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IDB2012 booklet

IDB 2012

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The Green Wave

International Day for Biological Diversity 2012


Marine Biodiversity was the theme for International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) in 2012. Designation of IDB 2012 on the theme of marine ecosystems provides Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in marine life, the opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action.


How Much Life Is in the Sea?

From 2000 to 2010, an unprecedented worldwide collaboration by scientists around the world set out to try and determine how much life is in the sea.

Dubbed the ‘Census of Marine Life’, the effort involved 2,700 scientists from over 80 nations, who participated in 540 expeditions around the world. They studied surface seawater and probed the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean, sailed tropical seas and explored ice-strewn oceans in the Arctic and Antarctic.

By the time the Census ended, it had added 1,200 species to the known roster of life in the sea; scientists are still working their way through another 5,000 specimens to determine whether they are also newly-discovered species. The estimate of the number of known marine species - the species that have been identified and the ones that have been documented but await classification - has increased as a direct result of the Census efforts, and is now around 250,000. (This total does not include some microbial life forms such as marine viruses.) In its final report, the Census team suggested it could be at least a million. Some think the figure could be twice as high.


Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

Along the Coast

The Continental Shelf

The Open Ocean

The Deep

Great Migrations

The Human Impact

Causes of Decline

A Warmer Ocean

A More Acidic Ocean

The Problem of Over-Fishing

Why We Should Care

Blue Carbon

The Value of Marine Reserves

CBD and the Jakarta Mandate


Blue Carbon

One way to mitigate the effects of climate change is to try to prevent the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by reducing the burning of fossil fuels but also by protecting vegetation that sequesters large amounts of carbon through, for example photosynthesis. Coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, seagrasses and mangroves sequester far greater amounts of carbon that do terrestrial forests: each year one square kilometer of seagrasses absorbs approximately the same CO2 as 50 square kilometers of tropical forests. The goal of the Blue Carbon Initiative, set up by a coalition of non-governmental and intergovernmental partners, is to develop a mechanism by which a value can be assigned to this carbon, and a market established under which countries would be paid to protect them – hopefully simultaneously arresting the decline of rapidly disappearing coastal environments and mitigating climate change.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme