Wake-up call needed to protect biodiversity
Manama, June 7, 2010
Bahrain, where biodiversity is under threat, needs a wake-up call to do more to safeguard the environment, experts have said.
At the decision-making level, Bahrain has ratified various environmental protocols, including the Convention on Biodiversity, has declared six protected areas and is drawing up a National Environment Strategy.
However, these steps need to filter down to the people, who need to connect with nature and take steps to protect the environment, said Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife environmental specialist Ali Mansoor.
'The UN has designated 2010 as the International Year of Biological Diversity,' he said.
'This is an opportunity for the biodiversity community to encourage people to discover the biodiversity that surrounds them, realise its value, our connection to it and the consequences of its loss and act to save it.'
Mansoor said people needed to understand that species were becoming extinct at the fastest rate known in geological history and mostly due to human activities.
He said species loss was 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
It is estimated that species are becoming extinct at a rate of about one in every 20 minutes, added Mansoor.
Bahrain has a terrestrial ecosystem, which includes springs, freshwater wetlands, vegetative deserts and agricultural land, including date palm groves and marine ecosystem that comprises open sea, sea grass and coral reef.
The present situation in the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) report shows that industrial waste being dumped in the sea and marine construction are two major threats to species native to Bahrain.
'The report states that a variety of animal and plant species that used to thrive in Bahrain naturally, have already been lost,' said Mansoor.
'Bahrain's shrimp stocks are also under threat from industrial effluents being dumped into the sea, while the dugong population has been hit by marine construction that has destroyed most of the sea grass beds they feed from.
'The country has also witnessed the degradation of its date palms and natural water springs due to decades of groundwater extraction.'
Bahrain has some 229 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, according to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Of these, 0.9 per cent are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 5.2 per cent are threatened.
Bahrain is home to at least 195 species of vascular plants.
'We need to raise awareness about how biodiversity is important for our lives and what people have already done to save biodiversity,' said Mansoor.
'We also need to promote novel ways to safeguard biodiversity and encourage people to take immediate steps to reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity.'
Mansoor was speaking on behalf of the commission's environmental assessment and planning directorate director Zahwa Al Kuwari at a World Environment Day celebration at the Bahrain Society of Engineers in Juffair yesterday.-TradeArabia News Service