Copyright © 2009, United Nations Environment Programme

ISBN: 978-92-807-2987-0

UNEP/GC.25/INF/2

DEW/1121/NA



Disclaim...
Contents

Preface                                     ii   Disasters and Conflicts
Introduction                           ...
Preface

     The UNEP Year Book 2009, focusing on                 Reservoirs in the Mediterranean and the
     the six ar...
Introduction
      The UNEP Year Book 2009 presents work           gases in the atmosphere and new findings       calls fo...
Ecosystem Management
Earth’s ecosystems are under threat. Twenty per cent of Earth’s land cover has been significantly deg...
CHANGING ECOSYSTEMS                                       coastal aquaculture operations, and seagrass beds
      Box 1: A...
Non-linear changes and emerging ecosystems
                                                                               ...
vulnerability issues to the fore. Experts disagreed
    various states of vulnerability and resilience, they
             ...
Cycle of poverty and environmental degradation           principal source of income for over 90 per cent of
  Table 1: Bio...
NEW MANAGEMENT PARADIGMS                                 land-use mosaics could support biodiversity while
    delivers co...
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
UNEP Year Book 2009
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

UNEP Year Book 2009

12,495 views

Published on

Published in: News & Politics, Technology
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
12,495
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
17
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
164
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

UNEP Year Book 2009

  1. 1. Copyright © 2009, United Nations Environment Programme ISBN: 978-92-807-2987-0 UNEP/GC.25/INF/2 DEW/1121/NA Disclaimers The content and views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the contributory experts, organizations, or the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and neither do they imply any endorsement. The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, or city or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundaries. Mention of a commercial company or product in this publication does not imply the endorsement of UNEP. © Maps, photos, and illustrations as specified. Reproduction This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or non-profit purposes without special permission from the copyright holder, provided acknowledgement of the source is made. UNEP would appreciate receiving a copy of any publication that uses this publication as a source. No use of this publication may be made for resale or any other commercial purpose whatsoever without prior permission in writing from UNEP. Applications for such permission, with a statement of purpose and intent of the reproduction, should be ad- dressed to the Division of Communications and Public Information (DCPI), UNEP, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi 00100, Kenya. The use of information from this publication concerning proprietary products for publicity or advertising is not permitted. This publication was printed in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (environment) certified facilities using a water based coating, vegetable inks, and chlorine and acid free paper from recycled fibre and fibre certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Produced by Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) United Nations Environment Programme P.O. Box 30552 Nairobi, 00100, Kenya Tel: (+254) 20 7621234 Fax: (+254) 20 7623927 E-mail: uneppub@unep.org Web: www.unep.org UNEP Year Book web site: http://www.unep.org/geo/yearbook Editors: Catherine McMullen and Thomas Hayden Cover: Look Twice Design, Canada UNEP promotes environmentally sound Graphics, layout, and printing: Phoenix Design Aid, Denmark practices globally and in its own Distribution: SMI (Distribution Services) Ltd. UK activities. This publication is printed on chlorine and acid free paper from This publication is available from Earthprint.com http://www.earthprint.com recycled and certified fibre from sustainable forests. Our distribution policy aims to reduce UNEP’s carbon footprint.
  2. 2. Contents Preface ii Disasters and Conflicts Introduction iv Introduction 31 Disasters, Conflicts, and Environment—2008 32 Ecosystem Management Human Flaws and Disaster Prevention 35 Introduction 1 Great Expectations 38 Changing Ecosystems 2 Conclusion 39 Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing 4 Map of Significant Environmental Events 2008 40 New Management Paradigms 6 References 42 Conclusion 9 References 10 Resource Efficiency Introduction 43 Harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste Doing More, Wasting Less 44 Introduction 11 From Cradle to Grave 48 Dangerous Substances in Food and Drink 12 Water: Urgent Need for Better Systems 49 A History of Mercury Contamination 14 Constructive Progress 50 The Face of Nanotechnology 16 Conclusion 51 Challenges to a Nuclear Power Revival 18 References 52 Conclusion 19 References 20 Environmental Governance Introduction 53 Climate Change Achieving the Millennium Development Goals 54 Introduction 21 Calendar of Selected Events for 2008 56 Detection, Observation, Attribution 22 Re-Tooling 58 Sinks, Sources, and Feedbacks 25 Conclusion 61 Impacts and Vulnerabilities 27 References 63 Tipping Points 28 Conclusion 29 Acronyms and Abbreviations 63 References 30 Acknowledgements 64 iii
  3. 3. Preface The UNEP Year Book 2009, focusing on Reservoirs in the Mediterranean and the the six areas of our new Medium-Term American Midwest could soon run dry: the Strategy, comes against a back drop of Greenland ice sheet may already be losing food, fuel and financial upheavals that over 100 cubic kilometres a year with underline the choices facing humanity in ramifications for sea level rise. the 21st century. The Arctic is also a vast store of These centre around whether a brighter methane. More than 250 plumes are now and more sustainable future can be found bubbling up northwest of Svalbard—the in the old economic models of the 20th prospect of dangerous ‘tipping’ points in century or in a fresh, Green Economy the Earth’s climate are becoming ever more approach—one that rewards greater possible. resource efficiency, vastly improved The Year Book also highlights more natural asset management and decent intelligent, creative approaches. Take employment across the developed and biomimicry. The cooling system of the developing world. Eastgate Building in Harare, Zimbabwe The answer can be found in the findings was inspired by towers built by termites. It of the Year Book 2009. saves 90 per cent of the energy compared Ecosystems, vast natural ‘utilities’ whose with a comparable building. goods and services are worth trillions of Rights-based catch shares for fishers— Achim Steiner dollars annually, are also changing—entire practiced in fishing grounds in countries like United Nations Under-Secretary-General and forest ecosystems have disappeared from Canada and Chile to Mexico and the United Executive Director, 25 countries and have declined by 90 per States, there is evidence they can reduce United Nations Environment Programme cent in a further 29. and even reverse the risk of ecosystem The biomass of large, commercially- collapse. targeted marine fish species have Hundreds of billions of dollars are being declined by 90 per cent since the 1960s. lined up to stimulate economies. It is an The amount of cropland available per opportunity to overcome the current woes person may, by mid century, be less than but also an opportunity to begin shaping 0.1 hectares, requiring an increase in markets—shaping them towards favouring agricultural production unattainable via not only the planet but also the livelihoods conventional methods. and well-being of six, soon rising to nine Climate change is another poignant billion people. In short it is the chance to example. The failure to fully ‘internalize’ the really kick-start the Green Economy. costs of rising greenhouse gas emissions is triggering impacts unimaginable only a few years ago. ii UNEP YEAR BOOK 2009
  4. 4. Introduction The UNEP Year Book 2009 presents work gases in the atmosphere and new findings calls for an intensified sense of urgency in progress on scientific understanding on the rates and distribution patterns for responsible governance in the face of of global environmental change, as well of melting ice and rising sea levels. approaching critical thresholds and tipping as foresight about possible issues on the Potential consequences are considered points. A calendar of selected events in horizon. The aim is to raise awareness of for specific Earth systems such as ocean 2008 is also included in this chapter. the interlinkages among environmental circulation, tropical monsoons, and familiar More in-depth, the chapter identifies issues that can accelerate the rates of atmospheric oscillations. The concept of some of the drivers that create challenges, change and threaten human wellbeing. tipping elements and tipping points in Earth such as increasing populations, their The chapters of this Year Book track systems is introduced. material aspirations, and a flawed the same trajectory as our awareness of The disasters and conflicts chapter economic model that does not assign environmental change. Transformations documents civil unrest, earthquakes, appropriate values to many of the are inherent to this trajectory and are storms, and droughts that continue resources being exploited. These drivers taking place on many fronts: from industrial to stress human populations and the have cumulative effects and require agriculture to eco-agriculture; from a ecosystems they depend upon. In decisions to be made, often making the wasteful society towards a resource efficient particular, vulnerable populations are at practice of environmental governance both one; and from a triad of competing interests risk. Evidence is mounting, however, that challenging and complex. For example, among civil society, the private sector, and disaster prevention and preparedness pressures from population growth and governments to a more cooperative model programmes are working. The chapter also material aspirations draw workers to settle based on mutual benefits. contains a map of significant environmental near national parks where they may be The first chapter, ecosystem events of 2008. forced to destroy the protected ecosystem management, presents ecosystems Alternative industrial approaches are to survive, or these pressures motivate responding at accelerated rates to explored in the chapter on resource people to build livelihoods in coastal urban climatic, anthropogenic, and ecological efficiency. A significant transformation areas where they are exposed to threats changes and the critical thresholds that are is underway through new patterns of from increased intensity and frequency of advancing. It examines the call for an eco- production and consumption and improved storms. agricultural approach to food production resource-use efficiencies. Developing This Year Book also explores some and the potential that sustainability and up-scaling existing solutions from the of the many solutions such as effective principles offer to ensure that ecosystem private sector such as industrial symbiosis disaster preparedness programmes that management addresses poverty reduction. and dematerialization may help turn around can establish foundations for community The chapter on harmful substances the growing resource deficit. cooperation that could resonate through and hazardous waste follows the The final chapter, environmental future development projects. As well, discovery of synthesizing nitrogen to governance, gives a brief summary of key resource efficient industrial symbiosis its application for chemical fertilizers findings of the preceding chapters and applications can feed sustainable that spurred unprecedented population discusses the cumulative effects expected economic growth, forestall pollution, and growth and accelerated an era of large- from degradation of ecosystems, the provide goods for the green economy. scale industrial chemistry. Many of these release of substances harmful to those Re-tooled assessment processes and the chemicals are adversely affecting our ecosystems and to human health, the establishment of innovative schemes with environment and our health. consequences of our changing climate, multiple social and environmental benefits The climate change chapter draws the continued human and economic loss are only samples of solutions that can be attention to the latest research on resulting from disasters and conflicts, devised through institutional mechanisms increased concentrations of greenhouse and the overexploitation of resources. It and good governance. iv UNEP YEAR BOOK 2009
  5. 5. Ecosystem Management Earth’s ecosystems are under threat. Twenty per cent of Earth’s land cover has been significantly degraded by human activity and 6O per cent of the planet’s assessed ecosystems are now damaged or threatened. The irrefutable pattern is one of natural resource overexploitation while simultaneously creating more waste than ecosystems can process. A rich variety of plants and animals on the Hoang Lien Mountains give way to incredible montane landscapes and managed terrace fields in Sapa district, Lao Cai Province, northwest Vietnam. Source: Graham Ford INTRODUCTION and cascading effects of pressures we exert on be able to recover from further disturbance. ecosystems. These events further underscore the Science cannot yet predict the precise Ecosystems are, by definition, resilient and vulnerabilities inherent in the global community’s thresholds for each ecosystem, but our ability to adaptable to change—even to abrupt change. current doctrines of perpetual economic growth understand cumulative and non-linear change This makes the current worldwide collapse and demonstrate that conventional, highly has improved dramatically, offering new insights of ecosystem function all the more dramatic: compartmentalized ecosystem management into how far an ecosystem can be pushed before Human activities over the last 50 years have methods are not working. irreversible changes occur (Willis and others 2007). accelerated rates of change, and introduced In 2008, voices from all corners of society called Crucially, these advances clarify the numerous artificial connections and substances, to such an for dramatic change. Many endorsed significant links between long-term ecosystem health and extent that natural systems are losing their ability to long-term measures to incorporate the ecosystem human wellbeing. It has become clear that adjust. The stresses, including habitat destruction, approach for management of agriculture and ecosystem management, environmental services, species loss, pollution, and climate change, conservation, with a new focus on integrated and socio-economic development must all be combine to make ecological breakdown more management systems, in which the needs of considered together. widespread, more severe, and more likely (Homer- humans and the needs of nature are both taken In the face of climate change and mounting Dixon 2007). Worse, as multiple stresses unfold into account, for the benefit of each. water vulnerabilities, 2008’s unstable energy prices simultaneously, major ecosystems are reaching and food price crisis illustrate the global scope critical thresholds beyond which they will no longer EcosystEm managEmEnt 1
  6. 6. CHANGING ECOSYSTEMS coastal aquaculture operations, and seagrass beds Box 1: A red hot priority: The world’s have all experienced intense pollution, degradation, The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment mammals in crisis destruction, and overexploitation. The resulting reported a substantial and largely irreversible decline of aquatic ecosystems has essentially forced loss in the diversity of life on Earth, along with Of the 5487 recognized mammal species in the world, more the world’s marine fisheries into a state of stagnation the deterioration of more than 60 per cent of all than half are declining in numbers and more than 20 per cent are threatened with extinction, according to the Red List Index for nearly a decade (World Bank and FAO 2008). ecosystem services assessed (MA 2005) (Box 1). 2008. The Red List, an ongoing global inventory undertaken Since the onset of industrial fishing in the 1960s, The sobering reality inspired a surge in scientific by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the total biomass of large, commercially-targeted research and ideas. It prompted calls for a serious widely recognized as the best assessment of distribution and conservation status of Earth’s plant and animal species. marine fish species has declined by a staggering 90 rethinking of our management approaches, per cent (Halpern and others 2008, MA 2005). seeking methods that better deal with the While the exact threat is hard to quantify, the situation is worst for marine mammal species, with 36 per cent at The need for action on fisheries is urgent. Over mounting risks and challenges to ecosystems. risk of extinction from pollution, changing climate, and one billion people, many among the world’s most The stakes are high. If humans are to survive on encounters with fishing nets and cargo vessels. Since vulnerable, depend on fish as their primary source of this planet with a minimally acceptable, universal the last Red List Index assessment on mammal species protein. According to a 2008 study commissioned quality of life, we must manage and utilize our in 1996, scientists have documented 700 species not covered previously, including 349 new species by the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture ecological assets in far more efficient and creative discovered mostly in Madagascar and the Amazon. Organization (FAO), the exploitation and near ways (Steiner 2008). Scientists expect that more species have yet to be depletion of the ocean’s most valuable fish stocks discovered in regions such as the Congo Basin. Irrefutable evidence of degradation have caused an annual net loss in the value of Threatened mammals tend to concentrate in rich global marine fisheries in the order of US$50 billion. All ecosystems are undergoing change, but ecosystems with high occurrence of endemic species— The excessive build-up of redundant fishing fleet some transitions are more dramatic than others. ecosystems under extreme pressure from human activities. The most vulnerable areas include South and capacity, the deployment and mismanagement Certainly one of the most visible and significant Southeast Asia, the tropical Andes, the Cameroonian of increasingly powerful fishing technologies, and ecosystem changes is the widespread degradation Highlands, the Albertine Rift in Africa, and the Western increasing pollution and habitat loss are to blame and conversion of tropical and sub-tropical Ghats in India. Deforestation and agricultural expansion (World Bank and FAO 2008). ecosystems (Figure 1). Increasing demands for have left animals living on increasingly fragmented and smaller patches of land. Rising food prices, the impending energy crisis, food and other agricultural products has led to and increasing impacts of climate change all have the intensification of agricultural production and Meanwhile, protected areas may no longer offer a safe haven to species: The impact of tourism on the potential to put further pressure on marine the drastic expansion of land under cultivation local economies tends to attract settlement around ecosystems. The immediate and paramount need (Yadvinder and others 2008). Today, farmland conservation areas by people looking for employment. is to improve the resilience of those ecosystems, covers nearly a quarter of the planet’s surface. These communities then turn to timber harvesting, bush- through a series of institutional and regulatory Entire forest systems have effectively disappeared meat hunting, and land clearing by fires—all activities that ultimately lead to higher rates of species loss in the reforms. Recommendations for concerted national in at least 25 countries and have declined by 90 protected sectors. and international reforms are designed to increase per cent in another 29 countries (Dietz and Henry Source: Miller and others 2006, Schipper and others 2008, investment in and to empower poor small-scale 2008). This destruction continues at staggering Wittemyer and others 2008, IUCN 2008 fishing communities. These would include the rates. Such abrupt and comprehensive changes elimination of counterproductive subsidies and to ecosystems result in significant stress on perverse incentives, as well as supporting initiatives ecological processes and biogeochemical cycles, to certify sustainable fisheries and new measures to with further adverse implications for both regional eliminate illegal fishing (World Bank and FAO 2008). and global ecosystem services that derive directly from the health of basic ecological functions. This Shifting ecosystems knock-on effect through conversion of tropical and sub-tropical ecosystems leads to critical losses Recent studies have revealed migration and some in watershed protection, diminished soil integrity, expansion of certain ecosystem types as they increased erosion, disappearance of biodiversity, respond to changing climatic and biogeochemical decrease in carbon sequestration capacity, and conditions (Silva and others 2008). The conversion deterioration of regional and local air quality (Scherr of Arctic tundra to shrubland has been observed Severe habitat degradation, disease, and reduced water avail- and McNeely 2008, Hazell and Wood 2008). as temperatures rise during recent years. The ability have brought the Grevy’s zebra to near extinction with Less visible but just as significant human-induced process involves warmer winter temperatures 750 adult animals remaining in Kenya and Ethiopia. changes are underway in marine and coastal when a few shrubs can stabilize a snow layer, the Source: Jason Jabbour/ UNEP ecosystems. Coral reefs, intertidal zones, estuaries, snow layer insulates the soil, and the local soil 2 UNEP YEAR BOOK 2009
  7. 7. Non-linear changes and emerging ecosystems 80 % -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Figure 1: Per cent of available area converted by 2050 The70 80 % occurence frequency and accelerated rates at Mediterranean forests, woodland, and scrub -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Temperate forests, steppes, and woodland which environmental conditions are transforming 80 % -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Mediterranean forests, woodland, and scrub broadleaf and mixed forests Temperate 50 80 % -10 0 10 20 30 40 60 70 vegetated landscapes—and the unexpected Percentage of potential area of Temperate forests, steppes, and woodland and sub-tropical dry broadleaf forests Tropical ecosystems estimated to have Mediterranean forests, woodland, and scrub manner in which existing natural systems are Mediterranean forests, woodland, and scrub Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Flooded grasslands and savannas been and Tropical converted by 1950, con- Temperate forests, steppes, and woodland responding—raise important questions about Temperate forests, steppes, and woodland Tropical and sub-tropical dry broadleaf forests sub-tropical grasslands, savannas, Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Flooded grasslands and savannas verted between 1950 and 1990, and shrublands our understanding of ecosystem thresholds. Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests Tropical and sub-tropical coniferous forests Tropical and sub-tropical dry broadleaf forests and sub-tropical grasslands, savannas, have been converted and will Tropical and shrublands Deserts between 1990 and 2050 under What we are learning about accelerated, abrupt, Tropical and sub-tropical dry broadleaf forests Flooded grasslands and savannas Tropical and sub-tropical coniferous forests grasslands and shrublands Montane Millennium Ecosystem Assess- unexpected, and potentially irreversible ecosystem Tropical and sub-tropical grasslands, savannas, Flooded grasslands and savannas and shrublands Deserts ment scenarios. The vast majority Tropical and sub-tropical moist broadleaf forests Tropical and sub-tropical grasslands, savannas, changes leads to serious uncertainties about the Tropical and sub-tropical coniferous forests Montane grasslands and shrublands of conversions are for agricultural Temperate coniferous forests and shrublands Deserts future of those ecosystems, the consequences of Tropical and sub-tropical moist broadleafforests Boreal forests purposes. Tropical and sub-tropical coniferous forests Montane grasslands and shrublands Temperate coniferous forests Tundra our interventions, and the implications for human Source: Millennium Ecosystem Deserts Tropical and sub-tropical moist broadleaf forests 80 % Boreal forests -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Assessment wellbeing. Temperate coniferous forests Tundra Montane grasslands and shrublands 60 Such evidence has prompted a renewed Boreal forests 80 % -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 70 Tropical and sub-tropical moist broadleaf forests Tundra investment in monitoring and early warning 80 % Temperate coniferous forests -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Loss between 1950 and 1990 Projected loss by 2050 Loss by 1950 systems, and highlights the value of alternative Boreal forests Projectedmanagement options. Already these investigations Loss between 1950 and 1990 loss by 2050 Loss by 1950 Tundra have expanded our ability to explain and predict 1950 80 % 50 between 70 and 1990 Loss 60 Projected loss by 2050 -10 0 Loss by 1950 10 20 30 40 some of the drivers and positive feedback mechanisms that influence non-linear ecosystem Scientists had long thought that the boundaries change (Dakos and others 2008, Scheffer and microbes that remain active for longer periods under the warmer conditions produce the nutrients between savannas and gallery forests, two distinct others 2006, Lenton and others 2008, Tallis and the shrubs1950 to thrive. This process 1950 and 1990 Loss between and separate by 2050 Projected loss Loss by ecosystems, were effectively fixed due others 2008). need fosters to sharp contrasts in soil properties such as water Observations of non-linear changes and the colonization of tundra by more shrubs (Strum content, nutrients, aeration, and acidity (Furley 1992, expectation of their increasing occurrence have and others 2005). The resulting ecosystem shift Beerling and Osborne 2006). In 2008, new evidence encouraged concepts of emerging ecosystems. has forced caribou populations out of traditional from central Brazil revealed a surprising migration These are assemblages of species within a given grazing areas in search of the lichens and grasses of gallery forests into surrounding savanna regions. ecosystem that are documented in previously normally found on tundra (Tape and others 2006). It appears that climatic changes can initiate such unrecognized combinations and abundances In 2008 new evidence showed that while warmer ecosystem migration and that subsequent feedback under new ecological conditions (Milton 2003, Arctic temperatures encourage earlier availability mechanisms including nutrient accumulation and fire Seastedt and others 2008, Silva and others 2008). of caribou grazing resources, caribou reproductive suppression may push the expansion process further The emerging ecosystems concept borrows cycles are not advancing with resource availability. still (Figure 2) (Silva and others 2008). from the idea that as ecosystems pass through This has significant repercussions on caribou reproductive success (Post and others 2008). Figure 2: Vegetative regions and ecological transitions in Brazil In the northern Ural Mountains of Russia, the warming summer climate and the doubling of Map of Brazil showing major vegetative regions and areas of winter precipitation have altered the composition, ecological transition. Complex factors associated with changing structure, and growth forms of Siberian larch (Devi climate and subsequent soil, moisture, and nutrient conditions and others 2008). As mature forests, these 10-20 have given to an increase in these ecological transition regions metre conifers typically grow in a mix of single- and and the expansion of certain vegetative biomes including gallery forests into savannas. multi-stemmed tree clusters. But a recent study found that 90 per cent of trees emerging after Vegetation class 1950 were single-stemmed, a characteristic of less Other vegetation Woodland savanna (Cerrado) mature forests. The researchers concluded that Amazon / Atlantic forest Shrubland (Caatinga) this tree generation largely reflects the expansion Ecological transitions Water in both space and time of a new forest. This forest- tundra ecosystem may already have advanced Source: Màrton Bàlint and Jason Jabbour/ UNEP; adapted from Heckenberger as far as 20 to 60 metres up the mountains in the 0 250 500 1 000 and others 2008, Silva and others 2008 Kilometres past century (Devi and others 2008). EcosystEm managEmEnt 3
  8. 8. vulnerability issues to the fore. Experts disagreed various states of vulnerability and resilience, they over the extent to which biofuel production evolve—adapting to disturbances differently, and contributed to these price increases, with perhaps restructuring themselves as a function of both the highest estimate of 75 per cent responsibility the state of the system and the spatial scale at attributed to a combination of diversion of grains which the disturbance occurs. Accelerated rates of into biofuels, farmers setting aside land for energy change from human-induced forces have pushed crops, and financial speculation (Chakrabortty some ecosystems towards extinction. But these 2008). Others saw a less clear relationship forces have also propelled some ecosystems between biofuels and food prices, contending past their historical range of variability into states that biofuels may actually be able to reduce local that are relatively stable despite being new (Sax food shortages and raise the incomes of the and Gains 2008). As emerging ecosystems and world’s most impoverished—if proper policies their enabling conditions evolve, management A shrimp farmer in Apalachicola, Florida, USA, describes the drastic are implemented (Müller and others 2008). approaches must be able to analyse the costs decline of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and the increasing challenges that fishers face. Looking beyond a direct trade-off between food incurred and benefits offered. Study of the current Source: Tara Thompson and energy, another perspective sees land use state of ecosystem functioning is essential, but less advantageous elements, while tracking the management as the lens for assessing the linked management of dynamic systems must also processes and persistence of both benefits and implications of biofuels, biodiversity, ecosystem focus on likely trajectories or predictions of future costs (Hobbs and others 2008). integrity, and food. changes to anticipate opportunities for disaster Approaches such as smallholder production prevention. Emerging ecosystems require novel for local consumption stand in contrast to the management approaches, including a more ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN WELLBEING dominant model of large-scale agribusiness biofuel deliberate collaboration between scientists and production. As well, such approaches represent an managers in developing methods and measures Healthy ecosystems, and the goods and services important ongoing experiment within the broader for achieving short- and long-term objectives they provide, are the foundations of survival for all effort to promote rural energy self-sufficiency, (Seastedt and others 2008). societies. Given current consumption levels in the livelihood opportunities, and environmental integrity In the United States of America’s Yellowstone industrialized world and the rapidly accelerating in the developing world. National Park, new insights on the cascading material aspirations in developing countries, Using an eco-agriculture approach, smallholders ecological changes occurring in a warmer park those foundations are threatened. The problems producing biodiesel or vegetable oil for local use have prompted managers and scientists to rethink associated with environmental degradation and can achieve conservation benefits including crop traditional assumptions and strategies. An invasive agricultural growth alone will incur substantial diversity and restoration of degraded land (Milder thistle species, long established in North America, costs to future generations in the form of threats and others 2008). This strategy has the potential to was initially thought to be thriving in the park to human and ecosystem health (Hazell and enhance local energy security, increase household because of changing climate. Researchers recently Wood 2008, Levin and others 2008, RRI 2008). incomes, and generate new economic opportunities discovered the thistle’s success is part of a larger Externalities of climate change and economic that rely on a small but steady energy supply (Ejigu feedback loop in which a simultaneous expansion globalization are accelerating the approach 2008). Such small-scale biofuel projects are now of pocket gophers has helped the plant spread. of critical thresholds for already threatened underway in several countries. The gophers create ideal growing conditions for ecosystem health at local and global scales. The Large, monoculture plantations invite their thistle food source by churning surface soil as potential for catastrophic mistakes grows. environmental damages related to intensive they tunnel. More thistles feed more gophers and, The prospects for biofuels chemical use, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, at the same time, grizzly bear populations have wildlife displacement, and water consumption stabilized due to an ample supply of both (Robbins It is difficult to think of an environmental issue that (Table 1). They can also have significant social 2008). Consequently, park efforts to control the attracted more controversy in 2008 than biofuels. repercussions in terms of livelihoods and human thistle have been significantly reduced. Sweeping rhetoric has both championed biofuels rights. In places where the land tenure situation Should an emerging ecosystem persist, it as a renewable, low-carbon energy solution is insecure or contested, an increase in biofuel could offer new valuable ecosystem products and condemned their production as a threat to production can cause poorer groups to lose crucial and services. The extent that these new systems human and environmental wellbeing. For many, access to land (Cotula and others 2008). Still, can contribute to future diversity, renewal, and the juxtaposition of ‘food versus fuel’ captures the many developing countries see an opportunity for resilience will require careful research. A key central tension of the biofuel industry. economic development in the growing international goal for the future of ecosystem management Dramatic increases in grain prices throughout biofuel trade. is to maximize beneficial changes and reduce much of 2008 brought food security and 4 UNEP YEAR BOOK 2009
  9. 9. Cycle of poverty and environmental degradation principal source of income for over 90 per cent of Table 1: Biofuels and water projections for 2030 people (UN 2008). As a function of these critical Environmental degradation has created uncertainty Irrigated Percentage dependencies, impoverished regions and rural and risk across the globe. Yet the greatest burden Biofuel water of irrigation production needed (km3) water used indigenous communities have consistently suffered continues to fall on the most impoverished (billion litres) Crop for biofuels on biofuels disproportionately from degradation and changing regions, and on marginalized and indigenous US/Canada 51.3 Maize 36.8 20 climatic and ecosystem conditions. communities (Levin and others 2008). If current Brazil 34.5 Sugarcane 2.5 8 The proportion of rural people in poverty trends persist, the disruptive effects of climate EU 23.0 Rapeseed 0.5 1 rises markedly in locations that are marginal for and ecosystem change will continue to impair China 17.7 Maize 35.1 7 agricultural productivity, remote from services, and the wellbeing of at least 2 billion of the world’s India 9.1 Sugarcane 29.1 5 prone to natural disasters. Under these conditions, human population and to diminish their prospects South Africa 1.8 Sugarcane 5.1 30 people are often compelled to over-exploit for a better future (See Climate Change, Chapter Indonesia 0.8 Sugarcane 3.9 7 adjacent resources to survive (Hazell and Wood Three) (WRI 2008). And yet, attempts to mitigate Sources: Molden 2008, Serageldin and Masood 2008 2008). The UN Food and Agriculture Organization the current global economic downturn have cost estimates that 7.8 million hectares of forest are considerably more than the amounts allocated for Research attempts to analyse the full costs lost each year to subsistence hillside farming and official development assistance (See Environmental and benefits of various biofuel production shifting cultivation as a result of declining yields Governance, Chapter Six) (Ban 2008). processes, including the implications of large on traditional agricultural land (FAO 2008, FAO Poverty and the environment are inextricably scale land-use change, predict the loss of stored 2008b). Pressures exerted through low-productivity linked. It is well accepted that ecosystem carbon, and raise the possibility of biofuels as a agricultural practices, overgrazing, slash and burn degradation and natural resource depletion are net contributor to climate change (Fargione and activities, soil-mining, deforestation, and expansion exacerbated by socio-demographic factors, others 2008). A new study using a worldwide into forested areas threaten not only the ecological particularly when combined with poverty (WRI agricultural model to estimate emissions from balances of an increasingly fragile natural resource 2008, UN 2008). The co-incidence of rapid land-use change reveals that corn-based ethanol base, but also livelihoods and wellbeing of the population growth and environmental degradation would increase greenhouse gas emissions by communities that depend on these ecosystems. has emphasized the importance of understanding nearly 100 per cent over 30 years and would The result is a negative feedback loop, in which the complex linkages among societies, ecosystems, continue emitting for 167 years (Searchinger and poverty contributes to ecosystem degradation and governance. While the overall changes others 2008). As initial enthusiasm over biofuels and ecosystem degradation contributes to the that humans have made to ecosystems have is tempered by concerns about the social and perpetuation and intensification of poverty (Wade contributed to substantial overall benefits in human environmental trade-offs in places where energy and others 2008). wellbeing and economic development, these gains crops would be grown, several governments with are not equitably distributed: They have come at the fuel-blending mandates have recently revisited Mainstreaming ecosystem management into serious and growing cost of displaced degradation, their targets or considered adding conditions poverty reduction increased risks of non-linear changes, and related to sustainable sourcing. exacerbation of poverty among the most vulnerable The development of a global standard Ecosystem approaches to alleviating poverty have populations (Holden and others 2006, WRI 2008, outlining sustainability principles and decision received substantial attention in recent years. Hazell and Wood 2008). making criteria will be an important step towards Integrating environmental issues and ecosystem For most people in developing countries, appropriate policy decisions when applied in management with poverty reduction strategies especially those living in rural areas, functioning combination with enhanced bioenergy mapping has become central to sustainable development natural environments form an essential part of their tools and an understanding of local preconditions programmes (UNDP 2007, WRI 2008, Svadlenak- livelihood strategies. A balanced relationship between and needs. Small-scale biofuel projects designed Gomez and others 2007). Given the huge disparity people and functioning ecosystems is crucial when to promote rural energy self-sufficiency in the between average incomes and those of the addressing sustainable ecosystem management and developing world pose a creative challenge to rural poor, as well as the important relationships poverty reduction (IAASTD 2008, WWF 2008, UNEP the dominant scenario of biofuels for international these populations have with the land and natural 2007). Nature-based income routinely accounts for transport needs (UN-Energy 2007). Whether ecosystems, development strategies stand little more than half of the total income stream for the these efforts will translate into an effective chance of success if they do not take into account world’s rural poor (WRI 2008). Reliable estimates strategy for meeting rural energy needs while the circumstances, knowledge, capabilities, and suggest that 90 per cent of the rural poor depend enhancing livelihoods and ecosystem integrity will environmental needs of the rural poor. on forests for at least a portion of their income (WRI remain an important question in the months and With a deliberate shift to a strong governance 2005). In rural Africa, small-scale agriculture, the years to come. regime, ecosystem management could become a backbone of developing country economies, is the powerful model for nature-based enterprise that EcosystEm managEmEnt 5
  10. 10. NEW MANAGEMENT PARADIGMS land-use mosaics could support biodiversity while delivers continuing economic and social benefits meeting increasing demands for wider ecosystem to the poor as it improves the natural resource Ecosystem management practices continue services and achieving critical goals of agricultural base, and that sustains those ecosystems as they to evolve as new science emerges, leading sustainability (Scherr and McNeely 2008). By provide essential services at regional and global to re-consideration of fundamental principles, treating food production as just one of many scales (WRI 2008). So far, the poorest and most values, and the specific nature of management possible ecosystem services, eco-agriculture in a vulnerable segments of society lack the necessary interventions. The underlying problem is ultimately sense encourages landholders to cultivate clean means and empowerment to utilize nature-based quite simple: Management approaches that do air, sweet water, rich soil, and biological diversity, enterprise to improve their wellbeing. Even where not respond to, and adapt faster than, changing as well as food (Box 2). resources are abundant, revenues are often ecosystems will invariably fail—as will the societies Forms of eco-agriculture have been practiced appropriated by elites, leaving rural communities that are content with such mismanagement. in the past and at impressive scales: Terra Preta and their local ecosystems worse off (Gardiner While the challenge is daunting, new advances soils of central Amazonia exhibit approximately 2008, FAO 2007). offer hope. The closer we come to achieving an three times more soil organic matter, nitrogen, Development in poor rural communities requires accurate, holistic picture of the distribution of and phosphorus and 70 times more charcoal innovative strategies and processes that promote the ecosystem costs, benefits, and trade-offs of compared to adjacent soils. The Terra Preta local interests while building local capacity. Meeting our actions, the better positioned we will be to soils were generated by pre-Columbian native such challenges was inherent in the Millennium formulate responses. populations by adding large amounts of charred Development Goals. But momentum towards Degradation, conservation, and productivity residues, organic wastes, excrement, and those goals is faltering. bones. Large-scale generation and utilization of The need for action is urgent. We face a global Over the next four decades the amount of available Terra Preta soils would decrease the pressure economic crisis and a food security crisis, both cropland per person is projected to drop to on primary forests that are currently extensively of uncertain magnitude and duration. In the less than 0.1 hectares, due to biological limits, cleared for agricultural use. This would maintain meantime, climate change has become more requiring an increase in agricultural production biodiversity while mitigating both land degradation apparent—usually in the background but more that is unattainable through conventional means and climate change and, if done properly, can frequently as a phenomenon that cannot be (Montgomery 2008). A sense of urgency has been alleviate waste and sanitation problems in some ignored. These developments will directly affect our growing, in response to the universal decline of soil communities (Glaser 2007). efforts to reduce poverty: The economic slowdown quality that results from various systems of intensive will diminish the incomes of the poor; the food agriculture.The problem of soil degradation, which Scaling up financial incentives crisis will increase the number of hungry people in has affected all but 16 per cent of the world’s the world and push millions more into poverty; and croplands, presents serious implications for The Fourth Global Environment Outlook Report climate change will have a disproportionate impact agricultural productivity and broader ecosystem called attention to the critical role the environment on the poor. The need to address these concerns, services, including biodiversity (Hazell and Wood can play in enabling development and human pressing as they are, must not be allowed to 2008). wellbeing. It also rendered a compelling argument detract from our long-term efforts to achieve the An emerging body of scientific research focuses that Earth’s ecosystems and the goods and Millennium Development Goals (UNDESA 2008). on spatially integrated management approaches to services they provide offer tremendous economic agriculture. This would involve a move away from opportunities valued at trillions of dollars (UNEP the conventional model of land-use segregation, 2007). This conclusion reinforces the growing in which some areas are dedicated wholesale to movement to incorporate inventories of our food production, while others are set aside for natural capital and nature-based assets into conservation or other uses (Scherr and McNeely, our efforts to develop and execute ecosystem Holden and others 2008). For decades, biodiversity management. conservation and agricultural productivity were In recent years, interest in and scientific research thought to be incompatible and mutually exclusive on the assessment of ecosystem services, pursuits. But practitioners of eco-agriculture particularly biophysical valuation, has grown challenge these notions. Their approach transforms markedly (Cowling 2008). Valuation of ecosystem large-scale, high-input monoculture plantations services has created a basis for innovative at the farm level to a more diverse, low-input, and financial interventions and economic incentives as integrated system at the landscape level. powerful instruments that can help regulate the Given the necessary management, policy, and use of ecosystem goods and services and even Women agricultural workers harvesting tea leaves at a tea plantation governance structures, these new eco-agricutural redistribute benefit flows. in West Java, Indonesia. Source: M. Edwards/ Still Pictures 6 UNEP YEAR BOOK 2009

×