This theme focusses on nature including species which underpins human quality of life by providing material goods and spiritual inspiration and collectively are responsible for healthy ecosystem function. Loss of biodiversity can permanently reduce future options as well as reducing ecosystem function essential for life on earth. This theme focuses on extinction and sustainability of both native and domesticated diversity with habitat loss and invasive alien species inextricably linked to extinction risk.
The challenges as highlighted by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) 2019 report found that around 25% of global species are threatened with extinction and without action there will be further acceleration of the global rate of extinction. Local varieties of domesticated plants and animals are also disappearing posing a risk to global food security by undermining resilience of agricultural systems to threats such as pests, pathogens and climate change. The conservation status of wild relatives of domesticated mammals and birds is also deteriorating.
The drivers of change with the largest impacts have been changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of plants and animals through harvesting, logging, unsustainable hunting and fishing; climate change; pollution and invasive alien species. Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 related to species aims for “extinctions prevented, and conservation status of threatened species improved” by 2020 but this will be not be achieved and the global analysis of progress towards this target is assessed as poor (IPBES 2019).
Pacific Islands have high levels of endemic species (species found nowhere else in the world) making them especially vulnerable to decline. However, traditional conservation focuses on rare species with significant investment in charismatic species. Is more attention needed on other species including common species that are also declining, of which are essential for ecosystem function?
We need a new paradigm, less consumer driven. Indigenous world views and sustainable management of species could provide valuable lessons for how to live with nature.
The conference will examine the status of species in the Pacific; which taxa groups are most at risk from extinction; what has suffered the greatest declines, and those least threatened, and why. It may also be important to understand what is happening to populations of common species; will a focus on the threatened species be enough to ensure maintenance of biodiversity? Gaps in knowledge about species, including population status and drivers of decline within the region will also be addressed. Then we will examine species conservation actions and look for common themes of success or failure; what governmental and institutional arrangements including customary institutions and incentives have supported effective outcomes for species protection, or failed to protect, and what we can learn? What are the most effective funding arrangements for assisting species protection? We will conclude by looking to define a new decade of action that will be effective in reducing species declines, prevent extinctions and maintain genetic diversity -what new commitments will we make?
Stakeholders involved include conservation managers, policy makes, scientists, non-government organisations, inter-government organisations, funding institutions, community groups and youth.
Some key questions include:
- What species groups have suffered the most declines in the Pacific and are at most risk of extinction, and why?
- What are the major knowledge gaps in species status and protection that we need to fill to enable us to effectively reduce species declines across the Pacific?
- What prioritisation tools do we have available, and how can we utilise these to help prioritise our efforts?
- Will a focus on threatened species be enough to prevent biodiversity loss in the coming decades, particularly to protect healthy ecosystem function?
- What governmental and institutional arrangements and policies including customary management systems and funding arrangements are needed to support preventing extinctions in practice?
- Protect and recover threatened species and preserve biodiversity, focusing on species and genetic diversity of ecological, cultural and economic significance - Objective 4 -Framework for Nature Conservation and Protected Areas in the Pacific Islands 2014-2020
- Aichi Biodiversity Target 12,7,9,13,16,18,19 - Convention on Biological Diversity