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

 

Timor-Leste: UN Agencies Support Response In Wake Of Deadly Floods

United Nations agencies in Timor-Leste are supporting response efforts, as floods and landslides left widespread damage across the country, including in the capital, Dili. According to media reports, at least 21 people died in the country and many ... More>>

Myanmar: Stop ‘Widespread Violence’ Against Children, UN Officials Urge

Senior United Nations officials on Thursday strongly condemned the ongoing violence by Myanmar’s security forces against civilians, including children, as the members of the Security Council expressed alarm at the rapidly deteriorating situation in ... More>>

COVID-19 Origins Report Inconclusive: We Must ‘Leave No Stone Unturned’ – WHO Chief

The report from a team of international scientists assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) to examine how COVID-19 first spread to humans was published on Tuesday, and was described by the UN health agency’s chief as a welcome start, ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

How Can We Vaccinate The World? Five Challenges Facing The UN-Backed COVAX Programme

The aim of the UN-backed COVAX scheme is to get two billion vaccine doses into the arms of around a quarter of the population of poorer countries by the end of 2021. What are the main challenges that need to be overcome, if this historic global effort ... More>>

Department Of Global Communications: UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ Message For World Health Day 2021

5 APRIL 2021 As COVID-19 Reveals Immoral Inequities in Health System, Secretary-General Observance Message Calls for Applying Policies, Assigning Resources to Ensure Everyone Thrives Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World ... More>>


Global Development: Responding To COVID-19 Pandemic, Young People Advocate For Bold Solutions

From climate action to addressing inequalities and building peace, youth leaders scale up efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 7 to 8 April 2021 Follow on UN Web TV Youth leaders, activists and youth-led organizations around the world ... More>>