The UN biodiversity summit that commenced this week is expected to review the progress so far and come up with decisions that will provide the much-needed stimulus to achieve the targets
Over 170 countries, including Bhutan, are meeting in Hyderabad, India, for the 11th Conference of Parties (COP 11) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to chart out the next steps for the implementation of the strategic plan for biodiversity 2011-20.
The COP 11 follows the historic outcomes of the 2010 Nagoya biodiversity summit. In Nagoya, Japan, governments adopted a new strategic plan for biodiversity and two new supplementary protocols to the CBD, setting the course for halting biodiversity loss by the end of the current decade.
During the opening of the summit, the former Japanese minister of environment, who served as the COP 10 president in Nagoya, Mr. Ryu Matsumoto, said while the COP 10 outcomes are remarkable achievements, there will be no change unless they are implemented.
“At COP 11, I trust that we can agree on further measures to overcome challenges that require additional efforts,” said Mr. Ryu Matsumoto.
Taking over the presidency of COP 11, a term which runs from 2012 until 2014, the Indian minister of environment and forest, MsJayanthiNatarajan, said the present global economic crisis should not prevent but instead encourage to invest more toward amelioration of the natural capital to ensure uninterrupted ecosystem services, on which all life on earth depends.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, she said: “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems’. So let us commit ourselves to what we are capable of doing.”
Bhutan has been a party to the convention since its ratification in August 25, 1995.
Known as one of the 10 Biodiversity Hotspots in the world and the centre of 221 Global Endemic Bird Areas, Bhutan’s rich biodiversity includes more than 120 species of butterflies, 28 of which are endemic to the Eastern Himalayas, and as many as 750 plant species endemic to the Eastern Himalayas.
According to the Convention of Biological Diversity, Bhutan is ranked in the top 10% of countries with the highest species richness per unit area in the world. The country has the highest proportion of forest cover and protected areas among the Asian countries.
Bhutan’s ecosystems are represented by sub-tropical forests, warm and cool broad-leaved forests, evergreen oak forests, chir pine forests, alpine meadows and many more.
Bhutan has undertaken various measures to achieve the 2010 target which include ensuring the conservation of ecosystem and habitat biodiversity through the policy of maintaining at least 60% forest cover for all times. In addition, 26% of the total land area is under protected area management and 9% is set aside as biological corridors.
In terms of species diversity conservation, Bhutan is implementing several conservation programs including Tiger Conservation Program and the Social Forestry Program, which encourages local people to plant trees on private or community land and anti-poaching program.
One of the policies that protect endangered species in general is the Forest and Nature Conservation Act.
Some major features in Bhutan’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan include inventory of the biodiversity of Bhutan and the efforts undertaken to conserve the biodiversity, actions needed to conserve and sustainable use of the country’s biodiversity and options for actions that can be taken to realize additional benefits from Bhutan’s rich biodiversity.
The COP 11 meeting will consider, among others, the mobilization of resources in support of the Global Strategy for Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets, a report on the identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas in marine ecosystems as well as a number of other items related to the protection of biodiversity in marine ecosystems; ecosystem restoration and the relationship between biodiversity and climate change.
The meeting continues till October 19, with a high-level segment featuring the participation of ministers and heads of state that runs from 16 to 19 October 2012.