Biodiversity conservation has become a world wide issue since the adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993. More recently, the G8+5 leading industrialized nations endorsed the “Potsdam Initiative – Biological Diversity 2010”. This initiative would commit these great economic powers to reduce the irreversible loss of Earth’s biodiversity. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment has clearly demonstrated the negative impact of rapid and irrational exploitation of natural resources on the ecosystem functioning of the planet. As a result, the ability of the planet to provide the goods and services that we, and future generations, need for our well-being has been seriously and perhaps irreversibly jeopardized by past and current decisions and policies of human society.
While governments and people in general agree that protecting and maintaining our rich biological heritage is vital to our future, the challenges are great and the best solutions remain uncertain. All biologists, no matter their field of expertise, should heed the call to contribute to this important project. Research institutions should strive to provide scientifically-sound and biologically-relevant insights and answers to the many questions confronting human society. Effective conservation actions will require long-term commitment from a wide range of stakeholders, including scientists, policy makers, concerned citizens, and the general public. These commitments need to be integrated a different geographic scales, from one’s local neighborhood up to the global marketplace.
In order to enhance the capacity of biodiversity conservation in the Greater Mekong Subregion, the first Xishuangbanna International Symposium, held in January 1999, focused on “Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development”. This symposium was well attended by 180 delegates from 20 countries. The general goals and specific recommendations endorsed by the participants have led to a series of actions in the region over the last 10 years. These actions include the implementation of a biodiversity conservation corridors initiative, endorsed by the Asian Development Bank. While progress has been made, much work remains to be done. As proposed by the attending delegates, the Xishuangbanna International Symposium should become a regular platform bringing scholars from all over the world.
The Xishuangbanna International Symposium II to be held during 1-2 January 2009 will feature the major theme: “Biodiversity Conservation: Research imperatives for scientific institutions”. The aims of this symposium are to review the progress made by scientific institutions in biodiversity conservation, to anticipate future conservation scenarios with technology advancement, and to build closer linkages between science and action.
The symposium program will include three major sessions. Each session will feature four invited speakers followed by an open discussion among the speakers, the audience, and three additional panelists. We invite participants to contribute posters during the symposium.
Session 1 Biodiversity Conservation in the Era of Technology Advancement
With the rapid development of new technology such as high resolution satellite imagery, DNA Bar-coding, next-gen sequencing, super computing capacity, and the integration of global networks of long-term monitoring data, we have the opportunity to create powerful synthetic tools and predictive models. What will be the best strategy for implementing these new technologies and databases to conserve biodiversity?
Session 2 Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge for Biodiversity Conservation
Scientists generally enjoy using their own ‘language’ and often have difficulty expressing themselves in plain and simple terms, so that their important message can be easily understood by everyone. A great deal of valuable information, relevant to biodiversity conservation, remains locked up and hidden away in the academic literature. Additionally, policy makers in many countries often exclude scientists from the decision process, for various reasons. How can scientific institutions do a better job of communication and more directly influence the policy making process?
Session 3 Bringing Scientific Institutions into Action
Most applied conservation projects are carried out by NGOs, while scientists at research institutions assume these efforts are not appropriate for rigorous study. Often research projects are performed in parallel with applied projects with little interaction between the two. Mechanisms are required for the development and implementation of conservation programs that integrate both perspectives and approaches. How can scientific institutions become more actively involved in conservation actions?
This symposium will coincide with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Proceedings of the Xishuangbanna International Symposium II, including the presentations and subsequent discussions, will be published.
Detailed symposium program will be available later. Interested parties may inform us by sending back the registration form attached to the letter of invitation.
Contact the symposium organizer:
Ms. FANG Chunyan
Tel 0086 691 8715460 Fax 0086 691 8715070
Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, P. R. China