4. Three questions to Caroline Nieberding, biologist, researcher and Professor in Evolution, Biogeography and Molecular Ecology at the Earth and Life Institute at UCLouvain
1. What are concrete steps we could take to address the biodiversity crisis?
A major step at this stage, for the resolution of the biodiversity crisis, is to develop close collaborations between ecologists, who document the biodiversity crisis with robust estimators, and geographers, who document land use change, the main cause of the biodiversity crisis. This collaboration between ecologists and geographers would allow us to reorganise our land use, particularly in terms of sector plans in our regions, in order to bring about a strong political regulation of land urbanisation.
A second advantage of this type of collaboration would be to develop biodiversity restoration programmes within an explicit spatial framework, which would make it possible to restore biodiversity from nature reserves, where it has been confined for 50 years, to land used by human activities, which represents 75% of the land currently used. Conserving biodiversity only in nature reserves is indeed a challenge, as evidenced by the continual decline in the abundance of natural populations.
2. Did bodies like the Belgian National Focal Point to the CBD helped to overcome these difficulties, and how?
A great advantage of the CBD is that it provides scientific information of very high quality, which has been verified by a large community of scientific experts. It is this information and communication that enables a more comprehensive understanding of the problem. For example, for 20 years environmentalists have mainly tried to quantify the effects of global warming on the distribution and survival of species, whereas it is now clear that the main problem is not the climate, but land use, particularly industrial agriculture.
3. What are your hopes and wishes for the campaign Together for Biodiversity, in regard to the preparation of next COP15 in Kunming?
My wish is that the general population of our developed countries, especially in Belgium where the biodiversity crisis is beginning to be well communicated to citizens, will wake up and demand from our governments strong actions that protect our future for the coming decades. Failure to protect biodiversity at this stage could lead us to food shortages, rising food prices and growing health problems.