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Scientists plan strategy to monitor biodiversity loss

Scientists plan strategy to monitor biodiversity loss
LONDON - Scientists in Britain said yesterday they planned to develop a strategy to monitor the loss of plant and animal species and their habitats to help governments reach targets set at the Earth Summit in South Africa.
Leaders at the 10-day World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg pledged last month to cut the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. But scientists at the Royal Society, Britain\'s national academy of science, said they may not be able to reach their targets because there is no global consensus on how to measure progress on an international scale. \"We want to look at the various ways biodiversity is measured and assess some of their strengths and limitations,\" said Professor Peter Crane, who chairs the society\'s working group on biodiversity. \"Second, we want to make some recommendations for the kind of measures that work best and the kinds of data that need to be gathered to enable us to use them in a more widespread way,\" he told Reuters. The scientists also hope to set specific targets for action by 2010 so they can determine if there is a significant reduction in biodiversity loss. They plan to publish their findings next year. \"We have a range of mainly scientists but also conservation biologists in the group trying to cover different ecosystems, not just terrestrial systems but marine and freshwater systems. We are trying to get a good, broad spread of scientific expertise,\" Crane said. Crane added that the Johannesburg summit focused on tackling global poverty, and showed that biodiversity was linked to problems with water, energy, health and agriculture. \"Many thousands of species are critically endangered, and over the next 100 years, without concerted preventative action across the world, the loss of biological diversity is likely to accelerate dramatically,\" he said. About 45,000 delegates attended the summit which has been criticised for its size and failure to produce a blueprint to reduce poverty and clean up the environment. Story by Patricia Reaney REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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