Mountain biodiversity tops Montreal meet agenda

The entire gamut of activities that threaten ecosystems in the mountain regions dominated discussions at the meeting of the scientific advisory body to the Convention on Biological Diversity: from habitat fragmentation, poaching and wildlife trade in the Himalayan belt to grazing pressure, encroachment and fuelwood demand in the Western Ghats. The eighth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice was held from March 10-14, 2003, in Montreal, Canada. Based on its assessments, enabled by reports submitted by member countries, the SBSTTA proposed a work programme with specific goals and actions

 
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

the entire gamut of activities that threaten ecosystems in the mountain regions dominated discussions at the meeting of the scientific advisory body to the Convention on Biological Diversity (cbd): from habitat fragmentation, poaching and wildlife trade in the Himalayan belt to grazing pressure, encroachment and fuelwood demand in the Western Ghats.

The eighth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (sbstta) was held from March 10-14, 2003, in Montreal, Canada. Based on its assessments, enabled by reports submitted by member countries, the sbstta proposed a work programme with specific goals and actions.

Significantly, mountains cover a quarter of the world's terrestrial area and house about 12 per cent of the world's population. The people of these regions are inextricably linked with, and dependent on, their resources either directly or indirectly. "Many species that have become extinct in lowlands due to human activities are surviving in mountain regions," points out Klaus Tpfer, executive director, United Nations Environment Programme (unep), also underscoring the importance of protecting this rich biodiversity.

sbstta's proposed programme aims to conserve the mountain biodiversity and ensure its sustainable use. This, it proposes, can be achieved through actions that enhance the legal framework, preserve local communities' knowledge and establish regional and transboundary collaborative agreements. The programme also suggests support measures such as monitoring and assessment activities, improved research, scientific cooperation, and improvements in infrastructure for data and information management.

With financial support from Italy, an ad hoc technical expert group was established to assist the sbstta in reviewing the existing actions under the programme, and to include new ones before the next Conference of Parties (cop) -- the top decision-making body of the cbd. In March 2004, mountain biodiversity will be one of the crucial issues to be discussed at the seventh cop where the sbstta's advice will also be sought.

Some of the other achievements of sbstta include a recommendation to include the establishment of a network of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas, both within and beyond national jurisdictions, by 2012, and the initiation of a study on deep seabed genetic resources. The latter has been resisted for a decade by states with the financial and technological means to access rich deep-sea areas, on the grounds that it compromises potential economic benefits.

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