By Connor Fitzpatrick
A panel of biodiversity experts gathered on Tuesday, May 28, at the Presidio Officers’ Club to discuss the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES), a worldwide assessment on biodiversity, in front of an audience of approximately 150 people.
Rebecca Johnson, co-director of “citizen science” at the California Academy of Sciences, moderated the discussion. Panel members included Dr. Anne Larigauderie, the executive secretary of IPBES; Dr. Jean-Francois Silvain, president of the Foundation for Research in Biodiversity (FRB); Lewis Stringer, associate director of Natural Resources at the Presidio Trust; and professor Dr. Justin Brashares.
The event began with opening remarks from Michael Boland, Presidio Trust’s chief of park development and operations. Boland explained the significance of such an event being held within the Presidio. Due to the Presidio’s status as a national park inside of a major city, Boland heralded the park as “an experiment for 21st century biodiversity.”
Boland went on to explain the Presidio Trust’s efforts to promote biodiversity in the park, “The Presidio Trust has restored derelict army landfills to ecologically fit acreage” as well as to “reintroduce 10 native species” to the park’s grounds.
Johnson asked the panel to begin its discussion on how biodiversity is shrinking on a global scale: “What can people in cities do to help promote biodiversity?”
Larigauderie responded that it could be as mundane as people watching what they eat through the reduction of pesticides and striving to promote organic and local produce.
Silvain said that changes in behavior could help to change humanity’s effect on biodiversity,
“We must think of mitigating climate change by how we coexist with nature,” Silvain said.
Stringer added that the loss in biodiversity could be solved by humanity. He went on to advocate for volunteerism in local communities, stating that there is “a spiritual renewal that comes from volunteering.”
Johnson then opened the discussion to questions from the audience.
“What advice do you have for candidates when discussing biodiversity and climate change?”
Larigauderie responded that political candidates “need to have detailed plans and models to better promote biodiversity.” Brashares offered that nature conservation has become a partisan issue and that it must become a duty that is shared among all humanity.
“The Golden Rule is to think about our footprint. We must strive for coexistence with nature through cultivating dense human areas and allowing for more green space,” Brashares said.