Hundreds of thousands of seabirds are killed accidentally every year in commercial marine fisheries. This includes globally threatened species, such as an estimated 100,000 albatrosses. This bycatch of non-target species is a common side-effect of the fishing industry. The Albatross Task Force (ATF) is the world’s first international team of seabird bycatch mitigation instructors. Since 2006, it has successfully reduced the incidental bycatch of albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds in targeted fisheries, by introducing simple and practical fishing techniques and mitigation measures.
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In Europe, as in the rest of the world, human activities are causing rapid biodiversity loss. Over the last two decades, the EU has been trying to tackle this in various ways, including through the Natura 2000 Network of protected areas. This includes over 27 000 protected areas, covering over million km2, making it the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world. The Natura 2000 Network creates a framework for mainstreaming conservation into a range of sectors. The European Commission led the development of the Natura 2000 Network.
European countries are planning massive investments in renewable energy, which will mean that many more transmission lines will be needed to transport the energy produced. This is essential for reducing carbon emissions, but without careful planning, transmission lines can create a range of risks for biodiversity. The Renewables Grid Initiative (RGI) was launched in 2009 as a neutral platform, enabling Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and NGOs from across Europe to come together as equal partners.
In the last couple of decades, the development of practices and use of tools for managing the interaction of oil and gas developments with the surrounding natural environment have been steadily improving; these are now being incorporated into decision-making processes throughout the oil and gas project lifecycle.
Protected areas sometimes struggle with effective management plans, and tensions may arise between various stakeholders.
Whilst the Earth’s diversity of species and habitats must be preserved first and foremost for their intrinsic value, the solution (from a socio-economic perspective) lies in recognizing and valuing nature for the ecological services it provides – upon which societies and economies are built. Nature, or “Natural Capital” – biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services – must be preserved and restored as the foundation of human societies and economies.
At the end of the European summer, two million soaring birds head south towards Africa. Their route, along the Red Sea/Rift Valley flyway, is the second most important flyway for soaring birds in the world. However, just as these areas are essential to the birds’ survival, so too are they vital for human populations, and host a growing concentration of development and energy infrastructure. If power lines and wind turbines are poorly sited along the flyway, the cumulative impacts can add up to threaten entire bird populations.
There are instances where tourism can support conservation efforts. Environmental certification, if appropriately designed for the Pacific region, could direct tourism development in the right direction. The proposed Blue Star environmental tourism certification is being developed with the Pacific in mind.
Making biodiversity conservation and protected areas relevant to business demands an integrated approach. It must integrate methods for measuring business impact and dependencies on nature, include clear communication on what this means for a business in terms of risk and opportunity, and involve collaboration to identify actions and define approaches that will underpin the business’s contribution to conservation.
As the guidance on biodiversity offset implementation continues to evolve, there is the potential for offsets to benefit existing protected area networks through improving connectivity between sites and across landscapes, promoting biodiversity and ecosystem service representation, contributing to national biodiversity targets and supporting sustainable development objectives.