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15 new conservation concerns
Date:12/12/2011

A review carried out by a group of international specialists has identified several emerging issues that are likely to damage biodiversity in the coming years.

The review was conducted by 22 specialists from 20 institutions, including the University of Cambridge and the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, and aims to provide a 'critical list' of issues that need investigating in the near future.

The analysis focused on changes in climate, technology and human behaviour, with particular attention on the way developments in these areas could impact on the conservation of biodiversity. The authors hope that by identifying these issues, which are often at the very edge of our current understanding, researchers and policy-makers can be given early warning of what tomorrow's problems are likely to be allowing them to take appropriate preventative action now.

A total of 15 issues have been highlighted by the review, each focusing on a specific development. One of the issues is the potentially damaging impact of pharmaceuticals that are released into the environment after human use. As populations age and our use of drugs increases, these chemicals are beginning to affect fish, birds and other organisms, but the larger scale impact on our ecosystems is mostly unknown. Another area identified by the study highlights the increasing use of nuclear batteries and the safe disposal of their waste. These novel power sources could provide electricity to remote and deprived communities but the implications for the environment are yet to be determined.

In order to identify each issue, the team used a technique referred to as Horizon Scanning. This method is regularly used by businesses to identify new market opportunities and scientists use it in a similar way - to determine emerging areas of concern that will need to be investigated. As with business, the successful use of this technique will allow researchers to expose issue
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Contact: Andrew Gould
andrew.gould@pcmd.ac.uk
44-139-268-6107
The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry
Source:Eurekalert

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