Stuttering progress at UN biodiversity gathering

plant talkAs species decline at an alarming rate the biggest ever United Nations conference held to tackle biodiversity loss closed with opinions divided on the future of our planet's wildlife.

The 7,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered in Bonn for 12 days and needed to unite to achieve significant progress to turn round the rate of biodiversity loss worldwide.

WWF published a report at the start of the conference that showed a drop in species populations of about 30% over the past 30 years. The slow pace of negotiations and the lack of ambition have led to an unsatisfactory outcome for many environmetalists.

Progress was made on deep sea nature reserve and agreements to increase protected lands, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil, by hundreds of millions of hectares.

The German government pledged 500 million euros for forest protection and over 60 countries committed to supporting the WWF initiative for zero net deforestation by 2020. WWF believe this policy should be officially adopted by the CBD.

Other agreed steps included a ban on plankton growth experiment s to slow climate change, because of the potential risks to other animals, and the delegates also pledged to set global standards for developing biofuels, that have been blamed for contributing to deforestation, by 2010.

However, in comparison to the rapid acceleration of the problems, progress was much slower in other areas. The failure to adopt clear targets and timelines on issues as wide-ranging as financing and rainforest biodiversity are worrying the environment community. And key issues such as illegal logging or restricting the use of genetically modified trees were not tackled at all.

Ralf Hogan, WWF International's CBD manager said: "It was vital that representatives of governments who came to Bonn to find solutions to our world's shocking loss of biodiversity actually did what they came here to do. The whole world needs agreement and action so we can get back on track towards achieving our 2010 target."