Politics influence biodiversity. Political decisions directly impact on man's interaction with the environment, through policies ranging from agriculture to infrastructure.
These decisions also influence many relevant socio-economic processes underlying human activities, writes an international team of scientists in the "Atlas of Biodiversity Risk", the first of its kind to be published.
The Atlas combines the key results of the major European research project ALARM (68 partner organisations in 35 countries in Europe and other continents) with some core outputs of numerous other research networks.
In total, 366 authors from more than 180 institutions in 43 countries contributed to the 280-page Atlas. The publication was presented at the Green Week conference June 2010 in Brussels, to which the European Commission invited around 4,000 participants.
The new "Atlas of Biodiversity Risk" is the first of its kind to summarise the major factors leading to the loss of biodiversity on a European and global level. The main risks are caused by global climate and land use change and environmental pollution.
The loss of pollinators and the impact of biological invasions are particularly relevant factors, which are given special attention. The impact and consequences of biodiversity loss are described with a strong focus on socio-economic factors and their effects on society.
"In all these efforts, it must remain clear that no single policy measure will rescue biodiversity - there is no silver bullet.
Instead, a systematic review of all policy fields is necessary to incorporate biodiversity," says Dr. Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), who heads the atlas publication team. "Research results should therefore be used to continuously update programs and develop policies for the long term."
The `Atlas of Biodiversity Risk´ makes use of three different scenarios for the forecast of effects and the elaboration of potential mitigation options: a) the growth applied strategy (GRAS), b) a Business-As-Might-Be-Usual scenario (BAMBU) and c) a Sustainable European Development Goal (SEDG).
"It is important to understand that scenarios are not predictions," says Dr. Joachim H. Spangenberg of SERI (Sustainable Europe Research Institute) Germany, who headed the socio-economic part of the ALARM project. "Scenarios provide a set of reasonable assumptions to help one's thinking about possible futures and the impact of current decisions on future development. They illustrate what could be the consequences of human decisions."