Comprehensive biodiversity programs needed for Tibetan plateau: Chinese researchers
By VISHAL GULATI
New Delhi, Oct. 3 (SocialNews.XYZ) With the draft global biodiversity framework in preparation for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15), Chinese researchers say that comprehensive biodiversity monitoring programs are urgently needed on the Tibetan Plateau – the “third pole” of the world.
Speaking virtually to IANS, Chinese researchers Lingyun Xiao and Li Li from Xi’an Jiaotong University-Liverpool talk about their work which deals with local communities on the plateau, which scientists say are rapidly ‘melting’ and urge action now for the climate.
âIn my opinion, comprehensive biodiversity monitoring programs are urgently needed on the Tibetan Plateau to understand the status quo and inform the development of countermeasures,â said Li, a landscape conservationist.
However, there is a lack of data to assess the impacts of climate change on the plateau’s biodiversity, she noted.
The two researchers conducted extensive research on human-nature interactions and the importance of involving local communities in conservation activities.
Lingyun, a field ecologist who focuses on the ecology and conservation of wild mammals, told IANS in an interview that the Tibetan Plateau is an important part of biodiversity conservation, although it does not entirely belong to one of the world’s hotspots.
âIt retains the unique assemblage of large mammals, most of which evolved from the plateau. A group of archaeologists have found an assemblage of mammalian fossils on the plateau, all dating back to four million years ago, long before the Pleistocene Ice Age.
“This suggests that the cold winters of high Tibet served as a breeding ground for mammals, which pre-adapted to the Ice Age and then successfully spread to the northern hemisphere through the Holarctic region,” she declared.
Lingyun admits to having observed grassland desertification due to melting permafrost in the western part of the Sanjiangyuan region on the Tibetan plateau.
Without mince words, she made it clear that climate change and melting permafrost or glaciers are beyond her area of ââresearch.
Regarding biodiversity and climate change, she replied: âAs different parts of the plateau experience different directions of climate change, I guess the impact on biodiversity would be different as well. Some species would benefit from climate change, such as those used to living in warmer areas, species renewal would occur, but no one could be sure that global biodiversity would decline or not. “
“Studies have been conducted primarily at the local scale from a warming experiment, or at the regional scale from the projection of the species distribution model.”
The first draft of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework set a goal of protecting 30% of terrestrial land by 2030.
As China has already published the ecological red line policy which covers 25 percent of the land area, it becomes important to consider other areas that could fulfill multiple functions and take into account biodiversity conservation.
The Tibetan Plateau is a vast region, ecological patterns and processes vary greatly from place to place. For example, the changes in temperature, precipitation and land cover of the plateau are very different.
Currently, there are 35 global biodiversity hotspots around the world. The eastern edge of the plateau belongs to the mountains of the southwestern China hotspot, and the southern edge to the Himalayan hotspot.
âThe conservation value of the plateau is well recognized nationally,â said Li, a landscape ecologist.
The three largest protected areas in China are all located on the plateau: Qiangtang, Sanjiangyuan and Kekexili.
The creation of these large nature reserves is certainly valuable in protecting the unique flora and fauna of the plateau.
âOur own research, however, found that the importance of Chinese farmland for conservation has been overlooked. The cultivated landscapes in China play an important role in maintaining the country’s bird diversity. The importance is even more pronounced. when the terrestrial protected area increases from 17 to 30 percent under the post-2020 biodiversity framework, âshe said.
She hoped the new framework would also provide guidance for protecting biodiversity outside conventional protected areas – especially to foster biodiversity-human coexistence in farmlands and even urban neighborhoods.
The Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) published in July the first draft of a new global biodiversity framework, to guide actions around the world until 2030, to preserve and protect the nature and its essential services to people.
At the third virtual meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which ended on September 3, delegates helped build political momentum to ensure the level of biodiversity ambition needed to safeguard and put biodiversity on the path to recovery. by 2030.
Delegates will continue their discussions when the session resumes in January 2022 in Geneva, where they hope to advance the framework for consideration at the next CBD meeting of its 196 Parties at COP-15 in Kunming in Kunming in China next year.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])