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Eco Essay - Embracing Coexistence

This Eco News Network Eco Essay, “Embracing Coexistence” by Michael Charles Tobias, PhD, is based on his speech at the Milan Expo 2015 on June 6th and is reprinted here with Dr. Tobias’ permission.

Embracing Coexistence

By Michael Charles Tobias, PhD

Image0010Italy has over 200 protected areas. Her ecological progress is very high on the marine side, but quite low on the terrestrial front. As many as 50% of all species in Italy are at a level of concern or significant risk, according to the Italian Committee of the IUCN, or Intl. Union for the Conservation of Nature. The good news, however, is that across Europe as a whole, recent data suggests that nearly a third of the continent is protected, higher than most other regions on earth. 

In 2008 there were approximately 120,000 protected areas on the planet. Today, there are over 208,000 such areas. The problem with this optimistic upwards graph is that so many of these areas are basically grey areas: some could be golf courses, where the biodiversity is limited to grass, sandtraps and non-native fringe forest. That grass is abstracting precious fresh or grey water in the meantime. Other protected areas might refer to ocean reserves where there is no monitoring or policing whatsoever for poachers, as in the case of vast swathes of marine area south of the Maldives, a region of the Indian Ocean known since 2010 as the Chagos Marine Protected Area, comprising 640,000 square kilometers and owned by Britain, thousands of miles away.

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