Tuesday, 19 Jul 2022  |  Reading time:  11 mins  | Read online

Biodiversity

This week, we’re putting the spotlight local strategies for supporting biodiversity.

As yet another record-breaking heatwave rocks much of the northern hemisphere, it is clear that the climate crisis has transitioned from a distant threat to lived reality.

The Sixth Mass Extinction refers to an ongoing extinction event of species as a result of human activity. The vast majority of these extinctions remain undocumented but the current rate of extinction of species is estimated to be up to 1,000 times higher than the natural underlying rate. A UN report ranks the 5 most harmful drivers of this change as (1) changes in land and sea use (such as intensive agriculture); (2) the direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5), invasive alien species.

Despite an increase in policies and actions to support biodiversity, indicators show that biodiversity loss has worsened in recent years. At the global level, none of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed by Parties to the CBD in 2010 have been fully achieved, indicating gaps in ambition and commitment.

While national policies often lag behind ambitious international commitments, Local governments are well placed to affect positive change in biodiversity management as they regulate interactions between land management and services for local communities. Dealing with conflicting demands for development and conservation can make prioritising biodiversity difficult. However as shown in some of today’s examples, there are ways to streamline biodiversity considerations into existing policy areas, and a range of options for effective local action that can both foster biodiversity and create co-benefits that serve communities.

Don't forget to check out our upcoming event for a deeper dive into planning for biodiversity:

Join us on Thursday 28 July as we discuss planning for biodiversity and creating green spaces in urban areas (Free for LGIU and VLGA members). Find out more and register here.

This week's featured content

Mainstreaming Biodiversity

By Alice Creasy, LGIU

This briefing explores what local government can do to enhance and protect the planet’s biodiversity, outlining the importance of biodiversity and defining what ‘mainstreaming biodiversity’ means.

It is clear that biodiversity continues to suffer catastrophic losses across the globe. In the past a loss of biodiversity has led to the collapse of some societies – such as during the Irish potato famine – and, with rates of decline faster than ever before, humans are steering the planet towards an unprecedented breakdown of natural systems. One strategy that has been proposed in an attempt to counter this decline is ‘mainstreaming biodiversity’. In a recent report published by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe), mainstreaming biodiversity was defined as;

‘integrating actions or policies on biodiversity into broader development processes such as sustainable development, poverty reduction, and climate change adaptation/mitigation, as well as trade and international cooperation. The concept also applies to sector-specific plans such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, mining, energy, tourism and transport.’

So how can local governments begin to do this?

LGIU Global Local Highlights

 

Swift Read: Valuing priceless things – the economics of biodiversity

A landmark UK Treasury report 'The Economics of Biodiversity' argued that GDP is an obsolete measure of long-run societal success, stating: ‘the solution starts with understanding and accepting a simple truth: our economies are embedded within Nature, not external to it’. This briefing draws out the key messages for local government and public services.
Click here to read this briefing.

Urban wetlands for liveability, biodiversity and fighting climate change

This briefing looks at how the provision of green infrastructure, including urban waterways and wetlands, can both stimulate the economy through ‘building back greener’ at the same time as helping to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Click here to read this briefing.

Ecological connectivity: linking city & nature

This case study looks at the Ecological Connectivity Framework developed by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, in partnership with the City of Melbourne and other partners. The framework provides councils with a way to understand & plan for the current ecological connectivity of their municipalities – a measure of an animal’s ability to move freely across the landscape.
Click here to read this briefing.

What is the Local Government Information Unit?
We are a non-profit, non-partisan organisation for anyone with a passion for local democracy and finding local solutions to global challenges.
Click here to find out more about Global Local from LGIU

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

Cheonggyecheon is now a 10.9-kilometre-long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea.

South Korea: Waterway restoration improves biodiversity and tourism 

Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Cheonggyecheon river restoration project revitalized a waterway previously covered by a congested, polluted highway overpass (while the underpass was a derelict crime hotspot). The project involved extensive engagement with local communities, research groups and public-private players – over 20,000 people were involved in consultations. The project secured flood protection, increased overall biodiversity by 639%, reduced the urban heat island effect and lowered small-particle air pollution by 35%. To avoid elevated congestion from its removal, it was replaced by a series of smaller bridges over the river, including pedestrian-only bridges, and rapid bus services were introduced. Thanks to the restoration, the area now attracts 60,000 visitors a day. Land values have also increased by 25-50%, catalysing huge further investment.
World Economic Forum

Costa Rica: Granting citizenship to wildlife in the “Sweet City” 

Curridabat, a municipal division of San José, Costa Rica, has granted citizenship to its pollinators, trees and native plants while declaring itself a sanctuary for bees. The city moved to expand its definition of what it counts as citizens, recognising pollinators as “city dwellers” and “native inhabitants” due to their importance to the ecosystem, food production and human life. This in turn led to a change of mindset when it came to the suburb’s urban planning – with the protection of nature now seen as a priority in Curridabat’s urban development planning and green spaces thought of as a key part of its infrastructure. Now, the municipality (also known as the “Sweet City”) views itself as San Jose’s intercity biocorridor, with the ecosystem delivering benefits to residents including air pollution reduction and tree canopy shading to tackle urban heat.​​
The Guardian

Scotland: Perth and Kinross Council create nation’s first two biodiversity villages

Working through regional partnership Tayside Biodiversity Project, Perth & Kinross Council have established Scotland’s first two biodiversity villages. The projects have seen local communities, groups, and schools participate in a variety of biodiversity projects and events, such as mapping and training sessions. Some of the projects under the village scheme do not cost anything and or can be tied to existing council initiatives. Outside of the villages, the council is working with neighbouring farmers and landowners to plan tree and hedge planting and create B-Lines for pollinators – ‘insect pathways’ that link existing wildlife areas while creating brand new habitat. Their website includes information on protected species, targeted resources, progress updates and ways to get involved.
Tayside Biodiversity

Policy & Resources

Guide: The Local Action for Biodiversity Guidebook: Biodiversity Management for Local Governments 
ICLEI and IUCN provide a thorough guide to local government’s role in biodiversity protection. Areas covered include how to improve capacity through mainstreaming and partnerships, conservation mechanisms and management and communication and participation. Case studies, diagrams and main points of interest dotted throughout to make for engaging reading. 

Technical paper: Natural asset and biodiversity valuation in cities
This resource from the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC), provides a step-by-step guide to natural capital accounting. To inform the development of cities’ natural capital accounts, the technical paper provides an introduction to natural capital accounting, including the key components, tools and methods, alongside resources for estimating economic values of ecosystem services and key lessons.

Guide: Climate Risk Assessment for Ecosystem-based Adaptation A guidebook for planners and practitioners
Ecosystem-based Adaptation is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services for the purpose of climate change adaption. The approach is recognised as cost-effective and generates co-benefits. This publication from the IUCN provides guidance on how to systematically consider ecosystem-based solutions in the context of climate risk assessments, demonstrating how to identify suitable measures, perform related spatial planning, undertake risk assessment, monitoring and evaluation.

Case Studies: Cities and Biodiversity: Canadian Best Practices in Local Biodiversity Management
As part of ICLEI’s work on urban biodiversity management, this collection of 11 Canadian case studies highlight local governments’ contributions to sustainable use of biodiversity and policies that support its conservation. 

Thanks for reading!

Next week we’ll be celebrating Global Local’s first birthday with a special edition. 

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