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Biodiversity conservation depends on scale: Lessons from the sience-policy dialogue

The year 2010 marked the deadline for the political targets to significantly reduce and halt biodiversity loss. The failure to achieve the 2010 goal stimulated the setting up of new targets for 2020. In addition, preventing the degradation of ecosystems and their services has been incorporated in several global and the EU agendas for 2020. To successful meet these challenging targets requires a critical review of the existing and emerging biodiversity policies to improve their design and implementation, say a team scientists in a paper published in the open access journal Nature Conservation.

These and other questions of increasing the "scale-awareness" of policy makers have been actively discussed at a special SCALES symposium at the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) in Glasgow on 28th-31st of August 2012. The lead author Dr Riikka Paloniemi from the Environmental Policy Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), in Helsinki, Finland, said: "The policies that regulate biodiversity protection and management operate at many administrative levels, employ a range of instruments at different scales, and involve a variety of governmental and non-governmental actors. These actors often have different insights as to what constitutes a scale-challenge and how to deal with it, inevitably leading to contrasting opinions."

"The question of scale has never been so acute before. Neglecting the spatial and temporal scale at which ecosystems functions when designing conservation measures may lead to long-standing negative consequences, and the failure of the 2010 target is one of the best examples of that" added Dr Klaus Henle from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ in Leipzig, Germany and coordinator of SCALES.

The main conclusion of the scientists is that scale-related problems, and their potential solutions, are all about improving our understanding of complexity of the processes. Dealing with a number of different scales and scale-mismatches in biodiversity conservation is challenging; it requires an analytical and political framework that is able to assess the adverse impacts of global change, and to implement the relevant policies at the relevant scale.

Contact: Dr. Riikka Paloniemi
Pensoft Publishers

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