Managing Biodiversity- gene banks & global frameworks

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  • Managing biodiversity
    • Genetic Banks
      • Threats to biodiversity:
        • A lot of diversity is stored in the 1750 gene banks around the world
          • As the diversity consists of seeds or germplasm these resources are very vulnerable to minor disruptions.
            • Ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan caused their gene banks to be destroyed.
              • Civil strife and revolution have disrupted gene conservation in Egypt.
                • Climate change will mean traditional methods of conservation can no longer provide absolute guarantee.
      • Management strategies:
        • Potatoes are the most important non-cereal crop and have been eaten for almost 8000 years.
          • Samples are being sent to Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Artic, by the Cusco Potato Plant, Peru.
            • The Plant covers 10 000 hectares and was set up by 6 indigenous communities to protect biodiversity and food security in that region.
          • Peruvian farmers are sending 1500 varieties of potatoes to the "doomsday vault".
        • The Svalbard Global Gene Vault backs up other gene banks like Kew, London.
        • GRIN, most up-to-date gene bank in the world, shares its database with other gene banks to create opportunities of collaboration and advancement.
          • NGO's like Seed Savers, Lowa, have adopted this database.
            • Encourages farmers naturalists to preserve crops as both are vital for conserving native species.
        • Kew Millennium Seed Bank in England has painstakingly collected  95% of UK's wild plant species.
          • Hoping to hold 25%of the World's plant species by the end of this decade.
      • Advantages
        • The gene pool of a species can be maintained even if it's extinct in the wild.
        • Seeds are compact and easy to store.
        • Act as an ultimate insurance policy for the World's food supply.
        • Needed due to climate change and the threats it poses.
        • GD is being lost 1000-10000 times higher than natural rate. Gene banks help combat rapid diversity loss.
      • Disadvantages
        • If the plants' habitat is destroyed, it can't grow in the wild but only in highly controlled conditions customised for each species.
        • Failsafe strategy that should never be used.
        • False sense of security that a species has been 'saved'.
    • International agreements
      • RAMSAR convention on wetlands
        • Established in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
        • Its aim is conserve all wetlands through local, regional and international actions and cooperation to achieve sustainable  development
        • Involves 168 member states and 1720 wetland sites which make up 159m hectares.
        • Any wetland protected by this convention is seen as an ecosystem of international importance- known as Ramsar sites.
      • CITES (1960's)
        • Ensure that international trade in specimens of endangered wild animals and plants is controlled.
          • Includes 180 countries and has provided protection for more than 35,000 species of animals and plants
            • Classifies plants and animals according to 3 categories based on how threatened their species is- appendix 1,2,3.
      • Main threats to biodiversity:
        • RAMSAR
          • Had Chao Mai Marine national park which is located in the Trang province and consists of 3 wetland areas with a range of habitats (mangroves, mudflats, corals).
            • Residents carry out destructive fishing activities which threaten the known 75 fish species.
              • Very vulnerable to the lack of pollution regulations that threatens the habitats of endangered species like the dugong
        • CITES
          • Endangered animals and plants are at risk of being hunted and exploited in an unsustainable way for items to trade.
            • E.g. Himalayan brown bear for fur, elephant tusks for ivory and mahogany trees for furniture

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