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National biodiversity legislation and planning are failing biodiversity and need strengthening

Juan Fernandez Firecrown, © Kevin D. Mack

As part of implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 140 countries had produced National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) by 2007. However, a BirdLife analysis suggests that only a minority of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans adequately address the conservation of globally threatened birds and Important Bird Areas. As an International Thematic Focal Point for the Clearing House Mechanism of the CBD, BirdLife aims to make scientifically sound information on bird species available for the better development and more effective implementation of NBSAPs.


Proportion of how well National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plans cover globally threatened bird species (GTBs) and Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

Few countries have yet mainstreamed biodiversity conservation into their legislation and policy, and made provision for raising the money needed for long-term investment. Many still retain a range of financial incentives that incidentally act to destroy biodiversity, rather than look after it (Myers and Kent 2001). So, for example, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy soaks up €45 billion of taxpayers’ money each year, yet has the side-effect of devastating countryside biodiversity, as shown by declines in farmland bird populations. There is experience of alternative approaches to draw on, for example in Costa Rica, where taxes on fuel, hydrological services and provision of biodiversity and scenic beauty have been used to invest in the retention and management of natural forests (Castro et al. 1980, Chomitz et al. 1999).

As part of implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 140 countries had produced National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) by 2007. However, these rarely demonstrate how biodiversity conservation will be integrated into broader land-use and economic decisions. Their technical content is also patchy. A BirdLife analysis suggests that only a minority of NBSAPS adequately address the conservation of globally threatened birds and Important Bird Areas (IBAs). This study looked at 25 NBSAPs from around the world, focusing on the countries with the highest importance for threatened birds in Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe, Middle East/Central Asia and the Pacific and with completed and available NBSAPs (see figure). Forty two percent of the NBSAPs analysed gave high priority to bird species conservation, through the development of Species Action Plans and recognition of international agreements (e.g. CITES and CMS) or regional treaties. In many cases, the NBSAPs recognise the importance of the country concerned for threatened species but do not propose a clear strategy and effective actions for their conservation. However, only 29% of the NBSAPs analysed lend strong support to the conservation and sustainable use of IBAs, by developing protected-area networks and identifying gaps in protected-area coverage. Often, the protected areas include Ramsar-listed wetland sites.

In general, the better and more accessible the national information on species and sites, the better the coverage in NBSAPs and the tools developed to safeguard a country’s biodiversity. As an International Thematic Focal Point for the Clearing House Mechanism of the CBD, BirdLife aims to make scientifically sound information on bird species available for the better development and more effective implementation of NBSAPs.



Links

References

Castro, R., Tattenbach, F., Gamez, L. and Olson,N. (1980) The Costa Rican experience with market instruments to mitigate climate change and conserve biodiversity. San Jose Costa Rica: Fundecor & MINAE.
 
Chomitz, K. M., Brenes, E. and Constantino, L. (1999) Financing environmental services: the Costa Rican experience and its implications. Sci. Total Environ. 240: 157–169.
 
Myers, N. and Kent, J. (2001) Perverse subsidies: how tax dollars can undercut the environment and the economy. Washington DC: Island Press.

Compiled 2004, updated 2008

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2008) National biodiversity legislation and planning are failing biodiversity and need strengthening . Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/197. Checked: 23/08/2014