2021, year of biodiversity #ST54 [fr]
On the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22, 2021, the Scientific Department of the French Embassy looks back at the global agenda of this year, and the importance of Franco-Australian research on biodiversity.
After a kick-off by France at the One Planet Summit on January 11, 2021 in Paris (#ST35), two major meetings postponed to this year because of the 2020 pandemic are scheduled to take place at the end of the year in order to set important milestones for international collaboration for biodiversity.
Organized by France, the 43rd Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) from June 14 to 24, 2021 will finally take place online. This annual meeting is the foundation of international collaboration for the protection of this continent dedicated to peace and research. For more information, visit our Science Thursday #ST48.
Initially scheduled for June 2020, the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will take place from 3 to 11 September 2021 in Marseille. For the first time, the Congress will be partially broadcast to the public.
Held every four years, the Congress provides an opportunity for IUCN’s 1,400 member organisations, including governments, civil society and indigenous peoples, to engage democratically on the most pressing issues in nature conservation and the actions needed to address them.
The 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP 15) will be held in Kunming, China, from 11 to 24 October 2021. It will consider the results of the implementation of the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biological Diversity, as well as the final decision on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The Conference of the Parties is the governing body of the Convention on Biological Diversity, dedicated to promoting sustainable development. It advances the implementation of the Convention through decisions taken at its regular meetings.
COP15/ COP26, what is the difference? COP means Conference of the Parties, and COP26 is not for biodiversity but for climate! This international conference, which will take place from November 1 to 12, 2021 in Glasgow (Scotland), must bring together the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC.
These two conventions were signed in 1992 by 150 heads of government during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development ("Earth Summit") held in Rio de Janeiro.
Australia’s biodiversity is rich and unique. Between 7 and 10% of all species on Earth are found in Australia, with a high level of endemism: 87% of mammals, 45% of birds, 93% of reptiles, 94% of frogs and about 92% of vascular plants in Australia are not found anywhere else in the world. Some animal species have become emblematic, such as echidnas and platypuses, marsupials (kangaroos, koalas), as well as many plants (eucalyptus, acacia, banksia).
Australian environmental policy is prominent on the international scene, being a signatory of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) since 1993, completed by the 20 "Aichi targets" in 2010. Following this commitment, Australia launched the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity in 1996, becoming one of the first countries to develop a national strategy for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It remained one of the main instruments for the implementation of the Convention until 2010 with the launch of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030, replaced in 2019 by Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2019-2030.
France and Australia are high-level scientific partners in the fields of biodiversity and environmental protection, and have many collaborations with leading organisations (CNRS, CIRAD, IRD, IFREMER, CSIRO, AIMS, universités…). In this context, the Embassy’s scientific department carries out a bi-monthly monitoring of Australian research, as well as Franco-Australian collaborations, on the theme of the environment and biodiversity.
The articles below are taken from the March-April 2021 review, which also covers the fields of health, space, new technologies, etc.
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- 14th International Coral Reef Symposium
The 14th International Coral Reef Symposium will be held virutally this summer from July 19-22, 2021. This session will provide an overview of the latest coral reef research on more than 15 topics (program available here).
Australian politics - The news
- Two new marine parks for the Australian territories of the Indian Ocean
The Morrison Government has announced $5.4 million to create two marine parks around Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, covering 740,000 square kilometers - a huge expanse of ocean almost as large as the state of New South Wales. Once in place, it will become the second largest protected area in Australian waters, behind the Coral Sea Marine Park (989,000 km2). It will also allow better targeting illegal foreign fishing, to support scientific research, as well as the economy of island communities.
France-Australia’s scientific cooperation - Latest developments
- Collaboration on the dynamics of marine predators off Reunion Island
A study conducted by an international team of researchers from France (Univeristé de la Réunion), Australia (Macquarie and Sydney Universities) and Brazil is investigating the impact of tiger shark fishing campaigns on the reduction of attack risks.
Science in Australia - Live from the laboratories
- [Marine Biodiversity] Pacific Ocean estimated to have half a trillion corals
For the first time, a study by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University provides a count of the number of corals across the Pacific Ocean, from Indonesia to French Polynesia. The results are crucial for coral research and conservation, as they raise the question of the impact of coral restoration as a solution to climate change: it would take about 250 million adult corals to increase the coral cover of the Great Barrier Reef by only 1%.
Map showing the spatial extent of the study, and the locations where coral cover (blue circles), species abundances (triangles) and reef habitat data (black circles) were collected.
- [Aquatic Biodiversity] Participatory Science for Australian Frogs
More than 300,000 records have been submitted by citizens across Australia using the Australian Museum’s FrogID phone app, creating one of the largest databases of its kind in the world.
Frogs are key bioindicators of ecosystem health. Public interest in these amphibians allows researchers led by Gracie Liu of the University of NSW to continue to study the health of frog species across their ranges, of which 40 of Australia’s 243 known species are threatened with extinction.
Did you know? In English the sound of the frog is "Ribbit", but "Coa" in French.
- [Antarctica] Southern Ocean krill research expedition concludes with groundbreaking results
In collaboration with CSIRO, scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), led by Dr. So Kawaguchi, returned to Hobart aboard the research vessel (RV) Investigator with new insights into krill populations. Three cameras and echo sounders have been anchored on a series of different seabeds, where they will record a three-dimensional view of krill at depths of up to 1500 meters over the course of a year, including in winter when the surface is covered by ice. The results will give a never before seen glimpse into the life of krill, with the goal of turning this data into a reliable estimate of its biomass.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley welcomed these results, which will help improve CCAMLR’s management policies, and set a precautionary catch limit for the krill fishery that is expected to develop in the region ("blue economy"), which has not been exploited since 1995.
For more information on the expedition, go to the fourth episode of the series "East Antarctic Krill Chronicles".
- [Antarctica] Sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island’s ecosystem is back in balance
In 2011, the Tasmanian government and the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) conducted the largest-ever multi-species eradication program on remote Macquarie Island, targeting rabbits, black rats and house mice that had impacted the island’s native birds and vegetation for nearly a century by becoming part of the food chain. A PhD study by IMAS researcher Toby Travers reveals the implications of removing these pests on native species that had adapted to feed on them, as well as the impact of secondary poisoning.
The study demonstrates the value of linking eradication projects with robust monitoring programs to ensure that declines in predator populations or recovery of native prey populations are anticipated and adequately quantified, or supported by additional management actions (breeding programs or transfer of native prey).