Genetic diversity is overlooked in international conservation policy implementation
Biomedical and Life Sciences
The importance of genetic variation for maintaining biological diversity and evolutionary processes has been recognized by researchers for decades. This realization has prompted agreements by world leaders to conserve genetic diversity, and this is an explicit goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Nevertheless, very limited action has been taken to protect genetic diversity on a global scale. International conservation efforts to halt biodiversity loss focus on habitats and species, whereas little or no attention is paid to gene level variation. By this year, 2010, world leaders have agreed that a significant reduction of the rate of biodiversity loss should have been achieved. However, gene level diversity is still not monitored, indicators that can help identify threats to genetic variation are missing, and there is no strategy for how genetic aspects can be included in biodiversity targets beyond 2010. Important findings and conclusions from decades of conservation genetic research are not translated into concrete conservation action in the arena of international policy development. There is an urgent need for conservation geneticists worldwide to become involved in policy and practical conservation work beyond the universities and research institutions.