At the United Nations' Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, they managed to agree on global goals for the protection of biodiversity. Montreal was a continuation of the meeting in Kunming, China, which I wrote about earlier. The agreement and its goals are a similar and equally significant institution as the Paris climate agreement, and its numerically defined goal of protecting 30% of the earth's land surface and 30% of the seas can be considered a concrete and measurable goal similar to the maximum 1.5 degree increase in global average temperature agreed in Paris. In institutions concerned with the environment, it is very important to define exactly the kind of goals that are measurable, otherwise we are often left with only festive speeches without concrete actions to protect the environment. Precisely defined goals, principles and indicators are needed.
Biodiversity has been left behind in the climate change debate, even though biodiversity is just as important as climate. However, loss of nature is an environmental problem that has been awakened to in recent years. Species and ecosystems are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. We are talking about an extinction wave. The reason is human activity and especially land use. Man uses too much of the earth's surface for his own purposes. Our ecological footprint is far too large. The biggest reasons for the destruction of habitats and ecosystems are the procurement of human food and raw materials, agriculture, forestry and mining. Deforestation and felling, as well as clearing fields to feed beef cattle, destroy biodiversity, as do mines, which require a huge surface area and practically destroy the ecosystem completely in open pit mines.
The ecological footprint of a Finn is more than 7 hectares, this means that to produce the food and natural resources necessary for the life of one Finn, an area of 700 m x 100 m is required from the earth's productive surface. The biocapacity, i.e. the sustainable level, would be 1.6 ha, so if all the people on earth lived, like the Finns, more than 4 earths would be needed. The global average is 2.6 ha. American's ecological footprint is even more than 8 ha. As the world's population and economy grow, so does the ecological footprint. However, the surface of the earth is finite, and it cannot stand endless growth, but the limits always come up at some point. When humans take over an area, the living space of other species shrinks. We are taking space from the rest of nature, and way too much. The failure of the Montreal agreement was that the goal of halving humanity's ecological footprint was not achieved. However, increasing protected areas prevents the current ecological footprint from growing excessively.
Humans use about half of nature's gross basic production, i.e. new plant growth, i.e. new phytomass. This is a huge amount. Humans have destroyed half of the world's forests, as well as all living biomass. From this it can be estimated that humans have probably destroyed almost half of all living species in the world.
Ecosystem services are services provided by nature, such as the circulation of water and nutrients, maintenance of climate stability and pollination of food plants. These maintain not only natural ecosystems but also the entire human society. Without ecosystem services, we have no clean drinking water and no food. Biodiversity is connected to ecosystem services: the greater the biodiversity, the better ecosystem services function and produce. High biodiversity also makes ecosystems more resistant to external threats.
In the Montreal Agreement, an important decision was to protect about a third of the Earth's surface, because biodiversity depends on the size of the protected area. In addition to quantity, quality is also important. That's why restoration is important. Protected areas must not only be large, but also good in terms of internal diversity and quality.
About 17% of the Earth's surface area is currently protected. Now this sector is doubling and has a significant impact on the protection of biodiversity. About 14% of Finland's surface area is protected, mostly the wilderness of Northern Finland. It is also essential where to protect, because it is important to protect rare biotopes, species and ecosystems. For example, in southern Finland, biotopes and ecosystems are completely underprotected. The Montreal Convention goes hand in hand with the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the Restoration Regulation. Plants and animals need a home, the forest is their home, the nature reserve is their home. Without a home, they are homeless and in danger of disappearing. So let's protect life and its survival into the future.