Save wild spaces to curb climate change

Conservationists are calling for the protection of critical land and sea wilderness areas to mitigate climate change and conserve biodiversity and healthy ecosystems that provide products and services vital to human well-being.

The Merida Message states that runaway carbon emissions are driving the climate towards irreversible tipping points, we are contaminating our planet with pervasive toxicity, destroying the diversity of life on our planet, exhausting freshwater supplies and causing acidification in our oceans, and over-exploiting our oceans, causing fisheries to collapse.

As a result, we are deepening poverty, weakening social structures and threatening global security. This situation is in stark contrast to the world we can have if wilderness and its contribution to natural life support systems are properly valued and protected.

Wilderness sustains us, generating the essential services that make possible our economicand social prosperity, our physical health and our spiritual well-being. Our essential choice – indeed, the imperative – has never been clearer.

Approximately 70% of the greenhouse gases emitted by humans in the past 250 years come from burning fossil fuels and 30% of emissions come from deforestation and land-use change.

The Merida Message supports current focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions, but calls for new measures to protect forests, wetlands, grasslands, and peatlands, which store large amounts of carbon, which is released into the atmosphere when they are degraded or converted to other uses.

The Merida Message makes specific recommendations and calls to action for wilderness protection to be included in policy developed at the Copenhagen United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December.

The Merida Message calls for a reversal of the destruction of the ocean’s vegetated habitats, including mangroves, salt marshes and sea grasses, because of the large amount of carbon storage they enable.

Recent research shows that these habitats account for at least 50% of all carbon stored in ocean sediments. It makes recommendations for the urgent protection of key ocean areas to halt destruction of fisheries and marine ecosystems.

The Merida Message also calls for the UNFCCC and Convention on Biodiversity Diversity (CBD), which currently operate separately, to integrate their respective efforts to develop and implement climate change and biodiversity conservation solutions.

“Wilderness protection on land and sea is key to both of these missions and the UNFCCC and CBD must work in a coordinated and urgent manner to facilitate protecting wilderness around the world,” said WILD9 Chairman Exequiel Ezcurra.

In an important display of unity and support, several key conservation organizations have signed The Merida Message, and the chair and executive committee of WILD9 invite other organizations and individuals to sign The Merida Message during the weeks leading up to Copenhagen, where it will be presented.

Signatories to The Merida Message include:

The WILD Foundation, Unidos para la Conservacion, The Wilderness Foundation Africa, The Wilderness Foundation UK, Conservation International, Naturalia, Reforestamos Mexico, Sanctuary Asia, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Canadian Boreal Initiative, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

To sign The Merida Message, please contact Emily Loose at [email protected]

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