The Natural History Museum launches the Big Nature Debate today to explore public concerns about biodiversity loss ahead of the Nagoya conference in October.
British people are worried about the drastic loss of native species, the effects of climate change on global wildlife and over-fishing, according to research commissioned by the Museum.
Yet 85% of those asked did not know that next month officials from 193 countries are meeting in Nagoya, Japan to take important decisions about the future of biodiversity.
These decisions could affect how we protect, manage and make use of the planet’s diversity of life for decades to come.
The outcomes will also rely on ordinary people to understand the issues and help build a more sustainable society. Without this there will be little chance of long-term success.
The Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya, Japan, is on 18-29 October.
‘Very few people (12%) know there is an important meeting next month to take decisions about biodiversity,’ says Dr Robert Bloomfield, Director of the International Year of Biodiversity UK (IYB UK).
‘Only 13% of those surveyed could explain what biodiversity – the amazing variety of life on our planet – is, and how we benefit so much from it.
The Museum is launching the Big Nature Debate in the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). Working with IYB partners the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Zoological Society London (ZSL), the Museum wants the debate to get the public talking about biodiversity issues ahead of the Nagoya conference.
At www.nhm.ac.uk/bignaturedebate people will be able to quiz the experts, debate issues, get the latest biodiversity news and read thought-provoking blogs from biodiversity experts and other key thinkers.
There will also be a live streamed debate on 7 October 2010 where people can ask questions to a panel of scientists.
Nearly 500 species of plants, animals and fungi have been lost in England in the last 200 years. The Museum’s research found that 1 in 2 people in the UK are really worried about biodiversity loss, and 65% would like to know more about this and other issues such as over-fishing.
‘The rapid loss of biodiversity and natural systems will affect the lives of everyone in coming decades,’ says Bloomfield.
However, species loss is only one part of the problem, as Dr Bloomfield explains. 'The human race relies on the biodiversity of the natural world to maintain the healthy environment in which we all live.
'Biodiversity loss threatens the health, wealth and well-being of the world’s population and will have consequences for generations to come. It is crucial that we understand the scale of the issues and as a global society respond to them while we still can.
Bloomfield concludes, ‘With the Nagoya conference next month, The Big Nature Debate could not come at a more important time and we hope to capture the interest of as many people as possible.
'We want to get people talking about these issues and inspire them to make a difference.’