Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can We Have Our Biodiversity and Eat It Too?

Can We Have Our Biodiversity and Eat It Too?

This question was the subject of a conference over the past few days in Canberra. 
'In this, the UN International Year of Biodiversity, the Crawford Fund’s 2010 international conference will highlight the value and vulnerability of biodiversity in agriculture; address the additional pressures that climate change impacts will bring to bear on both the conservation and use of biodiversity, and offer some policy directions.'

I caught this interview about one of the conference key speakers on Radio National's Bush Telegraph program yesterday:
Kew magic

In May when researching on seeds and Western Australia being one of the top 10 biodiversity hotspots of the world I came across numbers of publications by Professor Stephen Hopper and soon learned even though he had spent many years in Western Australia he had moved to London to take up the role as director of Kew Gardens in 1994.... also noting he had grown up not too far south of the NSW - Qld Border. 

The list and range of publications he is associated with is enormous... the book below is one of an accessible and popular series produced with artist Philippa Nikulinsky.

Life on the Rocks

by Stephen D Hopper with illustrations by Philippa Nikulinsky

Back by popular demand, the latest edition of this classic work now comes in a handsome hardcover format.
‘Anyone interested in the natural history of Western Australia will find this fine publication a must for their bookshelf’ — West Australian.
‘… a book for anyone with a love of the bush, gardens and art’ — Hobart Mercury.
‘… with exquisite illustrations by Philippa Nikulinsky and a lively text by Stephen Hopper the book is in the tradition of the Age of Exploration’s treasured natural history books’ — Summer Reading Guide.


Professor Steve Hopper is a conservation biologist and the 14th Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He holds Visiting Professorships at the University of Reading, The University of Western Australia and at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth and is a Fellow of the Linnean Society and a Corresponding Member of the Botanical Society of America. He was awarded the Nancy T. Burbidge Memorial Medal from the Australian Systematic Botany Society in 2008 and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Western Australia in 2010.

Steve Hopper has been involved in the collaborative description of over 300 new plant taxa and is author/co-author of over 260 scientific publications (130 peer reviewed), and 14 books and monographs. He has led the development of a forward 10 Year Breathing Planet Programme for Kew and its global partners. This collaborative Programme aims to make an urgent and necessary step change in the application of science-based plant diversity solutions towards sustainable living and a reasonable quality of life in the face of accelerating climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

Kew's Director, Prof Stephen Hopper

Below is the topic of his keynote address: 
The Sir John Crawford Memorial Address:  Plant Diversity at the Turning Point
The world aspires to sustainable healthy living for all. This ambition is challenged by accelerating global change, fuelled directly by entrenched patterns of land and water use and biodiversity, combined with rising consumption and ongoing population growth. We can and must improve levels of agricultural productivity to feed the world.

At the same time, the hope of a continuing ‘green revolution’ as future salvation focussed on a few mainstream crops seems increasingly unlikely without new land and water ethics, economics, and political and financial systems that value social and natural capital as much as present systems focus on financial goals.

We are at a global turning point, comparable to that when slavery was abolished. Plant diversity has never been more important than now to help with solutions towards sustainable livelihoods. The presentation will touch upon global plant diversity patterns, ongoing scientific discovery, and strategies that have helped and will help towards humans living with and sustainably using biodiversity.


Crawford Fund Annual Parliamentary Conference - 2010 Annual Development Conference   
Biodiversity and World Food Security:
Nourishing the Planet and its People

Invite from the Chairman - I am pleased to invite you to join me at another of the Crawford Fund’s thought provoking annual international conferences. Our 2010 event, “Biodiversity and World Food Security: Nourishing the Planet and its People” will be held in Parliament House, Canberra over the period 30 August to 1 September. The conference brochure is attached.
This will be the key event in the Australasian region and one of very few international events focusing on food security imperatives in relation to biodiversity conservation.
The conference will highlight the value and vulnerability of biodiversity in agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods, especially for developing nations and Australia; address the additional pressures that climate change impacts will bring to bear on both the conservation and use of biodiversity, and offer some policy directions for Australia and the developing world.
Confirmed key speakers include:

  • Dr Cristián Samper, Director, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution;
  • Professor Steve Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew;
  • Dr Emile Frison, Director General, Bioversity International;
  • Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive, CSIRO;
  • Dr Meryl Williams, Chair of Commission, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research;
  • Professor Hugh Possingham FAA, Director of The Ecology Centre at the University of Queensland
We are improving on last year’s well-received changes to the conference structure and have included an additional opportunity for gaining new perspectives, feedback and networking. You are able to register for all or any combination of the conference events at low fees, set to cover the catering and venue costs.

I hope to welcome you to our conference to discuss the options and issues involved and the important role of international agricultural research.

Yours faithfully,
The Hon Neil  Andrew AO, Chairman, The Crawford Fund

Up Arrow Background

The topic has been chosen to coincide with the UN International Year of Biodiversity, a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our livelihoods.

Our conference will be the key event on the topic in the Australasian region, and one of very few international events focusing on food security imperatives in relation to biodiversity conservation. It will emphasise the importance of biodiversity for agriculture, food security and rural livelihoods, especially for developing nations and Australia, and the additional pressures that climate change impacts will bring to bear for both the conservation and use of biodiversity. We have assembled a group of internationally renowned speakers addressing issues related to the threats being faced to conserve biodiversity for food security in the face of climate change. What are the solutions and what does international agricultural research have to offer?

Biological diversity, in the context of the conference, is made up of the plants that feed, clothe, house, and heal people; crops, aquatic and livestock species that feed us; insects that pollinate fields; the forests that are the lungs of the planet; and microorganisms that regenerate the soils that grow our food.

Conserving and using biodiversity sustainably is key to feeding the more than one billion malnourished people in the world. The conference topic is of particular interest in Australia, as climate change, species invasions, ignorance and neglect erode the globe’s genetic resources, threaten the biodiversity of large and small organisms - in land, sea and air - on which the health and resilience of the planet depends. In the developing world, population growth and poverty exacerbate the pressures.

Australian agriculture is highly dependent on imported genes. Other than our rich forest genetic resources, we have contributed little directly to the productive global pool from our indigenous plant and animal resources although we are a major contributor in relevant research and development that benefits our own farmers and consumers and those in the developing world.

Having mentioned Kew Gardens I have added this article below from their website which features a debate that was aired on CNN international in the 
past week.

CNN International's Earth's Frontiers Debate

Is the loss of the planet’s biodiversity a greater threat than climate change? Join in the debate, hosted at Kew, on Wednesday 25 August 2010.
CNN panelists: Paul Smith, Ahmed Djoghlaf and James Rogers
CNN panelists: Becky Anderson with Paul Smith, Ahmed Djoghlaf and Jon Williams.
Earth's Frontiers is CNN International's monthly environmental programme. The latest debate in the series asks if the loss of the planet’s biodiversity is a greater threat than climate change and is being held at Kew. Kew is an international centre of biodiversity research and our global conservation work is vital in highlighting the current threats to the world's plant life and helping to protect species at risk for our future.  
This topical debate offers viewers the opportunity to find out the critical importance of maintaining our ecosystems, the role Kew plays in communicating this and why individuals, big businesses and governments can no longer ignore this grave challenge that threatens the future of our planet and our very existence. The audience have a great role to play in shaping the debate as they have the opportunity to raise questions and share opinions in advance before the debate begins.
Joining Becky Anderson from CNN are Paul Smith, Director of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank who is also a specialist in ecology and plant diversity in southern, central and eastern Africa; Ahmed Djoghlaf, UN Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity who has extensive knowledge of global environment processes within the UN system; and Jon Williams, Head of Biodiversity for PriceWaterhouseCoopers who has extensive experience working on sustainable forestry finance, biodiversity and ecosystems markets. 

Transmission times:

Earth’s Frontiers Biodiversity Debate will air on CNN International at the following times:
  • Wednesday 25 August at 0930 and 1730
  • Saturday 28 August 0930, 1530 and 2130
  • Sunday 29 August at 0630 and 1830
  • Monday 30 August at 0430


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness Sophie! I have been blogging less, and "studioing" more. I just noticed the background of the spoons. So beautiful! You as always provide so much great info!

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you Mary!
I was indecisive about the spoons for awhile - but it was the best image I could access for the purpose and I like the immediacy it provides in connecting our thoughts to the Seed heritage on this globe we may be taking for granted... and seeds are eaten every day in the form of ground spices and pulses and such.
Nice to hear your feedback,

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