Global Spotlight Report #28: Climate Change Pushes Biodiversity Loss and Coronavirus in Leading Greenhouse Gas Emitting Countries

Introduction

There are strong disturbing links between biodiversity and climate change. These links have been further highlighted as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is thought to have a zoonotic origin, meaning a disease that jumped from animals onto humans; in this case, it may have been caused by the eating of infected bats from a wet market in Wuhan Province China. The world has seen an increase in zoonotic diseases over the last several decades, as forests, jungles, and other animal habitats are reduced due to climate induced extreme weather patterns.

Leaders of the World Health Organization, the UN, and WWF International say that pandemics, such as the coronavirus, are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature. Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade, and the destruction of forests and other wild places, are the driving forces behind an increasing number of diseases leaping from wildlife to humans.

For Global Spotlight Report #28, Climate Scorecard Country Managers investigated patterns of biodiversity loss in their countries and the impacts on human health and natural resources. The reports are disturbing, and reflect a pattern of deforestation and unsustainable land use practices. The climate community needs to better align with health professionals and raise awareness about the important linkages between sustainable land use, biodiversity preservation, and human health.


Country Reports

Habitat Destruction in Australia is Accelerating, Making Way for Property Development and Agriculture

Australia is home to eight of the world’s fourteen different terrestrial habitats, with over one million unique species and thousands of distinct regional ecosystems. Around 20% of Australia’s landmass is protected under the National Reserve System (NRS): a framework introduced in 1992 to conserve Australia’s international status as a “region of mega-diversity”. Different regions provide…

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Land Use and Land Cover Are Cause for Concern for Climate and Biodiversity in Brazil

In previous Climate Scorecard articles, we have hinted at how Land Use and Land Cover Changes (LULCC) are a pressing concern for Brazil’s commitment to emission reductions targets. That is because throughout history Brazil has been marked by the consistent removal of tropical forests, a human-induced impact credited as being a relevant source of carbon…

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Canada’s Diverse Ecosystem Needs Further Protection to Reduce Climate Change Impacts

Global diversity loss increasingly brings to our attention the disruption of life-sustaining ecosystems as species become more crowded together, creating conditions for new illnesses to spread. Urban development encroaching on species’ habitats, large-scale deforestation, habitat loss, agriculture intensity, food production, species and climate change can all drive biodiversity loss. Statistics Canada reports that, despite it’s…

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China Imposes Temporary Ban on All Wildlife Trade and Consumption after COVID-19

In 2020, China was to host the 15th UN Conference on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Kunming, capital of the southern Yunnan Province. China is considered to be one of 17 global mega-biodiversity countries with 10% of all plant species and 14% of all animal species on earth. The conference was to be a milestone for…

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The EU Has Made a Strong Commitment to the Growth of Sustainable Forestry

The European Union accounts for 179 million hectares of forests which make up 44.6% of its land and approximately 5% of the world’s forests. Contrary to what is happening in many other places around the world, the EU has set a strategy for protecting and restoring the loss of forests, leading to a slow increase…

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One in Four Species in France is Endangered, Despite Biodiversity Protection Efforts

Protection of biodiversity in France dates back to 1960, when national parks were created, giving the first legal framework for protecting lands that were deemed of cultural and natural importance. Since then, France has acted for the preservation of biodiversity through developing national action plans (with the first ones for the conservation and restoration of…

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The Concentration of Monocultures Limits Biodiversity in Germany

Wildlife loss, the growth of monocultures, mechanized agricultural, and livestock “factory farming” is increasing the risk of pathogen spillover, disrupting life-sustaining ecosystem services, and contributing to GHG emissions. This post is an assessment of land cover change in the top greenhouse gas emitting countries, with an eye on how natural, wild areas support species diversity and at…

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Land Being Lost to Urbanization: A Threat to Biodiversity in Italy

Italy is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in Europe, both in flora and fauna. Italy in particular recounts a very high number of endemic species; species that only live within the national borders. The North of the country as well as many areas in the centre and South are devoted to croplands, while…

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Deforestation and Land Use Changes in India Have Increased Zoonotic Disease Risk

India has some of the world’s most bio-diverse regions, accounting for c.10% of global floral and c.7% faunal species in addition to encompassing a wide range of biomes–desert, high mountains, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, swamplands, plains, grasslands, areas surrounding rivers, and island archipelago. It also hosts 4 biodiversity hotspots: the Himalayas, the Western Ghats,…

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In the 1960s, 80% of Indonesia’s Land-Cover Was Rainforest; Now It Is 50%

Indonesia is an equatorial country with significant tropical forest. These forests are the largest of their kind in Asia. Indonesia has the third largest endowment of tropical forests in the world after the Amazon and Congo rainforests. These Indonesian forests contain 10 to 15% of the earth’s plant and animal species. Indonesia has 480 types…

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Better Agency Coordination is Needed to Protect Forests and Improve Land Management in Mexico

Forests Mexico is considered a megadiverse country for it is home to an important part of the planet’s biodiversity. It has 139 million hectares of total forest cover of which 60% is composed of forest and jungle. According to data form Global Forest Watch (GFW), Mexico is ranked number 17 in the list of countries…

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Government is Failing to Protect Russia’s Biodiverse Forests

Russia is one of the countries with the largest biodiversity and many precious and fragile ecosystems. The relationship between biodiversity management in Russia and climate change was examined with the invaluable input of Dr. Ruben Mnatsakanian (Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Central European University), Dmitry Gorshkov (Head of biodiversity program at WWF…

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More Needs to be Done to Protect the Kingdom’s Biodiverse Regions in Saudi Arabia

When one thinks of Saudi Arabia, it might not seem like the type of country that is famous for its forests, but it does contain 2.7 million hectares of woodlands, particularly in its remote high-altitude areas. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Saudi Arabia has maintained 15 protected areas for biodiversity, covering almost 4% of…

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Invasive Alien Plants in Wetlands and Estuaries are a Major Threat to Biodiversity in South Africa

In South Africa, there are several places at particular risk of abrupt disruption to biodiversity in a high-emissions scenario. The coast from Cape Agulhas to Mozambique, inland areas on the western side of the Western Cape Province up to the Namibian border, the entire Northern Cape Province, and parts of the Free State are all…

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South Korea Has a Strong Biodiversity Plan That is Not Being Effectively Implemented

According to data from the Ministry of Environment in 2014, Korea has decreased forests by 2.1%, farmland by 15.9% and tidal flats by 20.4% over the past 20 years. Accordingly, new policies are being implemented to reflect the conservation of biodiversity. The government is supporting agriculture, forestry, and fisheries to operate in a sustainable way….

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Continental to Arid Climate Zones Becoming Less Apt for Biodiversity in Spain

Most of touristic Spain is known for, among other things, its ideal location for warm summers and tasty wine. While the Mediterranean climate that Spain boasts for its tourists is not known for growing many things well, it is well suited for some specific crops such as citrus fruits, olives, figs, and wine. It has…

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Ancient Woodlands, the Most Biodiverse Area in the UK Covers Only 2.4% of Land Area and Needs Protection

In the UK, agriculture takes up 72% of land (17.6 million hectares), woodland areas use 13% (3.2 million hectares), and peatland uses a further 9.5% of land, most of which resides in Scotland. The most biodiverse land is ancient woodland, that which has existed on record for over 400 years; these woodlands cover only 2.4%…

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Destruction of Animal and Plant Habitats Threaten Biodiversity in Ukraine

Ukraine has considerable potential for biodiversity. Four terrestrial ecosystem types are represented on a comparatively small territory. Moreover, Ukraine is situated at the crossroads of migration paths of many animal species. Plant and animal diversity accounts for more than 70 thousand species (according to experts, another third of species is still not described, particularly of…

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American Public Lands are Under Threat

More than 12% of the total land area of the United States and almost 20% of its marine area are protected by a combination of state and federal protections. However, only 5% of the U.S.’ total land mass is designated federally protected wilderness. The Wilderness Act, the strongest federal protection for public lands, preserves these…

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