biodiversity

Hulot biodiversity plan: "Man is a weapon of mass destruction of life".

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Biodiversity is not at its first "plan": there was the national strategy 2011-2020 with its twenty objectives, the environmental conferences of the Dutch years, the law for the recovery of biodiversity of 2016... And in parallel, the process of negotiations and commitments at the international level. But this time, it is Nicolas Hulot who is in the driving seat and who is sounding the tocsin of a "great mobilization for nature". His plan presented on 4 July is intended to be ambitious, commensurate with the stakes. Stakes for which France is at the forefront: because of our overseas territories, our country has 10 % of all species on the planet. A wealth in danger of extinction.
 
AFrance is rich. Rich in an unsuspected biodiversity, distributed between metropolitan France and the overseas territories, present on all continents. The 2018 figures from the National Biodiversity Observatory (ONB) reveal that France is home to 10 % of the two million known species in the world. The title of this report must be heard as an alarm: " threats to living things: when nature can no longer keep up ".
 
Some 95,000 species of birds, insects, fish, mammals, flowering plants and fungi live in metropolitan France and more than 80,000 in overseas France. About 80 % of these 180,000 species are terrestrial or freshwater, reflecting a reality but also more partial knowledge of marine species.
Nearly 18,000 of these species are endemic - i.e. they do not exist anywhere else - including 83 % in Overseas France. France thus has sole responsibility for the conservation of these plants and animals for which it is home to the entire population.
 

Threats of massive decline

Of the 180,000 species recorded in France, more than 1,500 are considered threatened at the global level by the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
This IUCN Red List developed at the national level, which has assessed 6,500 species since 2007, estimates that 26 % of these species are threatened on the territory (without necessarily being threatened at the global level). Among them are mammals, such as the European mink, the wild rabbit, the lynx, the wolf or the bear, but also birds such as the snipe or the European kingfisher, amphibians such as the field frog or fish such as the curly skate.
 
The last few years have also seen a "vertiginous" drop in the number of birds in the countryside (-60 % of sparrows in the last ten years, a third of skylarks that have disappeared in fifteen years...), according to a shocking study by the CNRS and the Museum of Natural History, published in March.

READ UP : Spring will be silent: "vertiginous" decline of country birds.

The ONB's 2018 indicators, which aggregate data on living organisms collected by dozens of organisms, conclude for their part that there has been an overall decline of 30 % of these field birds between 1989 and 2017. And the decline also affects city birds, such as the Parisian sparrows, and even since 2005, "generalist" birds (which live in all types of environments) which, before, offset the disappearance of the others.
 

Humanity is concerned

This general decline is particularly worrying for humanity, which relies on nature for many vital services, from water to food (especially agriculture, threatened by the loss of pollinators), medicines and carbon absorption.
 
For behind the obscure word "biodiversity" lies simply " the living part of nature "says biologist Gilles Boeuf, former president of the National Museum of Natural History. He adds Biodiversity has always been about species appearing and disappearing, but the current problem is that it's going too fast. There have been great crises at times with terrible external events, such as huge volcanoes. But today, it's humans: it's the first time that a species among the 2 million is responsible for ".
 
Biodiversity is at the heart of the " Earth system ». If it degrades too much, we humans " we'll go with her. "he says. The economy, food, agriculture, health, technologies with biomimicry, are intrinsically linked to it. Gilles Boeuf uses an image to help us understand what is at stake: " My master, the biologist Robert Barbault, used to say: you make a beautiful knitted sweater, then you cut a stitch and start pulling on a piece of wool yarn. Everything will go, I don't know what will go first or last, but it all makes sense. It means that if one species goes extinct, there's bound to be an impact on the rest. ".
 

Nature in turmoil

The loss of this biodiversity is linked to various factors, which can be cumulative.
Among the main ones are pesticides. According to the ONB, the use of phytosanitary products has thus increased by 18 % between the period 2009-2011 and the period 2013-2015.
 
Another threat is the high rate of soil artificialisation. Between 2006 and 2015, the metropolis lost nearly 600,000 hectares of agricultural land and natural areas, the equivalent of a department such as Seine-et-Marne, mainly replaced by tarred surfaces.
Rivers are also increasingly fragmented by structures (16 flow obstacles per 100 km of river in 2018).

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Invasive alien species also threaten and compete with native ecosystems and species. France has 509 of these species introduced by man, voluntarily or involuntarily, outside their natural habitat, such as the Asian hornet, ragweed or bull frog.
 
Other important factors also taken into account by the ONB, which is working on maps highlighting the cumulative pressures on biodiversity: climate change or tourism pressure.
 

The countdown to the great collapse

Faced with this "collapse", time is running out. The countdown has already started and it is only time to react. « Nature sends us an SOS, a cry for help. Biodiversity is dying in silence "In May in Marseilles, the Minister for Ecological Transition, Nicolas Hulot, announced this plan.
 
 " We will set the goal of zero net artificialisation of soils... "Nicolas Hulot promised on Tuesday in an interview at the Parisien. " The aim is at least to compensate for artificial surfaces by desartificialising equivalent surfaces. The Minister continued, "We are committed to fighting urban sprawl. « The apogee of oversized surfaces is behind us. ", he assures.
The defence of fauna and flora will also involve the creation or extension of " twenty national reserves by the end of the five-year period ", he says.
On Monday, at a Facebook Live alongside the head of government, Nicolas Hulot had already presented an objective of " 100% of plastic recycled by 2025 "for this plan.

READ IN UP' : 55 manufacturers and federations committed to recycling and eco-design

Most of the ministers will arrive with their own contributions. We are going to get things in order so that everyone, political actors, local and regional authorities, economic actors and citizens, can get to grips with the issue of biodiversity. ", he promised.
 
To signify the extent of the commitment, Edouard Philippe announced the measures on 4 July, surrounded by several ministers, in the Great Gallery of Evolution of the National Museum of Natural History. With six "strategic axes" and a catalogue of 90 measures, the plan is broad in scope. Among the measures, some of the government's formal commitments are emblematic: "We will aim for zero plastic discards in the ocean by 2025: we will support a national ban on single-use straws and mixers by 2020, and we will support an EU-wide ban on the 12 most common single-use plastic products found on the coast and in the sea. "The press release issued at that presentation affirms the government's intention to lead..." strong actions to combat urban sprawl ». The aim is to "zero net artificialization ".
The involvement of farmers is solicited: " 150 M€ will be mobilized between now and 2021 to pay farmers for the implementation of actions to protect biodiversity (soil cover, hedge planting, preservation of meadows and wetlands, etc.). ".
To implement the measures of the plan, the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition will mobilize 600 million euros over 4 years, " to deploy actions that enable a change of scale in the territories and with all stakeholders ".
 
But will this plan live up to its potential? Many people share the same diagnosis but few are aware of the extreme urgency that needs to be treated. For today the question is no longer just whether mankind will manage to save and save endangered species; the question is whether our civilization will be able to pull through. This frightening question was just asked by the Prime Minister in his exchange on the social networking sites. That's a first. Indeed, never before has a state official evoked so precisely the hypothesis of the end of our civilization.
 
Referring to Jared Diamond's book, The CollapseThe Prime Minister explained in no uncertain terms that the question of the availability of the resources that our civilization needs to survive is now well and truly posed; it would not be a first in the history of mankind; the same question has arisen in other civilizations that have now disappeared.
" If we do not make the right decisions, an entire society literally collapses, disappears. I find that question quite haunting. I find it much more haunting than some people might think. How do we ensure that a human society does not reach the point where it is doomed to collapse? That's a complicated question"
 
Does this awareness, which seems sincere, bode well for the success of Nicolas Hulot's plan? We have to hope so because the challenge is immense and time is short.
For the defenders of the living, a radical change of models, both agricultural and urban, and profound reforms, particularly in the area of taxation, are needed. According to them, this is the only way to counter the impact of man, who has become, in the words of Minister Hulot, "... the only way to protect the environment. a weapon of mass destruction of life ".
 
Source: AFP
 
To go further :
- – « Biodiversity, from the ocean to the city "by Gilles Boeuf -Edition Fayard - Collège de France, April 2014
- – « The Existence Trap - For an Ecological Theory of Mind "by Vincent Mignerot - Solo Editions, November 2014
- – « Biodiversity - When EU policies threaten life forms "by Inès Trépant - Edition Yves Michel, February 2017
- – « Biodiversity: words from actors "Meetings with the Strategic Orientation Council of the FRB - FRB Edition, June 2011
 

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