition of soils due to water conflicts, dam construction and salinization.
Any measure that focuses too narrowly on climate change mitigation should be advanced in terms of its full benefits and risks. For example, some types of renewable energy encourage mining activities or use large areas of land. The same holds true for some of the technological measures that focus too narrowly on adaptation. such as building dams and sea walls. While there are important options for mitigating and adapting to climate change, they can have large-scale negative environmental and social impacts. For example, interference with migratory species and habitat degradation etc. These impacts can be mitigated by developing alternative batteries and longer-lasting products, efficient recycling systems for mineral resources, and mining activities that take strong environmental and social sustainability concerns.
The report’s authors emphasize that while nature provides effective avenues to help mitigate the effects of climate change, these solutions can only be effective if they address all of the potential problems caused by human activities. be based on ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gases.