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UN: World needs reserves twice the size of Argentina to save endangered animals

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The world must look to designate an area twice the size of Argentina as nature reserves, or we will have little chance of establishing enough protected areas for wildlife and fish to stave off a disastrous loss of species, according to an analysis of natural and marine reserves.

In the 20 years from 1990 to 2010, the amount of land with protected status rose from 8.8% to 12.7%, while the amount of sea protected was increased from 0.9% to 4%, according to a report by the United Nations environment programme (Unep) and others, published at the World Conservation Congress on Friday.

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Yet according to international targets adopted in 2010, that proportion must increase to 17% and 10% respectively by the end of this decade. On current rates of progress, this target looks very unlikely to be met. In order to meet the goals – which some analysts say will not even be enough to prevent rampant species loss – an area more than twice the size of Argentina would have to be designated on land as reserves, and at sea an area greater than Australia would need to be put under marine protection in order to meet the internationally set targets.

The report also concluded that about half of the world’s important sites for biodiversity are still unprotected.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, director-general of the IUCN, which is hosting the conference and co-authored the report, said establishing reserves and other forms of protection was an effective way of conserving species that are under threat. “Protected areas have contributed significantly to conservation of the world’s biodiversity and an increase in their coverage and effectiveness is vital to a thriving planet and communities for the future. These rich natural areas are very important for people, who rely on them for food and clean water, climate regulation and reducing the impacts of natural disasters.”

According to the report, much progress has been made in setting up and governing protected areas. But the wide range of ways of designating nature reserves in different countries, and the difficulty of establishing marine reserves, which often require cross-border cooperation and fraught negotiations over fishing rights, has made it hard to judge how well these initiatives are functioning.

Also at the conference, the World Bank’s vice president for sustainable development, Rachel Kyte, issued a challenge to conservation groups, calling on them to forge closer links with businesses in order to achieve their aims. Conservation organisations have long been suspicious of businesses, seeing them as more likely to exploit valuable species and habitats for their own gain than to strive to protect them, even if paying lip service to environmental goals. Some are also reluctant to follow the World Bank’s lead in attempting to put a value on the natural world, as a way of encouraging governments and the private sector to protect natural resources.

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But Kyte said that the future for conservation lay in co-operating with the business world, and called on activists to “get out of their comfort zones”. She said: “The need for action is overcoming global political sclerosis. Companies working in developing countries are increasingly investing in biodiversity expertise, in community development, environmental restoration and long-term conservation capacity building.”

The two-week conference, held every four years, is expected to have 10,000 visitors. Some of the more controversial subjects to be discussed include the issue of conservation groups such as the IUCN working more closely with, and receiving funding, from businesses.

© Guardian News and Media 2012

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[Lion in nature reserve via Shutterstock]


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Trump is enacting the presidency ‘George Wallace never had’: Conservative columnist

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On Friday, writing for The Washington Post, conservative columnist Max Boot tore into President Donald Trump's legacy on race.

"We know how a normal president responds when a white police officer ignites furious protests by killing a black man. It is the way President Barack Obama responded in 2014 after a grand jury refused to indict a white police officer who had fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the National Guard had to be called in to deal with looting and fires," wrote Boot. "Obama expressed sympathy for the protesters — their anger, he noted, was 'rooted in realities that have existed in this country for a long time' — while making clear that he had no sympathy with violence: 'Burning buildings, torching cars, destroying property, putting people at risk — that’s destructive and there’s no excuse for it. Those are criminal acts. And people should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts.'"

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White House goes into lockdown as George Floyd protests in DC rage hotter

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On Friday, CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang reported that the White House has now issued lockdown orders.

The development comes as protests against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota have spread to Washington, D.C. and crowds are growing angrier. Earlier in the evening, a protester scaled the wall of a federal building and spray-painted an obscene anti-Trump message above a window.

The White House is currently under lockdown orders. https://t.co/LasnCIjkum

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‘Virtual terrorism’: Far-right trolls are targeting marginalized groups on Zoom calls

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On May 14, thirty-one residents of an East Oakland neighborhood joined a videoconference call to meet with their neighborhood services coordinator to hear updates about upcoming community events and resources available to residents; the meetings, which took place regularly in person prior to the pandemic, recently transitioned to virtual videoconferencing app Zoom. Then, five minutes into the call, the number of attendees jumped up to 72.
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