Biodiversity of islands is at risk and needs protection

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A dolphin leaps through the waters off Atauro Island, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret

The International Day for Biological Diversity is an opportunity to recognize the central role of biodiversity to life on earth and to human well-being.

That's according to Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Marked every 22 May, this year's focus is on island diversity.

Mr Dias said almost one third of the world's countries are islands that provide habitat for 20 per cent of all bird, reptile and plant species.

Islands also harbour more than half of the world's known marine biodiversity.

Yet, Mr Dias said the biodiversity of islands is at risk.

Islands have higher extinction rates. For example, 64 per cent of all recorded extinctions in recent human history in the last centuries happened on islands. Extinction rates for mammals are 177 times higher in island ecosystems than the average for all ecosystems. (0'21")

Mr Dias added that once thriving coral reefs are now suffering the effects of bleaching, ocean acidification and pollution.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message on this day, said the world needs to commit to protecting fragile ecosystems for the benefit of all the islanders, and people everywhere who depend on them.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration:  1’26″


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