International Organisations for Biodiversity Conservation

 

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4    IUCN—THE WORLD CONSERVATION UNION

       The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is the most important world body of 74 sovereign states, 105 government agencies, 674 non-governmental organisations and 32 affiliates, that is concerned with the conservation of nature world wide. The headquarters of the IUCN is situated at Gland, Switzerland. Any one who is interested in conservation should be aware of the activities of the IUCN, its organs and publications.

4  SPECIES SURVIVAL COMMISSION (SSC)

         The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is one of the six volunteer Commissions within the IUCN, with the mission to conserve biological diversity by developing and executing programmes to study, save, restore and manage wisely, the species and their habitats. SSC is the source of information for IUCN on the conservation of species. On behalf of the IUCN, the SSC delivers and promotes its knowledge, advice and policies to those who can influence the implementation of conservation action. The SSC has its headquarters at the IUCN in Switzerland.

a) MAIN GOALS OF THE SSC

The SSC has six main goals: 1. to assess the conservation status of and threats to species world wide, so as to generate recommendations and strategies  2. to identify conservation priorities for species and their habitats 3. to promote the implementation of specific recommended actions for the survival of species  4. to develop and promote policies for the conservation of species and their habitats 5. to enhance the efforts of individuals working on biodiversity conservation by linking them and providing access to an international forum; and 6. to promote an understanding of the importance of the conservation of species in the well being of people.

b) STRUCTURE OF THE SSC

         The SSC functions through a series of groups or Committees, under a ten-member Executive Committee giving an overall direction to the work. The Steering Committee with 40 members serves as focal point for particular regions or themes. The Plants sub-committee gives direction and guidance to the overall work of the Plant Specialists Groups

         The bulk of about 7,000 members of SSC in 188 countries are in over 100 Specialist Groups and Task Forces, which are the heart of the SSC. For plants there are Specialist Groups such as Bamboo, Bryophyte, Carnivorous plants, Cycad, Conifer, Fungi, Medicinal plant, Orchid, pteridophyte, etc. The Medicinal Plant Specialist Group has published in 1997, the first volume of the Medicinal Plant Conservation Bibliography. There is an Indian Subcontinent Plant Specialist Group to deal with plant conservation issues in the Indian subcontinent that includes representatives from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Similarly there are specialist groups for various animal taxa. Many of these specialist groups also publish Newsletters and the SSC releases a biannual publication Species to inform members of the SSC of all the activities of the Commission.

c) CONSERVATION ACTIVITIES OF THE SSC

        The following is a summary of the Priority Conservation Activities of the SSC, as identified during 1997-98: 1. Understanding Conservation Science a) the impact of global change on species b) understanding the ecological impacts of species uses c) explore the development of new management approaches and d) monitoring and evaluating SSC initiatives. 2. Supporting Conservation with Science: a) publishing the IUCN Red Lists of Threatened Animals and Plants b) SSC conservation action plans to identify conservation status of species and c) helping to ensure sustainability of uses of wild species.3. Technical Tools of Conservation: a) tools for species conservation to assist natural resource managers, decision makers and others. 4. Managing and Sharing Species Information: a) biodiversity information management; and b) communicating conservation priorities. 5. Technology Transfer—Supporting Conservation Practitioners: training in use of conservation tools. 6. Supporting Implementation of International Agreements by working closely with a) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), b) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), c) Trade Records Analysis of Fauna and Flora in Commerce (TRAFFIC), d) Rosmar Convention, and e) Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). 7. Conserving Critical Ecosystems: a) conserving oceans and coasts, b) conserving freshwater ecosystems and c) conserving forests.

         Space constraints prevent any more elaboration of the activities of the IUCN and SSC here, and any further information on these two organisations can be had from the respective offices, on request (see Websites and e-mail addresses, in Appendices 39 and 40).

4  CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (CBD)

         Another organisation, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), formed at a meeting in Rio de Jeneiro in 1992, came into force, with a membership of 133 countries, in December 1993. CBD aims to protect the world’s biological resources from further erosion or at least to slow that rate of erosion down. Till CBD came into force, living organisms were considered a common heritage of the humankind, but CBD accepts them as a sovereign property of the nation states. CBD is to promote conservation of biological diversity, a sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of the resultant benefits. Thus there is a difference in the objectives of the IUCN and the CBD, though basically both strive to conserve the world’s biological resources.

4  CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FLORA AND FAUNA (CITES)

         CITES and SSC work in co-operation with each other. The SSC’s Wildlife Trade Programme provides Parties to CITES and other governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with objective and authoritative assessments of biological impacts resulting from commercial trade in endangered species. CITES has established the international legal framework for the prevention of trade in endangered species and for an effective regulation of trade in others. Member states respect the recommendations of CITES presented in CITES Appendices and implement restriction on the trade of the listed species. CITES Appendix I lists species that are threatened while Appendix II includes the species that may become threatened with extinction if trade is not regulated. Those in Appendix III are species that require watching. Depending upon the need, species may be shifted from one to another Appendix. The CITES Appendices are periodically reviewed, the latest being the outcome of the Tenth Conference of the Parties (all those concerned with trade, governments, NGOs, and conservation experts) in June 1997 in Harare. The recommendations of the meeting in 1999, have not yet been available.

         Recently, CITES and TRAFFIC together resolved to work closely with traditional medicine communities to a) eventually eliminate illegal trade in endangered species of medicinal plants; b) ensure the that appropriate national legislation is in place to control trade in parts and derivatives of CITES listed species; c) strengthen enforcement efforts; d) promote forensic identification techniques; and e) investigate the use of substitutes and artificial propagation (Rosser, 1997).

4  TRADE RECORDS ANALYSIS OF FAUNA AND FLORA IN COMMERCE (TRAFFIC)

        TRAFFIC is the body that monitors the volume of trade in endangered species and works in co-ordination with CITES and SSC, to assess the impact of trade, the objective being to manage trade sustainably.

4   WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE (WWF)

        World Wide Fund for Nature is the most publicised conservation organisation with centres in almost every country. There is one in India, WWF-India. For most part, the activities of WWF were concerned with the megafauna, but in recent times plants are getting some attention. In India, WWF-India has now launched programmes for conservation of medicinal plants.