Germany pledges €500 mln at UN biodiversity talks
Germany on Wednesday pledged €500 million ($785 million) to help defend threatened forests and called on others to join its effort at a UN conference on biodiversity in Bonn.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country wanted to set down a "very clear marker" on attaining the UN's Millennium goal of braking biodiversity loss by 2010.
"The federal government, between 2009 and 2012, will earmark an additional amount of 500 million euros," Merkel told the meeting. "We want to use this money in those areas where forests and other ecosystems are under threat and to find quick solutions for conserving them."
From 2013, Germany will stump up half a billion annually, she promised, but added, "obviously, Germany cannot shoulder this enormous global burden alone."
The three-day "high-level" section of the conference is gathering 87 ministers, with the goal of crafting a new global deal on preserving Earth's wildlife. Some 6,000 representatives from 191 countries attended the meeting, launched 11 days earlier.
Participants at the conference are hoping to establish a road map towards negotiating, by 2010, an "Access and Benefit Sharing" regulatory framework governing access to genetic resources and sharing the benefits from their use.
The UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) was established at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Scientists say that species are becoming extinct at a dizzying rate - between 100 and 1,000 times the natural pace of extinction. One in four mammals, one bird in eight, one third of all amphibians and 70 percent of plants are under threat.
Development economist Pavan Sukhdev has handed the conference a preliminary report in which the lost of the benefits of biodiversity are put at $3.1 trillion a year, or six percent of the planet's gross national product.
Group of Eight environment ministers met in Kobe, Japan, earlier this week, issuing a joint statement acknowledging the fundamental importance of biodiversity and spelling out their support for the Millennium Development Goal of reaching a "significant reduction" in species loss by the end of this decade.
Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser praised Merkel for sending "a very strong and important signal" for reaching a strong agreement in Bonn. He called on other industrialised countries to pitch in, and estimated around €30 billion ($47.1 billion) a year were needed to finance the protection of ancient forests.