Dr. Macintosh making his presentation
In partnership with Hatton National Bank and Dilmah Conservation, Biodiversity Sri Lanka celebrated the International Biodiversity Day (IBD) recently at the HNB Auditorium in Colombo.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Donald Macintosh on the UN designated theme for 2016 ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and their Livelihoods’.
Biodiversity Sri Lanka Chairman and Ceylon Tea Services PLC Director Dilhan Fernando explaining the significance of the day stated that mainstreaming biodiversity into the core of business is crucial for long-term sustainability of business. In the long term this is a lot less expensive than the alternative disastrous consequences that could arise resulting from biodiversity loss and environmental degradation. Therefore early mitigation attempts are crucial and the role of the private sector cannot be over-emphasized, stated Fernando.
Dr. Donald Macintosh in his keynote address stated that people have to realize the link between biodiversity and eco-systems. By losing habitats we lose biodiversity. Speaking on the importance of forests he stated that, 90 percent of the world’s poorest depend largely on forests for their livelihoods. Emphasizing on the importance of biodiversity towards medicine, he stated that less than 1 percent of the plants in the world’s tropical rainforests have been tested for their medicinal properties, however the tragedy is that more than 100 rainforest species both plants and animals become extinct every single day.
Highlighting the importance of mangrove eco-systems, Dr. Macintosh stated that the loss of even one mangrove species has serious long-term implications for the delicate ecological balance of mangroves. This has serious impacts on livelihoods such as fishing and aggravates coastal erosion. Globally mangroves cover 15.2 million hectares and have the richest biological diversity among all eco-systems.
Speaking on the importance of coastal and marine biodiversity Dr. Macintosh stated that coral reefs and sea grass beds provide primary production and habitat needs of countless marine animal species. Conserving this fragile ecosystem is thus very challenging. This is due to factors such as high levels of exploitation of aquatic species by coastal fishing communities and commercial fisheries and the needs to urbanize and industrialize coastal zones. Consequently, private sector involvement to mitigate these effects is paramount stated Dr. Macintosh.
Dr. Macintosh also spoke on the Eco-System Approach defined as ‘a strategy for integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way’.
He provided examples on a successful ecosystem approach utilized - the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) by highlighted several successful PES projects being implemented in Vietnam. Vietnam has a national decree specifying that payment for forest services should apply to the use of water by hydro-electricity companies, tourist services companies bringing tourists to protected areas and aquaculture businesses.
Through this approach schemes such as providing coastal fisherman with market-based incentives to produce organic shrimp and clams on conditions that certain mangrove areas are maintained, providing payments to villagers living adjacent to forests areas for conservation and protection of forests by hydropower companies, etc., have been adopted. In Vietnam with the PES payment system, income from forest protection accounted for 74 percent of the household income for poor rural families stated Dr. Macintosh.