Revaluing Tropical Diversity

 

 

Why clear vast swathes of rainforest, with up to 75,000 tree species per kilometre, and replace it with a single species of oil palm? Why are custodians of a vast amount of cultural knowledge forced to live in poverty on the sidelines of society? The short answer is because there is a huge difference between the intrinsic value of the diversity of the tropics and its current economic value. Business destroys diversity when it does not value it. Government alone cannot hold stop the loss – we need to fight fire with fire as it were, and create innovative business models that change the incentives for tropical decision-makers. We need to create incomes from sustaining, and not destroying, tropical diversity.

 

 

The tropics are the most biologically and culturally diverse part of our planet. Tropical forests make up 7% of our land area but contain half the world’s species. Coral reefs take up less than 1% of the ocean’s floor but contain 25% of marine life. Just as the tropics are the treasure house of nature’s unique forms, so is it the home of the vast majority of the variety of human cultures – most of the world’s linguistic diversity occurs in just two parts of the world: West and Central Africa; and in an area running from India, through Southeast Asia to the Pacific, together holding 3,929 languages. This parallel biological and cultural diversity – or biocultural diversity – is the hallmark of the most precious area of earth.

 

 

However, we know this incredible diversity is shrinking fast. Already, half of our tropical forests have been cleared, and 40% of rainforest species are predicted to become extinct within the next century. Cultural extinction is occurring in parallel with biological extinction, with 90% of currently spoken languages predicted to die by 2050. This two-pronged loss is driven by the way profit is made in the tropics – it pays to clear forest and sell wildlife products, while the incentives to maintain traditional knowledge are lost, as it no longer sustains individuals in a capitalist world.

 

 

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CBFP News

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22 May 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity

The theme of the 2020 International Day for Biological Diversity is “Our Solutions are in Nature”. It shows that "Biodiversity remains the answer to a number of sustainable development challenges that we all face. From nature-based solutions to climate, to food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity remains the basis for a sustainable future."

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CBFP News Archive

2022

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