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The World Biodiversity Forum Opens in Davos Amid Unprecedented Crisis in Nature

How does light pollution affect insects and nocturnal animals? Can remote sensoring track chlorophyll, essential for plant photosynthesis, in forest canopies? Did you know that abattoirs are providing the last refuges for vultures in parts of Nigeria?

The World Biodiversity Forum, running in Davos, Switzerland, this week is nothing if not eclectic. As well it should be, given that the rich, incalculable diversity of our world is under existential threat from climate change, land exploitation and industrialisation.

It is not just a matter of protecting the orangutans from encroaching palm-oil plantations (although that, of course, is part of it). Studying also means understanding what changes are taking place whether we like it or not.

In one presentation at the Forum, for example, it was noted that the Arctic is likely to become green as the ice melts, meaning a change in the animals that can live there. Any mild upside from this, however, is easily overwhelmed by the dangers to current human, animal and plant survival in the region.

The Forum, which has attracted some 500 participants from across the world, is supported by a number of organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme. It is linked to the Convention of Biodiversity which is seeking to set global targets for biodiversity similar to those that already exist for greenhouse gas emissions.

At an opening session, Sandra Diaz from Argentina’s National University of Cordoba, was blunt.

There is a deep, extensive reconfiguration of life on Earth under way, she said. Science, both social and natural, are pointing to an unprecedented crisis in nature.

This week’s Forum, tucked beneath breath-taking mountains that are a constant reminder of Earth’s beauty, is set to examine multiple aspects of the crisis.

Check out other blog entries on the theme.

Jeremy Gaunt will be writing about the World Biodiversity Forum this week for Future Earth.