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IBOY: Core Projects

What goods and services does biodiversity provide?

Biodiversity: Its Importance to Human Health

The world’s major medical and environmental organizations are coming together for the first time to address the connections between the health of humans and biodiversity loss.

The destruction of tropical rainforests may foreclose the discovery of medicines from plants. However, there has been little attempt to cover the full, complex range of consequences for human health from species loss and ecosystem disruption. To address this need, the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard Medical School organized a conference at the American Museum of Natural History in 1998, "The Value of Plants, Animals, and Microbes to Human Health," in collaboration with the Museum, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Fogarty International Center at the US National Institute of Healthy (NIH). As a result of this conference, the Center, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNEP agreed to be partners in an assessment of "Biodiversity and Human Health," in which leading scientists and health professionals from around the world will compile 'state of the art' knowledge about the importance of other species to human health and produce a report for the United Nations. The assessment will contribute to the Millennium Assessment and to the deliberations of the Convention on Biodiversity, so that human health can inform its policy decisions.

In August 1999, an initial meeting was held at Harvard Medical School and project was officially launched in December 1999 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, attended by chairs and co-chairs of its seven working groups, and representatives from the WHO, UNEP, the World Conservation Union, the World Conservation Monitoring Center, the World Bank, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and other interested parties.

During 2001 and 2002 the working groups will meet and collaborate to synthesize collated information and write the report. The final report "Biodiversity: Its Importance to Human Health" will be presented to the United Nations in September 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Four other projects will be developed from the project, including an executive summary to be distributed to policymakers, a book written for a public audience (to be published in 2003), a technical report written for scientists (to published on line in 2003), and a chapter for the report of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (to be published in 2004).

Recent and upcoming activities:

October 26- 31 2001, Tarrytown, New York , USA - Working meeting of Chapter Chairs, science writer, publisher and supporting organizations to review chapter draft and plan details of final book to be published in 2003.

November 12, 2001, Montreal, Canada - Project formally presented to the plenary session of SBSTTA-7 meetings of the Convention of Biological Diversity, introducing human health as a cross-cutting issue before the convention. The WHO, as a result of the project requested that it provide input to the Convention on the health impacts of biodiversity loss.

September 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa - Report released to the United Nations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

-- Eric Chivian, Robert Bos

Biodiversity 911: Saving Live on Earth (website)

Biodiversity 911: Saving Life on Earth is a lively exhibition that will travel to science centers, natural history museums, children's museums, zoos, and aquariums across the United States and Canada from 2001 through 2004. This exhibition tells the important story of biodiversity using science, humor, and creativity. Developed by World Wildlife Fund and designed by Jeff Kennedy Associates, Inc., this innovative hands-on exhibition breaks down the complex topic of biodiversity and its interactions with human society into the visitor friendly concepts of what biodiversity is, why it is declining, and how we can help protect it.

The exhibition's centerpiece is the Biodiversity Theater, an introductory presentation that features an entertaining film produced by Aardman Animations (the Academy Award-winning creators of the claymation characters Wallace and Gromit and the feature-length film Chicken Run). Using engaging dialogue and a creative documentary format based in a hospital emergency room, a live-action doctor interacts with animated "patients" to explore biodiversity issues including habitat loss, pollution, and wildlife trade.

Six interactive exhibit areas, based on characters from the film, enable visitors to learn more about biodiversity by exploring exhibits such as a colorful crawl-through coral reef, a scrolling rain forest tree, and a larger-than-life clump of soil. In the tree area, visitors can explore the many animals and plants that live in a native forest and also examine effects of large-scale deforestation on forest diversity. In the marine diversity area kids can use a computer interactive to learn about shopping for sustainably harvested fish and alternative fishing methods that protect sea life. A "Difference of One" computer kiosk encourages visitors to think about personal changes they can make to help protect the Earth's incredible diversity-from a local to global scale. The Wild World mapping kiosk, based on a WWF/National Geographic partnership, allows visitors to learn about diverse ecoregions around the world. A music video by the popular environmental singer/songwriter Billy B. encourages movement and interaction while exposing younger visitors to some of the key ideas associated with biodiversity.

Two copies of the exhibition will begin traveling in June 2001. In 2002 the Aardman Animations film, created as part of the exhibition, will be broadcast worldwide by the Television Trust for the Environment.

--Judy Braus

Catalog of the wild relatives of the world's crops

The wild relatives of the world's crops have evolved over a long period of time and have co-evolved with pests and diseases. They make enormously important contributions to plant improvement and genetic material from them is essential for the breeding of new and enhanced cultivars for the world's crops and thereby are essential for maintaining food security. They are a priority group for conservation, both in situ and ex situ, and sustainable use.

Information on the identity, distribution, and availability of germplasm of the wild relatives of the world's crops is both seriously incomplete and uneven. As part of a project funded by UNEP and GEF entitled 'In situ Conservation of Wild Relatives through Enhanced Information Management and Field Application' information on the names, distribution, ecology, conservation status, and breeding relationships of the wild relatives of crops in Armenia, Bolivia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan is being collected. The International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) is the lead international agency responsible for coordinating this project, in association with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), DIVERSITAS, the World Conservation Union-IUCN, and the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC).

For IBOY, it is hoped that the database and information system developed under the above project data on the relatives of wild crops from the five countries can be adapted to create a global system with inputs from other countries around the world, collating data that is currently available nationally, regionally, and from international organizations. Development of such a global database would help apply the conservation lessons learned from those five countries to many more countries.

--Vernon Heywood

FLUXNET: The metabolic diversity of terrestrial ecosystems (website)

FLUXNET is a global network of over 180 sites that is continuously measuring ecosystem fluxes of CO2, water vapor and energy to provide a measure of the functional diversity of ecosystems.

The fluxes of carbon dioxide, water vapor and energy, comprised of an ecosystems metabolism, catabolism and transpiration, can be considered the 'breathing' of ecosystems and can be measured at timescales from micro-seconds to centuries.

Over the last decades of the 20th century the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere have experienced much change. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen, there is accumulating evidence that the temperatures of the Earth's surface and atmosphere are rising, and the composition of the land surface has changed dramatically including urbanization, deforestation and wetland draining. Linkages between climate and biosphere functioning are complex and interdependent, but understanding them will be key to assessing how changes to the biosphere affect the atmosphere and to predicting future global change. Collecting and analyzing this data will provide valuable information on the diversity (temporal and spatial variability) of ecosystem metabolism, including:

  • the metabolic patterns of individual ecosystems
  • the differences between different ecosystems
  • and how ecosystem metabolism is controlled by biotic and abiotic factors

FLUXNET is a global network of long-term micrometeorological flux measurement sites. FLUXNET has several primary functions which focus on measuring and interpreting the exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapor and energy between the biosphere and the atmosphere. At present over 180 sites are operating on a continuous basis. Vegetation under study includes temperate conifer and broadleaved forests, tropical and boreal forests, crops, grasslands, chaparral, wetlands and tundra. Sites exist on five continents and their latitudinal distributions range from 70 degrees north to 30 degrees south.

FLUXNET has several primary functions. First, it provides infrastructure for compiling, archiving and distributing carbon, water and energy flux measurement, meteorological, plant and soil data to the science community. Second, the project supports calibration and flux inter-comparison activities. This activity ensures that data from the regional networks are inter-comparable. And thirdly, FLUXNET supports the synthesis, discussion and communication of ideas and data by supporting project scientists, workshops and visiting scientists. The overarching goal is to provide information for validating computations of net primary productivity, evaporation and energy absorption that are being generated by sensors mounted on the NASA TERRA satellite.

The studies will provide a measure of functional diversity at the ecosystem level. Furthermore, since the collective behavior of these diverse ecosystems is responsible for much more steady and robust global patters such as atmospheric CO2 concentration, ultimately this project will provide important information towards understanding biotic controls on global meteorological and biogeochemical processes.

During 2001 and 2002, FLUXNET will:

  • build capacity for analyzing ecosystem metabolism by establishing infrastructure for guiding, collecting and disseminating long term measurements of CO2, water, and energy exchange, and environmental, solid, and plant canopy variables from a dispersed array of regional flux networks, inter-calibrating flux measure systems among the networks.
  • provide add-on value to individual research stations and the data they produce by collaborating to use flux and environmental data acquired within the framework of FLUXNET to address large-scale questions. For example, to test and validate ecosystem models and to draw generalizations relating to the control of carbon and energy fluxes by climate, vegetation, and substrate.
  • sponsor international meetings to synthesize the results from the Long Term Flux Measurement sites.
  • develop datasets of long-term carbon and water fluxes and distribute them to the scientific community via the www.
  • publish the results as a special issue of the scientific journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology and in other scientific publications.

Specific activities and findings include:

November, 2001:
The first FLUXNET findings were published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. They included:

  • Gross primary productivity of forests may not be constant but may depend on plant architecture, photosynthetic capacity and the amount of sunlight absorbed
  • Stand age effects carbon dioxide and water vapor flux densities
  • For broadleaved deciduous forests: unifying controls of carbon exchange may exist including:
    • Carbon net ecosystem exchange strongly depends on length of growing season forests increasing by about 5.7 g C m-2 day-1 for each additional day that the growing season is extended
    • In temperate regions carbon exchange is sensitive to perturbations such as droughts and early thawing.
    • Light response curves for canopy-scale CO2 exchange varies with cloud cover across biomes since cloud cover alters the quality of the incoming sunlight and greater levels of diffuse irradiance penetrate deeper levels inside forest canopies. This may be a crucial finding, as there is emerging evidence that the global atmosphere is becoming more turbid, and hence greater levels of diffuse irradiance may be reaching the surface, with potential for changing light response curves of canopy CO2 exchange.
    • Temperature response curves for canopy-scale CO2 also exhibit plasticity and the optimal temperature for CO2 exchange varies with mean summer temperature and therefore is different for similar forest functional types in Europe and North America.
  • For Coniferous forests: conclusions are not as unifying: seasonal and annual sums of carbon sequestration for boreal, semi-arid, temperate and humid conifers differ among one-another and for different physiological reasons.

For more information see: Baldocchi, D. et al. (2001). FLUXNET: A New Tool to Study the Temporal and Spatial Variability of Ecosystem-Scale Carbon Dioxide, Water Vapor, and Energy Flux Densities. Bulletin of the American Meterological Society 82(11):2415 - 2434

December 13-14, 2001:
Symposium on Water, Energy and Carbon Cycles in Terrestrial Systems: Local Scale Observations through FLUXNET and other Micrometerological Tower Sites at the Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, USA. Included two oral sessions and a poster session.

January 9-11, 2002;
Second International Workshop on Advanced Flux Network and Flux Evaluation. A workshop convened by AsiaFlux to advance understanding of ecosystem fluxes in Asia, and launch the Korean Network, KoFlux

June 20-23, 2002:
FLUXNET 2002 Synthesis Workshop was convened in Ovieto, Italy. Approximately fifty scientists from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia attended.


  • Baldocchi D., E. Falge, L. H. Gu et al. 2001. FLUXNET: A new tool to study the temporal and spatial variability of ecosystem-scale carbon dioxide, water vapor, and energy flux densities. 2001. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 82: 11: 2415-2434.
  • Falge E., D. Baldocchi, R. Olson, et al. 2001. Gap filling strategies for defensible annual sums of net ecosystem exchange. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 107(1): 43-69
  • Falge E., D. Baldocchi, R. Olson, et al. 2001. Gap filling strategies for long-term energy flux data-sets. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 107(1): 71-77.
  • Lianhong Gu, Dennis D. Baldocchi and R. J. Olson. 2001. FLUXNET Advances Integrated Studies of Terrestrial Biosphere - Atmosphere Exchanges of Carbon Dioxide, Water and Energy. Gewex Newsletter.

Special Publications:

--Dennis Baldocchi

Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment (GLIDE) (website)

In 2001 and 2002, international research networks are collaborating in an unprecedented global survey of litter biodiversity and decomposition - the Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment (GLIDE).
The fauna in the soils and litter (leaves and wood) beneath our feet is in orders of magnitude greater than the more familiar life above them. However, this biodiversity is very poorly understood relative to aboveground biodiversity, in part because of the darkness of the habitats and the microscopic size of many of the organisms. We do know that these organisms play a vital role in the removal of waste from the Earth's surface through decomposition, regulating the rate of decay and the amount and form of carbon sequestered in the soil. Global patterns of soil and litter biodiversity, or the significance of the very high belowground biodiversity for rates of decomposition is not known.

In 2001 and 2002, international research networks will collaborate in an unprecedented global survey of litter biodiversity and decomposition - the Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment (GLIDE). The core questions addressed are:

  • are patterns of organism succession involved in decomposition the same across biomes and latitude even though the rate of succession varies?
  • does the succession of taxa vary with latitude and decomposition rate?
  • are similar taxonomic groups involved in decomposition irrespective of biomes and latitude?
  • at varying latitudes, what are the effects of excluding animals to the rate of litter decomposition?

Recent and upcoming activities:
August and September 2001 - experimental plots were established at 32 sites across 20 countries. Mesh bags containing a common leaf litter substrate (grass hay) were placed at the sites.

At several points through the remainder of 2001 and 2002 the litterbags are being removed, weighed and the fauna present in them identified at BioTrack. These analyses will provide information on the rates of decomposition and the organisms responsible, many of which may be new to science. A website, explaining the project and the importance of soil biodiversity to a broad audience, and tracking the progress of the experiment throughout 2001 and 2002, has been created.

February 15, 2002 - The preliminary results of this first ever global survey of litter biodiversity and decomposition will be presented by Project Chair Dr. Diana Wall at a special IBOY symposium “Biodiversity Science and Global Research: The International Biodiversity Observation Year” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

December 2002 - Chemical analysis was conducted on plant litter from 18 GLIDE sites at Colorado State University to determine the percent composition of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen.

Early 2003 – Chemical analysis on the remaining GLIDE litterbags.

March 2003 – A workshop at Schloss, Germany to analyze data,providing new information on global patterns of litter biodiversity and decomposition.

Mid 2003 - the findings will be published in the scientific literature and on the internet.

Popular Press:

  • February 4 - 7 2002 - Pulse of the Planet aired a series of interviews with Project co-chair Dr. Mark Dangerfield, about GLIDE.

--Diana Wall, David Bignell, and Mark Dangerfield



GTOS-NPP: Global Terrestrial Observing System-Net Primary Production (website)

GTOS is an international body coordinating the distribution and centralization of large-scale ecosystem data, including satellite measurements of vegetation type and extent. One project of GTOS is developing estimates of net primary productivity, for every terrestrial km2 (excluding the snow-covered arctic and Antarctic). These estimates will be derived from MODIS satellite imagery.

For the IBOY, an international collaborative effort, involving independent research stations, international research networks and data centers around the world, will compare the estimates of NPP with species richness data. This analysis will provide new information on the relationship between biodiversity and an important ecosystem process at large spatial scales.

During 2000, algorithms to estimate rates of NPP from the MODIS satellite imagery were developed. In August 2000, an international workshop was held as part of the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) Network meeting in Snowbird Utah, USA, to identify types and sources of biodiversity data for the analyses. In spring 2001, the GTOS-NPP demonstration project will start delivering continuous estimates of NPP, for 8-day phases, for every km2, and this data will be correlated with species richness data. The project's assessment of large-scale relationships between biodiversity and NPP will be published in 2002.


-- Bob Scholes

Lost Worlds - an IMAX film on biodiversity and conservation (website)

The producers of the Academy Award Nominated IMAX film Cosmic Voyage have joined forces with the American Museum of Natural History to produce Lost Worlds and an educational support program on biodiversity. From the lost city of Tikal in Guatemala, through the hidden underground universe that nourishes New York, to the mysterious mountains of Venezuela that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, audiences will experience the amazing diversity of life on earth, and its profound importance to all of us.

The film will show in approximately 25 IMAX theaters in the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Spain. A video and DVD of the film are also available for sale in several museums and science centers.


--Bayley Silleck

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (website)

"The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an outstanding example of the sort of international scientific and political cooperation that is needed to further the cause of sustainable development. I call on Member States to help provide the necessary financial support for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and to become actively engaged in it." (U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi A. Annan. We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century. April 2000).

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is the largest ever collaboration of global scientists to assess the consequences of changes to the world’s ecosystems. As a major contribution to IBOY, at the end of 2002 it will publish the first ever methodology on how to assess the capacity of the world’s ecosystems to continue to produce needed goods and services. The MA was officially launched on the World Environment Day (June 5) 2001 which had the theme "The Web of Life." The Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, helped launch the MA at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. It was also the focus of activities on June 4 in Torino, Italy, on June 6 in Tokyo, Japan, and on June 15 in Beijing, China.

IBOY marked the launch of the MA by publishing an audio interview with Dr. Walter Reid, Acting Director of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, on the IBOY Kid's page

Why we need a Millennium Assessment:
Increasing human populations and consumptive demands, new technologies and a growing global economy are altering the biological, physical and chemical features of the Earth. Yet we remain deeply dependant on the world's natural and managed ecosystems for our own survival. Earth's terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems meet fundamental human needs for food, water, fiber and fuel, provide services such as water purification and pollination of crops and strongly influence human health, economic development and livelihoods. Ecosystems are both the product of and the home for the Earth's diversity of living species. For many people, this diversity of life is also part of their spiritual and cultural heritage.

The growing demands for the resources of ecosystems can no longer be met by tapping unexploited resources, and so trade-offs among goods and services have become the rule. For example, a nation can increase food supply by converting a forest to agriculture, but in so doing decreases the supply of goods that may be of equal or greater importance, such as clean water, timber, biodiversity or flood control.

We need to develop a way to assess and predict the ability of ecosystems to supply the many needed goods and services. Over the last decades our technical capacity to support such assessments has dramatically increased, particularly as a result of advances in remote sensing to monitor ecosystems, techniques and models for ecological forecasting and in the field of resource economics. A concerted effort is needed to bring this emerging science into the mainstream of decision-making, by increasing awareness of the available tools and the capacity to use them, and by providing information at the multiple scales (local to international) that need to be considered.

What is the Millennium Assessment?
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is a four-year process designed to improve the management of the world's natural and managed ecosystems by helping to meet the needs of decision-makers and the public for peer-reviewed, policy-relevant scientific information on the condition of ecosystems, future scenarios of ecosystem change and options for response. The MA will provide information in the short-term, and will build human and institutional capacity to provide information over the long-term. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment process is being modeled along the lines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments of Climate Change. It will be closely linked to decision-making bodies, in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, and National Governments however it is scientifically independent of these bodies with its findings and conclusions subject only to a scientific peer-review process

Specifically, the MA will:

  • significantly increase understanding of the linkage between ecosystems and the goods and services they provide
  • build human capacity and the capacity of global, regional, national and local institutions to undertake integrated ecosystem assessments and act on their findings
  • strengthen international environmental agreements and improve environment-related decisions of national governments by improving access to the best scientific information
  • support ten regional, national and local integrated assessments that will directly contribute to planning and capacity building needs
  • enhance civil society efforts to promote sustainable development by enabling ready access to peer-reviewed data and information
  • increase the incentives and information available to guide change in private sector actions
  • develop methodologies to undertake cross-sectoral assessments and effectively integrate information across scales
  • identify important areas of scientific uncertainty and data gaps that hinder decision-making and deserve greater research support.

How the Millennium Assessment is being implemented:
The institutional and organizational elements of the Millennium Assessment were developed by an international Steering Committee of scientific experts. Throughout 2001 the actual assessment was designed, with extensive consultations with user groups and experts. It was formally approved by the Board of the MA in a meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in January 2002 and a set of working groups, directed by an Assessment Panel, are now carrying out the actual assessment:

  • Group 1 is developing the methodology for undertaking the sub-global component of the MA process and coordinating the various sub-global assessment activities. The support agency for this group is co-located with the Director’s office at The world Fish Center - ICLARM, in Penang.
  • Group 2 is assessing the Condition of ecosystems. The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre was selected as the support agency for this group.
  • Group 3 is assessing future Scenarios of ecosystems to deliver needed goods and services. The Scientific Committee On Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) will be the support agency for this group; the scenarios work will be performed in association with the SCOPE project International Program on Ecosystem Change (IPEC).
  • Group 4 is identifying Response Options that could improve the management of ecosystems. The support agency is co-located with Dr. Kanchan Chopra, WG4 co-chair, at the Institute for Economic Growth, Delhi.

An advisory group on Outreach and Engagement engaged various "users" in developing the design of the MA and will coordinate the dissemination of information throughout the life of the project. These activities will be supported by a partnership between the World Resources Institute and the Meridian Institute.

Recognizing that interactions between ecosystems and societies occur at multiple spatial scales and are managed by policies and decision-making at many scales, the assessments are being carried out at both global and sub-global (regional, national and local) scales. There is an “open door” policy for incorporating sub-global assessments that meet the criteria into the MA process and, for activities that are not funded by regional governments or institutions, the MA will help identify potential donors and generate financial support. Sub-global assessments now being designed that are expected to become components of the MA include:

  • Norway National Assessment
  • Integrated Assessment for Western Development of China
  • South Africa Focal Region Assessment
  • Southeast Asia Focal Regional Assessment
  • Local Assessments in the Mala Village Cluster in India
  • Local Assessments in Sweden

The result of the design process for the MA will be the first ever methodology for how to assess the capacity of the world's ecosystems to continue to provide goods and services needed by society. This methodology will be published as a stand-alone volume in mid-2002 and will be a major contribution to the IBOY.

The MA will be completed in 2005, and ideally will be repeated every 5-10 years to facilitate monitoring of ecosystem changes, progress in response to those changes and to incorporate new findings.

Recent and Upcoming MA Meetings and Events:

February 1-2 South Africa Regional Assessment Planning meeting, Pretoria South Africa
February 16 Southeast Asia Regional Assessment Planning Meeting, Chaing Mai, Thailand
March 12-16 Sixth meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity SBSTTA, Montreal Canada (Includes plenary presentation on MA, Monday March 12)
March 26 Northern/Central Europe Regional Assessment Planning meeting, Potsdam Institute, Germany
April 8-11 First MA Technical Design Meeting, RIVM, The Netherlands
June 5 Official Launch of the MA
October 8 Second Technical Design Workshop including workshop on ‘Remote Sensing and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment’ Cape Town, South Africa
November 12-16 CBD SBSTTA, Montreal (Plenary presentation November 12 and side-event November 14)
January 14-16 Second MA Board Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Board reviewed the design and methodology of the MA that, over the previous year, has been developed by the Assessment Panel in consultation with the various user groups. This marks the transition to the next stage of the assessment when MA’s working groups will start assessment activities and convening lead authors.
April 29 - May 3 Rome, Italy - First Meeting of the ‘Condition and Trends’ Working Group
May 3-5 Rome, Italy - Data and Indicators Workshop
May 27 - 31 Delhi, India - First Meeting of the ‘Response Options’ Working Group
May 27 - June 7 Bali, Indonesia - Millennium Assessment side event at Prepcom IV for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
June 10 - 14 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama - First Meeting of the ‘Sub-Global Assessments’ Working Group
August 6 Side event at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa - The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Well-being (agenda)


Two activities during in the development stage of the MA are now in outreach phases and are helping raise awareness of the importance of ecosystem goods and services and the need for a MA.

  • The Pilot Analysis of Global Ecosystems. Five PAGE Technical Reports are available (see below).
  • September 2000 - World Resources 2000 -2001. People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life, a joint publication of UNEP, UNDP, World Bank, and World Resources Institute was released at the opening of the Bergen Ministerial Meeting of 25 Environmental Ministers.
  • April 2000 - Time Magazine featured the findings of PAGE and World Resources in its 'Earth Day' Special Issue (see below).
  • July 19, 2001 - The MA was highlighted in a television documentary Earth on Edge presented by Bill Moyers, broadcast by PBS in association with CNN in the USA.
  • February 15, 2002 - The design of the methodology and preliminary results of the millennium Ecosystem Assessment will be presented by Dr. Walter Reid a special IBOY symposium “Biodiversity Science and Global Research: The International Biodiversity Observation Year” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition, Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Recommended Reading:

--Walter Reid

OUTREACH - Biodiversity Series: Information for Educators and Communicators (website)

The poor, especially those in developing countries and rural areas, are disproportionately affected by worsening environmental conditions, including biodiversity loss. Environmental degradation threatens natural resources such as soil, water and fisheries, upon which they depend for subsistence and income. One of the greatest challenges that education providers in the developing world face is gaining access to appropriate learning materials that focus on real-life issues that help youth develop practical problem solving skills, and that provide students with the knowledge base which can equip them to deal with environmental and health realities.

Helping education providers meet this challenge is the purpose of OUTREACH. OUTREACH is a project of the Television Trust for the Environment, which was established in 1984 by UNEP, WWF and Central Television.

In the Biodiversity series, three educational packs on Genetic Diversity and Food Crops have already been produced in English. OUTREACH Issue Pack: Genetic Diversity and Food Crops, covers topics such as farmers' contributions to crop diversity, scientific breeding methods, and the impact of new biotechnologies upon crop diversity. Activity Guides for schools and youth groups explore genetics, genetic diversity, local crop diversity, and introduce students to issues related to biotechnology and biodiversity. In OUTREACH Solution pack: Preserving Genetic Diversity of Crop Plants students learn how to select and save seeds and other practical techniques for preserving the genetic diversity of local crop plants. Activities in OUTREACH Solution pack: Breeding Your Own Crops invite students to learn more sophisticated breeding methods, such as hybrid crosses in order to make new varieties. Students are also encouraged to consider cultivating wild edible crops.

These three packs have been distributed throughout the OUTREACH Network. The Network includes newspaper journalists, radio broadcasters, community workers, representatives from NGOs, teacher trainers, curriculum developers and others (but not individual teachers) who are involved in educating children in low- and middle-income countries about environmental and health issues.

Activities in 2001 - 2002:

October 2001 - Launch of the OUTREACH website, featuring an on-line kid’s magazine on environmental and health issues “Youth – Take Action.” The theme of the first issue of the magazine is soils. The first OUTREACH packs for educators and communicators, on Genetic Diversity and Food Crops, are downloadable from the website.

September 2002 - Outreach has been commissioned to produce eight OUTREACH packs in time for the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, September 2002 - Four issue packs will cover the basic concepts that need to be understood in order to analyze issues related to soil erosion, land degradation, forests and climate change. These packs will help youth explore and understand the relevance of these issues to their local communities. Complementing these issue packs will be four solution packs which will comprise hands-on activities, radio scripts, stories, puzzles and games.

OUTREACH education packs are available free-of-charge to people in the OUTREACH Network. If you are involved in educating youth in developing countries about health and environmental issues, and would like to apply to join the Network, please write to: TVE USA, PO Box 820, Shelburne, VT 05482, USA. Please state briefly how you would use the educational materials. (This free service is not available to individual class teachers.)

The set of three packs on Genetic Diversity and Food Crops (totaling 204 pp.) is also available for purchase from TVE USA at a price of US$20.00 plus postage and handling ($7.00 surface, $13.00 airmail). To order sets, write to TVE USA with your name, address and the number of sets you request. For orders within the United States, please enclose a check in U.S. dollars (drawn on a U.S. bank) and made payable to OUTREACH/TVE USA. For orders from outside the United States, please enclose a bank draft drawn on a U.S. bank in U.S. dollars, and made payable to OUTREACH/TVE USA.


  • Gillian Dorfman and Sharon Kahkonen. James V. Connor, ed. 2000. Biodiversity Series: OUTREACH Issue pack: Genetic Diversity and Food Crops. Published by OUTREACH/TVE USA in association with WWF-UK.
  • Gillian Dorfman and Sharon Kahkonen. James V. Connor, ed. 2000. Biodiversity Series: OUTREACH Solution pack: Preserving Genetic Diversity of Crop Plants. Published by OUTREACH/TVE USA in association with WWF-UK.
  • Gillian Dorfman and Sharon Kahkonen. James V. Connor, ed. 2000. Biodiversity Series: OUTREACH Solution pack: Breeding Your Own Crops. Published by OUTREACH/TVE USA in association with WWF-UK.

If you are interested in providing financial support for OUTREACH's biodiversity program during IBOY, please contact the OUTREACH Director, Dr. James Connor, at TVE USA (e-mail: for further information.

Download sample Issue and Solution Pack (.pdf)

--James Connor


Last updated January 10, 2003

IBOY took place during 2001 and 2002 and is now completed. Information on the projects, activities and products that took place during IBOY are available on these pages. Many of the projects are still continuing their research and education activities and links to their homepages can be found on the project pages.

For more information on on-going activities of IBOY's parent organization, DIVERSITAS, see

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