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NCSE calls for “Creating a Ten-Year Global, Integrative, Multi-Dimensional Biodiversity Initiative”

March 28, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

From the National Council for Science and the Environment.

A new Multi-dimensional Research Program for Global Biodiversity is needed, according to the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), The need for a decadal initiative is described in a new report “Creating a Ten-Year Global, Integrative, Multi-Dimensional Biodiversity Initiative” from NCSE and its partners the Encyclopedia of Life of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Committee on DIVERSITAS of US National Academy of Sciences.  The groups held an international workshop “Enabling Biodiversity Research: the Roles of Information and Support Networks” that brought together the leading biodiversity research-enabling institutions in based on a December 2009.

We conclude that the community of museums, databases and information systems, and other institutions that support biodiversity research is not sufficiently funded, organized nor large enough to meet the challenges of understanding biodiversity in time to avoid catastrophic losses of life’s richness. It is likely that much of life on Earth will vanish before it can be characterized, let alone understood. Vast storehouses of resources and the knowledge of those resources are endangered.

The world is experiencing unprecedented and accelerating losses of species, ecosystems and genetic resources (biodiversity). This situation has perilous consequences for humanity, which depends on life’s richness and variety for our very existence. Global trends of population growth, climatic disruption and unsustainable economic activity are driving major losses of irretrievable knowledge and resources.  A new generation of ‘multi-dimensional’ research is needed to understand the relationships and processes that link genes, gene expression, development, physiology, population and community ecology, speciation, ecosystem functioning, and other dimensions of biodiversity.

The coming decades will challenge research communities and the research infrastructures they have built to grow across the traditional boundaries that have separated them.  Although the biodiversity research-enabling community contains many dedicated individuals and excellent institutions, there is a serious scarcity of biodiversity researchers and supporting organizations, especially in the tropics, which contain the vast majority of biodiversity.

Research infrastructures, especially reference collections and databases, need to expand their missions and programs of work.  In addition to providing access to comprehensive resources on one dimension of biodiversity (such as genetics), institutions will need to develop ways for researchers to navigate from the information sources they usually use into other dimensions, to support a new generation of research.  The community of researchers and supporting organizations around the world recognize the imperative to band together to enable and undertake a Multi-dimensional Research Program for Global Biodiversity.  The International Decade of Biodiversity (2011-2020) recently announced by the UN General Assembly is an ideal opportunity to carry out this collaborative program.

The report, a compendium that characterizes the various institutions enabling biodiversity research compiled by Terri Killleffer of Information International Associates and related background material about biodiversity and biodiversity science can be found at our new website: BIODIVERSITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD at www.NCSEonline.org/biodiversity .  The website brings together reports, presentations and background materials related to NCSE’s ongoing efforts to advance science and public understanding of the rapid and catastrophic loss of biodiversity and Life on Earth. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0970022.

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NCSE WEBSITE: BIODIVERSITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) invites you to view our new website: BIODIVERSITY IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD at www.NCSEonline.org/biodiversity .  The website brings together reports, presentations and background materials related to NCSE’s ongoing efforts to advance science and public understanding of the rapid and catastrophic loss of biodiversity and Life on Earth. The United Nations recently declared 2011-2020 as the International Decade of Biodiversity.

The website includes:

Creating a Ten-Year Global, Integrative, Multi-Dimensional Biodiversity Initiative” from the December 2009 international workshop “Enabling Biodiversity Research: the Roles of Information and Support Networks” organized by NCSE, the Encyclopedia of Life of the Smithsonian Institution and the Committee on DIVERSITAS of US National Academy of Sciences. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. 0970022.

Information about NSF’s Dimensions of Biodiversity Initiative, including the current program announcement (proposals due March 28), and a background presentation.

A link to the website for NCSE’s 9th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World (December 2008), http://ncseonline.org/conference/biodiversity/ including conference recommendations, presentations, and background material.

A PDF version of the amazing conversation among NCSE’s 2008 Lifetime Achievement Awardees: George Rabb, Peter Raven, and E.O. Wilson, moderated by Rita Colwell and a transcript of the posthumous Congressional Leadership Award to James H. Scheuer.

Presentations from the symposium “Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World: Science-Based Strategy for the 21st Century” organized by NCSE at the 2009 AAAS meeting.

Presentations from the symposium, “The ABCs of Agriculture, Biodiversity, and Climate Change” organized by NCSE at the American Institute of Biological Sciences’ (AIBS) May 2009 meeting.

The “Top 40 priorities for science to inform conservation and management policy in the United States” generated by a stakeholder process and decision maker consultation, co-organized by NCSE held in 2009-2010. The report on these priorities will be published in BioScience in April 2011.

Links to the websites for the UN Decade of Biodiversity (2011-2020), International Year of Biodiversity (2010) and the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) -the US is one of the few nations not to have ratified it.

NCSE’s Linkedin group Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World.  We invite you to join the group!


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