UN-backed talks focus on bolstering biodiversity in Latin America and Caribbean

26 August 2010 – Ways to address challenges to biodiversity conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean – which is home to up to 70 per cent of all forms of life on Earth – were the focus of a gathering organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) this week.

The region, the most biologically diverse in the world, holds more than 40 per cent of the planet’s bird species, as well as numerous species of migratory birds and aquatic life, such as sharks, whales and dolphins.

However, these species are under threat by fisheries, their habitats are being degraded and their wetlands drained for farming.

The three-day gathering, which wrapped up yesterday in Panama City, aimed to identify ways to coordinate actions to better conserve the rich biodiversity of the region.

Hosted by UNEP and its Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the event brought together representatives from governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The region also hosts some of the world’s most important wetlands, including Amazonia and Pantanal, and the conservation of migratory species and their wetland habitats requires cooperation among governments, NGOs and others at the global level, according to UNEP.

In particular, the Gulf of Mexico coast is a critical habitat for hundreds of migratory bird species, which use the area to breed, spend their winter, refuel and rest on their long journeys.

However, in the wake of the recent devastating oil spill in the area, countless fish, along with more than 6,000 birds, 1,000 sea turtles and 80 marine mammals, were found dead.

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