On December 20, 2006 the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity.
The main goals of the International Year of Biodiversity are to:
- enhance public awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats to biodiversity;
- raise awareness of the accomplishments to save biodiversity that have already been realized by communities and governments;
- encourage individuals, organizations and governments to take action to reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss;
- promote innovative solutions to reduce the threats to biodiversity;
- start dialogue between stakeholders for the steps to be taken in the post-2010 period.
Biological diversity on Earth is essential to sustaining economic and social well-being of humanity therefore it becomes more and more acknowledged that biodiversity is a worldwide heritage of paramount importance for the present and future generations.
At the same time today, as never before, there is a great threat to the existence of species and ecosystems. Scientists speak about the beginning of the sixth mass extinction of biological species in the history of our planet. According to the most modest scientific estimate to date the biodiversity consists of 1.4 million species. According to the information of the International Union for the Protection of Nature 74 species and 86 subspecies of birds (1.23%) and 63 species and 44 subspecies of mammals (1.43%) disappeared from Earth between 1600 and 1975. Today over 7 thousand species of animals and nearly 60 thousand species of plants are threatened with extinction.
The Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force on 29 December 1993, i.e. on the ninetieth day after it had been ratified by thirty countries.
The Republic of Belarus ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1993.
The countries which are the Parties to the Convention should make efforts to introduce the endangered species, which in particular can be done by developing and implementing conservation-related plans and other strategies of rational use.
At present Red Data Books and Endangered Species Lists are most widely used instruments of conservation that are used in the sphere of nature protection worldwide for focusing attention on rare and endangered species. Today in the Republic of Belarus the third edition of the Red Data Book is in use. As a result of the employment of new universal approaches to the preparation of lists of species 189 species of animals and 274 species of plants were entered in the update list.
In our country Plan of activities to celebrate in 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity has been drawn up and approved by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus. Besides, the Ministry for Natural Resources and Nature Protection of the Republic of Belarus has issued a special order on the implementation of the Plan of activities to celebrate in 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity.
And yet the decisive role is to be played by humans themselves. The choice they make, although it might not be very wide, is an integral part of the powerful tool of fostering a sustainable environment. By careful selection of the foodstuffs that are purchased and supporting the corresponding Government strategies human activity can direct the world towards sustainable development. Governments, companies and other organizations and institutions are obliged to guide people and to keep them informed, but in the end it is still an individual choice made by milliards of people every day that has a decisive importance.
Activities to be held in Minsk
A great number of activities are dedicated to the Year of Bio diversity in our capital. They include exhibitions, actions, contests, public holidays to be held not only on the 22nd of May – the International Day of Biodiversity, but throughout the year of 2010. Institutions of education and culture, libraries, museums, cinemas Minsk City Zoo, public organizations, the city’s mass media and ecologists, of course, are participating in the celebrations of the International Year of Biodiversity. Besides, the annual All-Belarusian subbotnik will also to be dedicated to biological diversity.
A special exhibition dedicated to the International Day of Biodiversity is to be opened at the State Museum of Nature and Ecology. "Artel" Union painters have decided to dedicate their exhibition to the International Day of Protection of Animals. The exhibition is to be arranged at the Minsk Museum of Fine Arts under the name of "SOS". At the National Museum of Arts an exhibition of paintings to be named "Nesterov’s Squares and Rectangles" will be timed to coincide with the World Environment Day.
Minsk City Zoo invites children to a year-long festival "Ecology. Creative Work. Children" and to special events and contests dedicated to significant ecology conservation dates worldwide. On the occasion of the World Environment Day a special festive event, called "The beating heart of my Planet", is to be arranged for schoolchildren. The event is supposed to include a lot of different contests, quizzes and, definitely, prizes for the winners.
The doors of the city’s cinemas are open for those who would like to watch thematic chronicles and documentaries, newsreels and social trailers.
The wide spreading of the cow-parsnip (Heracleum) sosnowskyi on the territory of Minsk has been of big problem to the city. Supplanting natural biological species of vegetation this poisonous plant has spread over the territory of about 130 hectares. A Plan of measures for preventing the spreading of the cow-parsnip (Heracleum) sosnowskyi has been drawn up in Minsk in accordance with which in 2009 the corresponding organizations and institutions of the city carried out constant inspection over their territories.
In 2010 the Minsk City Committee for Natural Resources and Environment together with the public association Belarusian Republican Youth Union are going to carry out a joint action "Minsk is free of Heracleum sosnowskyi". Since it is a poisonous plant the action is to be carried out at the very beginning of its vegetation period, i.e. right after the snow melts and the first shoots appear.