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We are celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity

2014-05-22

Since 1992, when Lithuania signed in the city of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which was ratified by the Seimas on 22 May 1995, we have been celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity.

The United Nations General Assembly has declared this year as the International Year of Small Island Developing States; therefore, the theme chosen for the International Day for Biological Diversity 2014 is island biodiversity. In 2013, this day was devoted to water and biodiversity, 2012 – to marine biodiversity, and 2011 – to forest biodiversity.

Lithuania drafted and approved in 1998 the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan, which became the first document intended for the integrated assessment of activities and environmental conditions that have an effect on biological diversity as a whole and its condition. The analysis of the problems carried out in the Strategy highlighted the key factors that have an impact on the condition of Lithuanian biological diversity and biological resources. The main issues in the field of conservation of biological diversity were identified. The levels of conservation and priority and other conservation objectives were established in the framework of the Strategy objectives.

The preparation of the National Biodiversity Study, which has to assess the lists of species of our plants, fungi and animals, served as an important goal for further work. Although the Lithuanian scientific institutions have accomplished many things in this field, however, a detailed inventory of invertebrate animals and plants was made only during the preparation of the study on invertebrate species. For a number of years, the Institute of Botany of the Nature Research Centre has conducted research on fungi found in Lithuania and published large publications summarising this subject.
Currently, the biological diversity in Lithuania includes 2,500 animal species, 1,800 plant species and 6,100 fungi species. These lists will be supplemented as research studies are further continued. A major focus is placed on the research, registration and conservation of the species, breeds and other systematic units of cultural plants and livestock.

Biodiversity does change over time. More than 500 species out of 1,800 plant species in Lithuania are not local. Some alien plants, ecologically aggressive water invertebrates and predators tend to spread rapidly. The issue of invasive species is urgent in the whole world. The Ministry of Environment implements projects aimed at regulating the abundance of the most ecologically aggressive invasive species such as mongoose, mink, spiny-cheek crayfish, Chinese sleeper, large-leaved lupine, Manitoba maple and Sosnowskyi’s hogweed.

In terrestrial ecosystems, specialist species exploiting narrow ecological niches and natural habitats are on a fast track to extinction. They are susceptible to change in agricultural and forestry technologies (activity intensification or termination of traditional extensive land use). Changes in the use of territories increase the fragmentation of natural habitats and local populations of species and aggravate the conditions for the migration of species and exchange of genetic information between isolated local populations, and thus, this causes a threat to their survival. The endangered species and natural habitats in water ecosystems are mainly affected by water pollution and change in hydrological regime, irrational use of natural resources and disruption of migratory routes.

In Lithuania, the conservation of biological diversity has deep-rooted traditions both at the national and international levels. At the national level, the conservation of biological diversity is directly regulated by the Law on Wild Flora, the Law on Wild Fauna, the Law on Protected Animal, Plant and Fungi Species and other legal acts that directly or indirectly regulate environmental protection and the use of natural resources. To protect species and communities, the lists of protected species and the Red List of Lithuania are drawn up, protected areas are established, and various environmental programmes are implemented.

On 24 May, the events of the International Day for Biological Diversity will be held in the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University in Kairėnai. Everybody who considers the biological diversity in the whole world to be precious and vital is kindly invited to attend the events.

Public Information Division
22 May 2014

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas