Biodiversity loss is one of the world's most pressing crises, and there is a growing global concern about the status of the biological resources on which so much of human life depends. It has been estimated that the current species extinction rate is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than it would be naturally.
The Mediterranean is a mosaic of natural and cultural landscapes that has led to the evolution of remarkable species. The Mediterranean flora is outstanding, with between 15,000 and 25,000 species, 60% of which are unique to the region. Besides this great richness of plants, a high proportion of Mediterranean animals are also endemic.
However, this natural wealth is subject to heavy pressures, causing severe environmental degradation. Species are disappearing, important habitats are being lost or degraded, and both terrestrial and marine ecosystems are destabilized because of pollution, the over-exploitation of resources, invasive alien species, human disturbances, and the increasing impact of climate change.
Sound scientific information is critical for guiding decision-makers and ensuring the sustainable and wise use of natural resources.
The Mediterranean Species Programme
The Mediterranean Species Programme aims at:
- Encouraging the development and availability of scientific data on Mediterranean species;
- Promoting regional conservation tools, especially Red Lists or Actions Plans, that can guide conservation actions;
- Building capacity on species conservation and management in the region; and
- Supporting the work of regional IUCN members and networks, such as the Species Survival Commission.
The Mediterranean Species Programme collaborates with numerous individuals and organizations in order to achieve these goals. Amongst its main partners are the IUCN Species Survival Commission and IUCN Specialist Groups, Conservation International, the CI Centre for Applied Biodiversity Science, the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the Barcelona Convention, BirdLife International, the Instituto Centrale per la Ricerca Applicata al Mare (ICRAM), the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), as well as several universities (Centro de Investigaçao em Biodiversidae e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do Porto (CIBIO/UP), American University of Beirut, Université d'Annaba, etc...).