IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and Amphibian Survival Alliance Applaud 9th Annual World Congress of Herpetology Declaration
As amphibians and reptiles around the world face increasing threats to their survival, a group of 870 herpetologists from 57 countries have come together to urge immediate action on the climate crisis, which exacerbates the impacts of habitat destruction and fragmentation, disease, , invasive species and other threats. The IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and Amphibian Survival Alliance were among those groups with representatives at the 9th annual World Congress of Herpetology in New Zealand that signed the Aotearoa Climate Change Declaration.
“Striving for a positive future for amphibians and reptiles demands actions across the herpetological community—illuminating and understanding ongoing global environmental changes and finding meaningful ways to mitigate these threats to biodiversity,” said Helen Meredith, executive director of the Amphibian Survival Alliance. “ASA and ASG are committed to supporting all initiatives that promote understanding and action in the face of climate change. We applaud this declaration and the way it raises the bar for responsibilities and activities across our diverse community going forward.”
The declaration (DOWNLOAD) calls for an urgent international need to acknowledge the evidence for global climate change and to take immediate action to help save vulnerable species and habitats. It urges the international community, including all national governments, to mitigate the future impacts of the climate crisis. And it outlines the ways in which the World Congress of Herpetology itself will address this: by mitigating air travel through reputable and certified avenues; using low carbon energy and materials alternatives, local food and limiting meat and dairy; and vetting vendors to ensure transport, housing, food and other amenities are sustainable. It also includes a pledge to use scientific knowledge to increase protection for biodiversity in the context of climate change and wild places in a way that recognizes and engages indigenous and local economies.
“This declaration sends a clear message that the global herpetological community is committed to putting words into action to support the environment and local peoples,” said Ariadne Angulo, co-chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group. “Large-scale change is not attained at the individual level, but as communities. There is an urgent need to start thinking beyond the individual-centric mindset toward one of collectives that lead change, and this is a step in that direction.”
Many of the presentations made at the week-long World Congress of Herpetology described the impacts of climate change and other environmental changes on the health of amphibian and reptile populations. At least 40 percent of all amphibians are threatened by extinction, making them the most imperiled vertebrate group. Nearly one out of five species of reptile are threatened by extinction. Habitat destruction, pollution, unregulated use and trade of species, emerging infectious diseases, invasive species and climate change have pushed many species to the brink.
“There is an absolutely critical need for more awareness and action for global conservation efforts, and as a congress we have decided to take an important lead role in working towards this goal,” said Phil Bishop, who is the co-chair of the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and 9th World Congress of Herpetology director. “Our declaration following this conference reflects that urgency and we implore national government to take immediate action to prevent further losses of important species due to the impacts of climate change.”
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Photo: The variable harlequin toad (Atelopus varius) is a Critically Endangered species from Costa Rica and Panama. Its populations have been hit especially hard by emerging disease, which interacts with climate change in ways that scientists are still trying to understand. (Photo by Robin Moore/Global Wildlife Conservation)
Amphibian Survival Alliance
The Amphibian Survival Alliance (ASA) promotes the conservation of amphibians and their habitats through dynamic partnerships worldwide. ASA raises awareness of amphibians and their plight, and helps channel resources towards the implementation of vital conservation actions, as guided by the global Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. ASA works directly with the IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group and Amphibian Ark to achieve the shared vision “Amphibians thriving in nature”. ASA champions the extraordinary work of its partners to build a strong, collaborative future for amphibian conservation. Learn more at www.amphibians.org and www.synchronicityearth.org
The IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group
ASG provides the scientific foundation to inform effective amphibian conservation action around the world, stimulating, developing and conducting scientific research of the conservation status of amphibian biodiversity and informing the general public of amphibian conservation-related issues and priorities. https://www.iucn-amphibians.org/
Lindsay Renick Mayer
Global Wildlife Conservation