Avert regional ecology disaster call
Manama, May 11, 2010
Experts are calling for a 'Noah's Ark' mission to protect the region from an ecological disaster.
Natural habitats in the Arabian Peninsula are already showing 'signs of irreversible collapse', with more than a thousand species facing extinction in the Arab world, according to a report launched in Bahrain yesterday.
A senior United Nations environmentalist said it was vital to save as many species as possible before it was too late.
'Ecosystems in West Asia are declining at an unprecedented rate triggered by one of the highest rates of urban population growth worldwide,' UN Environment Programme (UNEP) regional office for West Asia director and regional representative Dr Habib El Habr said.
'Habitats are undergoing massive pressures from overexploitation, such as overfishing, marine construction, dredging activities and oil extraction.
'Some habitats in the Arabian Peninsula are showing signs of irreversible collapse after being pushed beyond their ecological thresholds or 'tipping points'.
'Urgent interventions are necessary from the highest levels of decision makers to avoid these extreme situations.'
He was speaking at the launch of the third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), which warns that 130 species of plants and animals are disappearing worldwide every day.
It warns that 1,084 species are under threat in the Arab world, of which 24 per cent are fish, 22 per cent birds and 20 per cent mammals.
Manama was one of nine cities to host the global launch of the report yesterday at the Crowne Plaza.
Dr El Habr, who presented the report, said it was time for action.
'GBO-3 is a wake-up call urging us to embark on a 'Noah's Ark' mission,' he said.
'We need to save all the species of the world and conserve them, but unfortunately many species have already disappeared.'
He revealed there were anywhere between two and 30 million species worldwide, but most had not been discovered.
However, extinction rates are now up to 1,000 times what they were 50 years ago.
'Biodiversity is threatened and therefore our life that depends on the earth's natural resources is threatened,' said Dr El Habr.
'It is regrettable to note that the human ecological footprint has reached 1.4 times the earth's biological capacity.
'This means we need 1.4 planet earths to sustain us and this number is growing alongside the human population.'
The GBO-3 is a scientific assessment of the state of the world's biodiversity gathered by top scientists around the world.
It was launched in Bahrain by UNEP under the patronage of Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife head Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
It was presented by Dr El Habr and commission director-general Dr Adel Al Zayani to Municipalities and Agriculture Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.-TradeArabia News Service