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Formulating Global Biodiversity Standard For Nature-Based Solutions


Nature-based solutions are seen in the restoration of wetlands and forest ecosystems to their near-natural status, and in reviving the original populations of plant and animal species in maintaining the equilibrium in the food chain cycle and in the continuum of life’s processes.

By Salam Rajesh

The world community is currently in the process and negotiations for finding pathways to resolving many issues that are fundamentally seen as impacting negatively on the world’s diverse bio-resources and critical biological diversity that are vital in maintaining equilibrium in nature.

This concern forms the core of a new thought process that study authors Bartholomew and Mosyaftiani et al. (2024) have worked on as presented in the report “The Global Biodiversity Standard: Manual for Assessment and Best Practices (TGBS)”.

As is being emphasized by the authors, the TGBS is a ‘site-based global standard for nature-based solutions aimed at driving positive outcomes for biodiversity, ecosystems and the communities that rely on them’.

Developed by a coalition of global biodiversity experts, the TGBS seeks to ‘recognize and promote best practices in projects that aim at protecting, restoring and managing biodiversity sustainably’.

The TGBS measures changes to biodiversity and ecosystems caused by management interventions, recognizing that biodiversity-positive trajectories are possible no matter the different manner of land use across the globe.

Different forms of management interventions in the shape of human-vested interests in large-scale commercial plantations, cattle ranching, mineral exploration and exploitation, urbanization, industrial expansion, and infrastructural explosion primarily accounted for negative impacts on nature reserves and biodiversity-rich pockets around the globe.

In a broad nutshell, the TGBS has major goals of ‘helping to address biodiversity loss by assessing the impacts on biodiversity by site management practices and promoting a wide variety of restoration approaches from assisted natural regeneration to biodiverse tree plantings and other forms of intensively assisted recovery in forests and other natural ecosystems’.

The restoration of ‘biodiverse’ tree plantings is generally referred to as the restoration of native and endemic plant species in deviation from the common practice of introducing exotic and alien species in areas particularly those that are critical biodiversity-rich pockets such as the tropical rainforests, alpine meadows, savannahs, and mountain ecosystems.

The end objective of the TGBS appears in rhyme with the targets sought to be achieved by the year 2030 under the broad campaign of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), with hardly six years left for nations to realize their set goals, however impracticable it may sound under the current circumstances of wars and ethnic conflicts raging in many parts of the world.

The TGBS, moreover, is a site-based certification scheme that aims to ‘improve biodiversity outcomes throughout the full range of the restoration continuum, including restorative agricultural practices such as agroforestry, rehabilitation, and ecological restoration’.

Ecological restoration is deemed highly essential to help restore and regenerate springsheds that are vital in maintaining the environmental flows of mountain-originating rivers and in assisting in groundwater recharge of aquifers. In the long-term measure, this seeks to address climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and in sustainable livelihoods of local communities.

On this note, it may be worth reflecting that the TGBS seeks to reduce threats to biodiversity through different means, such as, targeted areas are planned or managed to bring the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance close to zero; 30 percent of degraded areas are under effective restoration; threatened species are recovering, genetic diversity is being maintained and human-wildlife conflict is being managed, and minimizing the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification including through nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based approaches.

Nature-based solutions are seen in the restoration of wetlands and forest ecosystems to their near-natural status, and in reviving the original populations of plant and animal species in maintaining the equilibrium in the food chain cycle and in the continuum of life’s processes.

An important aspect of the TGBS is the focus on reducing the rates in the intentional or unintentional introduction and establishment of invasive alien species by around 50 percent globally. Criteria 5 of the TGBS manual re-emphasizes the focus on avoiding and reducing invasive or potentially invasive species, particularly in biodiversity-rich protected areas.

The manual stresses on avoiding invasive and potentially invasive species in natural ecosystems, especially during planting and reintroduction processes, and where already present, the populations of the invasive alien species are reduced or eradicated substantively. It further underlines that invasive and potentially invasive species can both be non-native or native species, whereas, the proliferation of non-native species can threaten the near extinction of native species that are of food and medicinal value.

The TGBS further seeks to promote projects that help in halting and reversing declines in biodiversity, where the manual highlights that land-use changes, over-harvesting and extraction, pests and diseases, climate change, and the introduction of invasive species are leading to the destruction of the world’s biodiversity.

In suggesting possible tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming the targets sought to be achieved under the process, the manual promotes ensuring the active participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, women, youth, persons with disabilities, and environmental defenders across all sectors and areas of activities to achieve the set goals.

To ensure the objectivity of the process and in realizing substantial successes on the ground, the manual promoters opine that, a ‘standardized site-based assessment process is core to the TGBS and is carried out by regional biodiversity hubs, with rigorous certification criteria that require certified projects to present evidence of positive outcomes for biodiversity’.

The TGBS was developed by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), the Plan Vivo Foundation, TRAFFIC, the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry Centre (CIFOR-ICRAF), and Ecosia.

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