Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Progress depends on biological understanding



Download PDFDownload PDF

CSIROMedia Release Mr Nick Goldie (02) 6276 6478

Mobile (0417) 299 586

Fax (02) 6276 6821

CSIRO Media Releases are also available from Newsline at: http://www.csiro.au

Ref 9 8 / 1 7 8

PROGRESS DEPENDS ON BIOLOGICAL UNDERSTANDING

Hum anity depends u p o n ja io d iversity and ecosystem s for the very sustenance o f life, says Dr Peter Raven, one o f the w o rld ’s leading e n viro n m e n ta l s c ie n tis ts .

And th e 21 st c e n tu ry will be known as th e “ Age o f B iology” since human progress and global s u s ta in a b ility will be larg ely based on our knowledgeable use o f plants, animals and th e ir ecosystem s.

Dr Raven is D ire c to r o f Missouri Botanical Garden, Home S ecre tary o f the US National Academ y o f Sciences and a member o f the US President’s C om m ittee o f Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Dr Raven will give a public le c tu re at th e A ustralian Academ y of Science in Canberra to n ig h t (Tuesday).

“ Ecosystem s and th e dive rsity o f species th e y sup port underpin our econom y in very real, tho ug h o fte n unappreciated, w ays” Dr Raven says. “ The living th in g s w ith which we share th e pla net provide us w ith clean air, clean w a te r, food, clo th in g , she lter, m edicines and a e s th e tic enjoym ent.

“ Yet th e re are g re a t stresses on th e natural w orld caused by increasing human po pula tions and th e ir a ctivitie s. C urrently a tho usa nd species are being driven to e xtin ctio n fo r each new one th a t evo lves” he says.

Dr Raven says we m u st ta ke re s p o n s ib ility fo r alle via tin g th e im p a cts o f our own a c tiv itie s . “ We m ust a c tiv e ly preserve b io d iv e rs ity and p ro te c t natural ecosystem s in order t o preserve th e quality o f human l i f e ” .

“ Unless we organise c o lle c tiv e responses ap p ro p ria te to th e scale o f th e challenge we will s u ffe r th e con se q u e n ce s” Dr Raven warns.

Dr Raven is Chair o f PCAST’s B io d iv e rs ity and E cosystem s Panel which has seriously addressed th is issue. The Panel has ju s t produced the re p o rt Team ing w ith L ife : In v e s tin g in S cience to U n d e rsta n d and Use A m e ric a ’s L iv in g C apital.

C S I R O

28 July 1 998

more ...

2.

The re p o rt makes a num ber o f recom m endations to th e US A d m in is tra tio n w hich will help it m e e t th e cha lle n g e s o f 2 1 s t c e n tu ry

environm ental and econom ic planning.

The re co m m e n d a tio n s include ensuring t h a t th e e n viron m en tal know ledge base is fre q u e n tly up dated and th a t it is in te g ra te d in to m anagem ent, use and con se rva tio n o f b io d iv e rs ity and ecosystem s.

“ Fewer than 3 0 per c e n t o f species in th e US and less than 1 5 per ce n t

w orld-w ide have been discovered and d e scrib e d ” says Dr Raven. “ We m ust search o u t m ore biolo gical species, th e ir g e n e tic p ro p e rtie s and t h e ir in te r r e la tio n s h ip s .

“ C ritica l t o d e liv e rin g b io lo g ic a l in fo rm a tio n t o all s e c to r s o f s o c ie ty

is th e a p p lica tio n o f leading edge in fo rm a tio n science and te c h n o lo g ie s ” says Dr Raven.

“ In addition, ed ucation ab o u t th e ecological and eco nom ic im p o rta n c e o f b io d iv e r s ity is im p e r a t iv e ” he says.

The re p o rt re co m m e n d s new m echanism s fo r valu in g natural capital and cre a tin g eco nom ic in ce n tive s t o conserve it in order t o en courage a sustainable re la tio n sh ip be tw e e n e co n o m y and e n viro n m e n t.

“ The same prin ciples apply in A ustra lia as in th e US” says Dr Raven. “ Preserving A u s tra lia ’s unique b io ta p resen ts an e n orm ous challenge fo r its people, b u t also g re a t o p p o rtu n itie s fo r th e n a tio n ’s f u t u r e ” .

Dr Raven will deliver the ANIC Public Lecture at Australian Academy o f Science, Becker House (Dome), Acton, Canberra a t 5 .3 0 p m on Tuesday 2 8 July. The Lecture is sponsored by Dr Jim Cullen, Chief o f CSIRO Entomology. The title o f the address is “Biodiversity in the New Millenium: What Should We Do?” Public and press are welcome.

F u r t h e r i n f o r m a t i o n :

D r Ebbe N ie ls e n

email: e b b e . n i e l s e n @ e n t o . c s i r o . a u Jenny Goldie email: j e n n y . g o l d i e @ e n t o . c s i r o . a u

( 0 2) 6 2 4 6 4 2 5 8

0 4 1 9 4 1 8 7 4 5

( 0 2) 6 2 4 6 4 1 9 4