World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Seagrass declining worldwide, threatening wildlife

Seagrass declining worldwide, threatening wildlife - UN environment agency

Some 15 per cent of the entire world's seagrass has been lost in the past 10 years, putting at greater risks already threatened manatees and sea turtles, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) said today.

In a press release issued in London and Nairobi, UNEP said the seagrass meadows were being diminished by "runoff of nutrients and sediments from human activities on land, boating, land reclamation and other construction in the coastal zone, dredge-and-fill activities and destructive fisheries practices."

The findings were published Monday in the World Atlas of Seagrasses, prepared by UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). The agency estimates that the total area of seagrass meadows is now about 177,000 square kilometres, an area just two-thirds the size of the United Kingdom.

"We now have a global, scientific view of where seagrasses occur and what is happening to them," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director. "Unfortunately, the scientists have presented us with a worrying story. In many cases, these vitally important undersea meadows are being needlessly destroyed for short-term gain without a true understanding of their significance."

Seagrasses are a mixed group of true flowering plants - not seaweed - that grow submerged in large meadows in both tropical and temperate seas. According to UNEP, besides manatees and sea turtles, thousands more associated marine plant and animal species utilize seagrass habitat.

According to the new Atlas, seagrass meadows should be considered one of the most important shallow marine ecosystems to humans, playing a vital role in fisheries, protecting coral reefs by binding sediments, cleaning coastal waters and providing coastal defence from erosion.

"Seagrass beds have been needlessly destroyed for short-term gain without real analysis of the values that the intact ecosystems bring to coastal society," said Mark Collins, Director of UNEP-WCMC. "Physically they protect coastlines from the erosive impact of waves and tides, chemically they play a key role in nutrient cycles for fisheries and biologically they provide habitat for fish, shellfish and priority ecotourism icons like the dugong, manatee and green turtle. And yet, despite these important attributes, they have been overlooked by conservationists and coastal development planners throughout their range."


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


UN News: Landmark G7 Agreement Pledges 870 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Doses, Half By End-2021

A senior UN official welcomed on Sunday, the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations’ commitment to immediately share at least 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, supporting global access and helping to end the acute phase of the pandemic... More>>



OECD: G20 GDP Returns To Pre-pandemic Level In The First Quarter Of 2021, But With Large Differences Across Countries

Gross domestic product (GDP) of the G20 area returned to pre-pandemic level in the first quarter of 2021, growing by 0.8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. However, this figure conceals large differences across countries... More>>

Myanmar: ‘Mass Deaths’ Alert As 100,000 Flee Junta’s Heavy Weapons

In Myanmar, international action is needed urgently to prevent “mass deaths” there, after civilians fled attacks by so-called “junta bombs”, a top independent UN rights expert has warned... More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs


UN: Tackling Biodiversity & Climate Crises Together And Their Combined Social Impacts

Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined and increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world... More>>


G7: No Major G7 Stock Index Aligned With Paris Climate Goals

New research by CDP and the United Nations Global Compact on behalf of the Science Based Targets initiative calls on the largest G7 companies to take ambitious climate action... More>>


Report: Universal Access To Sustainable Energy Will Remain Elusive Without Addressing Inequalities

During the last decade, a greater share of the global population gained access to electricity than ever before, but the number of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa actually increased... More>>