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Fundación Biodiversidad: 20 years of nature conservation
Yesterday, Fundación Biodiversidad celebrated its 20th birthday. Spain's first and only public foundation with the aim of conserving the country's natural heritage and biodiversity, it is dedicated to the conservation of the natural environment, acting against climate change and promoting a green economy.
It started life in 1998 as the Institute of Environmental Studies and celebrated its 20th birthday in its new headquarters in Madrid - built using sustainable materials and to maximise energy efficiency - by highlighting its achievements and looking to the future.
Since its launch two decades ago, Fundación Biodiversidad has been involved in over 2000 individual projects and has led 11 major European multi-stakeholder programmes, which have brought in over 77€ million for biodiversity conservation in Spain. In total, the foundation has invested over 300€ million in the environment. It is currently coordinating the biggest ever European marine conservation project - LIFE Intemares - a 50€ million project that has managed to fulfil an international commitment to protect over 10% of a country's marine surface area - Spain's protected area now extends to 13%.
At yesterday's celebratory presentation, Director Sonia Castañeda summed up the foundation's work over the past 20 years by underlining her team's onging dedication to "keeping the planet blue and green".
Others spoke of the foundation's work in safeguarding some of Spain's most emblematic species like the bearded vulture, the brown bear (pictured), the imperial eagle, and the Iberian lynx.
Francisco Villaespesa, director of the El Acebuche lynx breeding centre, expressed his hope that "in another 20 years' time the lynx population will have doubled in the wild (from 600 to 1200)" and that other regions like Castilla y Leon, Madrid or Murcia will have enough wild lynx "that breeding centres will no longer be needed".
"After 20 years our situation is better than we thought it would be", said Guillermo Palomero of the Fundación Oso Pardo (Borwn Bear Foundation), who added that his hope and goal for the next ten years was to see "stable populations of brown bears, living safely and harmoniously with their rural neighbours".
Asunción Ruiz of SEO Birdlife, talked about the success stories they had had, but also pointed out that "we are losing biodiversity and we need to see the issue addressed with the same force and urgency as climate change". She pointed out that although some of Spain's most emblematic species were perhaps not as endangered now as in the past, "we are losing everyday creatures like sparrows and swallows".
The celebrations also included a video presentation by Edward Osborne Wilson, one of the most world's most prominent scientists, who emphasised that Spain is "Europe's richest country in terms of biodiversity" and is "geographically unique".
The grand finale came from the president of Fundación Biodiversidad and the Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera. The minister said it was "time to value the importance of the richness of Spain's biodiversity and to express our clear and renewed dedication to put nature in the position it deserves, as one the cornerstones of our development and wellbeing".
Ribera also confirmed Spain's presence at the forthcoming Convention on Biological Diversity Conference (COP 14), which will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh (Egypt) from November 17th to 29th, and gave assurances that Spain would follow the path laid down in the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity and the Aichi Targets as well as the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. "After 2020, the framework needs to be transparent and inclusive, with appropriate and amibitious goals that can be measured and that have definite timescales that make the most of and reinforce the current Aichi goals", said Ribera.
Photo credit: Fundación Oso Pardo
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