Conservation Scientists Release Global Strategy To Halt Extinctions As Nations Decide Future Of Biodiversity

10/19/2010

Alliance for Zero Extinction Partners Identify 587 Sites Worldwide that are Home to 920 Species on the Brink

Washington, DC – Sixty-eight biodiversity conservation institutions from twenty countries aligned in the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) today released new data that pinpoint 587 single sites where 920 of the world's most endangered wildlife species are restricted – places that if properly protected could help to avert an imminent global extinction crisis.

The AZE data are accompanied by a map that graphically illustrates the location of each of the sites around the world. The new data result from the efforts of a network of hundreds of scientists and conservationists around the world.

WEBSITE: View the map of sites around the world on the AZE website.

"AZE enables us to instantly pinpoint the locations of the world's key wildlife extinction epicenters. It allows us to see at a glance where we need to focus efforts to prevent imminent extinctions and preserve Earth's precious biodiversity," said American Bird Conservancy Vice President and AZE Chair, Mike Parr.

At the present time, only half of the sites identified enjoy any formal protection, and of those, half are only partially protected. "Protecting the remaining unprotected AZE sites, through locally appropriate means, is an urgent strategic global biodiversity conservation priority" added Parr.

The new AZE data and map are being released in conjunction with the October 18-29 conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Nagoya, Japan which includes 193 of the world's governments. Together, these conservation tools represent a straightforward means for countries and international donors such as the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank to cost-effectively address the issue of imminent and predictable species loss, a central component of biodiversity conservation.

AZE was formed in 2000 to further efforts to prevent imminent species extinctions by identifying and safeguarding the places where species evaluated to be Endangered and Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) for inclusion on their Red List of Threatened Species, are restricted to single remaining sites. To date, AZE has identified sites for mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, conifers, and reef-building corals, providing a strategic tool to defend against many of the most predictable species losses. Country-based initiatives, representing partnerships of government agencies and non-government organizations, have been developed in Brazil and Colombia to accelerate the protection of AZE sites. Other countries, such as Mexico and Peru, are in the process of developing similar initiatives.

Protecting an AZE site can often prevent multiple extinctions, since some of these sites host more than one highly threatened species. Studies show that AZE sites are particularly important for providing ecological services too, so their protection brings an even wider range of benefits.

"Urgent action to safeguard these sites makes sense in so many ways," said Parr. "Decisions taken at the Nagoya meeting need to provide the momentum to make this happen."

The sites with the most AZE species are the Sierra de Juarez with 22 species, and Veracruz Volcanoes with 16 species, both in Mexico. Massif de la Hotte, Haiti is third with 15 species, followed by Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park, Colombia, with 12 species. Japan, the host nation for the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting this month, has six AZE sites; one of which, Yambaru, hosts five AZE species, including the Okinawa Rail and Okinawa Woodpecker. The countries with the most AZE sites are: Mexico (68), Colombia (46), Peru (34), Indonesia (31), Brazil (27), and China (23). Having a large number of sites does not necessarily reflect on a nation's environmental performance, however since a disproportionate wealth of biodiversity, such as that found in countries with a broad array of ecoregions in a small range, ultimately poses an extraordinary conservation challenge.

The new map provides an update to AZE's first global data set that was issued in 2005.

WEBSITE: The Alliance for Zero Extinction, including information about sites in each country

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For more information, please contact:

Press officers in Nagoya:

Kim McCabe
kmccabe@conservation.org
Tel: +1 202 203 9927

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
pmalentaqui@conservation.org
Tel: + 1 571 225 8345

In Washington, DC :

Matt Foster
Director of Conservation Outcomes
m.foster@conservation.org
Tel: +1 202 213-5097

 

 


Notes for Editors:

Conservation International (CI) - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI's goals and experts attending the CBD, visit: www.conservation.org/cbd