‘Conserving ecosystems of world’s nature-rich nations would save planet’ | Lifestyle News

‘Conserving ecosystems of world’s nature-rich nations would save planet’ | Lifestyle News

MONTREAL: Protecting ecosystems like the tangled expanses of the Amazon rainforest, the towering mountains of the Himalayas and the cloud-shrouded forests in the world’s most natural countries could help save the planet, experts say.

Governments are trying to hammer out a new global deal to guide wildlife conservation by 2030 at a UN summit in Montreal this week. Of the nearly 200 countries gathered, five are among the most biodiverse nations in the world in terms of the number of unique species.

Brazil, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Colombia boast more than 131,000 species of plants, about 6,000 birds and nearly 3,000 mammals, according to data compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, BirdLife International and the United Nations Environment Program. That’s more than a third of all flowering plants in the world and more than half of all bird and mammal species on earth.

Still, that’s not necessarily enough to get them special treatment in the talks, experts said, which are run on a consensus basis, meaning all parties must agree.

“Biodiversity is important in every country, so we don’t want to say that Brazil’s biodiversity is worth more than, say, Mongolia,” said Alfred DeGemmis, international policy expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“However, it is necessary to listen to the countries that will have a significant responsibility in terms of biodiversity in the financial area,” he said, noting that countries with a lot of nature are the ones who have to implement each new agreement.

Here’s what some of the world’s richest nations want to achieve at the talks.


About 60% of the world’s largest rainforest – the Amazon – lies within Brazil’s borders and is home to unique and charismatic creatures such as the giant anteater, two-toed sloth and poison dart frog.

Around half of the entire Amazon basin is currently under protection, and Brazil has lobbied for funding at UN talks to keep it that way.

Developing countries are calling for the establishment of a fund to support their conservation efforts, with $100 billion a year or 1% of global GDP flowing from wealthy nations to developing countries by 2030.

Any deal “must be accompanied by the approval of a suitably robust resource mobilization package,” the Brazilian delegation said during a December 10 meeting.

Brazil has more than a third of its land under some level of protection, but has yet to formally endorse a global pact to protect 30% of its land and seas by 2030, known as 30-by-30.


China holds the presidency of this year’s summit, and the talks were originally scheduled to take place in Kunming — a city in Yunnan province with towering karst cliffs and deep mountain gorges.

As the president of the negotiations, China must strike a balance and find an agreement between all parties if they want a successful outcome.

“Because, frankly, they’re president, they want to … refrain from being too loud a little bit [finance] issues,” said Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide.

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the establishment of a $237.47 million fund to support conservation in developing countries.

China has designated 25% of its land as “ecological sanctuaries”. But it hasn’t yet supported 30-by-30.


Scientists are still mapping the full extent of Colombia’s biodiversity after decades of civil wars closed much of the country’s jungle to field research.

Since a 2016 peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), scientists have discovered many new plant species in the country’s forests.

Colombia is arguably the most ambitious and biodiverse nation at the talks. The government supports the 30 by 30 target and is a strong advocate for the inclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities in the final agreement.

“The least we can do — the minimum for species survival — is to protect at least 30%, based on scientific evidence,” Colombia’s Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Susana Muhamad said during a meeting on Friday. “It should be 50%.”


This North American country offers a varied landscape ranging from arid desert to mangrove swamps to cloud forest and jungle.

The Mexican delegation has taken a fairly progressive approach to the talks, supporting the 30 by 30 target with around 15% of the country currently protected. Negotiators say they also want to see numerical targets for phasing out pesticides – a divisive goal that has been pushed back by Brazil and China.

However, Mexico was less interested in reducing the consumption footprint.


This forest nation, an archipelago of more than 10,000 islands, has made a fortune off palm oil — often at the expense of the country’s endangered orangutans, scientists say.

Habitat destruction from oil palm plantations, deforestation and mining, and hunting halved the orangutan population on the island of Borneo — which is sandwiched between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei — from 1999 to 2018, according to a 2018 study in the journal Current Biology 2015

But Indonesia has so far been relatively uninvolved in the talks, observers told Reuters.

The country has announced that it will protect around 10% of its territorial waters by the end of this decade, and it is the only major forest nation where deforestation is currently declining.

“Indonesia supports voluntary commitments with appropriate flexibility based on national circumstances,” Indonesian Deputy Environment and Forest Minister Alue Dohong said at talks on Friday.

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