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Biodiversity struggle must go on

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Although the UN International Year of Biodiversity is drawing to a close, the struggle to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss significantly must go on. To track progress the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership has developed a number of indicators.

One of them, the Biodiversity for Food and Medicine Indicator (BFMI), is intended to measure changes in the conservation status of animals used for food or medicine and provide a baseline for the conservation status of medicinal plants. Many species used in this way are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat loss and disease, so threatening the health and well-being of those people who depend upon them.

The BFMI was developed in a collaboration between Traffic (the wildlife trade monitoring network), the International Union for Conservation of Nature and BirdLife International. It provides hard evidence that many species of mammals, birds and amphibians used as food and medicines are declining.

For example, of 9,956 known bird species, 14 per cent  are thought to be used for food or medicinal purposes and 23 per cent of those are threatened with extinction. We should also note that only 3 per cent of the estimated 70,000 plant species used in traditional and modern medicine have been properly evaluated for their global conservation status.

Other indicators will focus on areas as diverse as habitat loss, invasive species and traditional knowledge. An indicator for food plants is planned but the task is so big that it may only be able to monitor selected groups rather than individual species.

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From: Beyond pharmacy blog

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