The EAZA Conservation Forum 2010 opened today in Murten, Switzerland, bringing together more than eighty wildlife conservation experts from around the world. The event, hosted by the Papiliorama Foundation, will run for three days and presents a valuable opportunity for the exchange of information between researchers, field workers, conservation biologists and others at the forefront of species conservation. It is EAZA's flagship event for 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
The opening day of the conference focuses on the extinction crisis in Southeast Asia. Keynote speaker Simon Stuart, the chair of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission, stressed the need for urgent action to prevent extinctions of species in that region, with a particular emphasis on large animals. On the second day of the conference Eladio Fernandez Galiano, of the Biological Diversity Unit at the Council of Europe, will deliver a keynote presentation focusing on European endangered species. On Friday, when the spotlight will be on ape conservation, the keynote speaker will be Thomas Breuer, who works in the field with WCS Congo.
The unifying theme for the event, "Working for Biodiversity", reflects the growing role played by zoos and aquariums in biodiversity conservation. Through events such as this, connections between zoos and in situ conservation projects are established and strengthened. Support is not just financial, but also comes in the form of the unique expertise that exists within zoos for the management and breeding of limited populations of animals. Unfortunately as more and more species face increased threats from habitat destruction, climate change, and hunting and trade, expertise in managing very small populations of particular species become more relevant; and in some cases essential. It is hoped that the EAZA Conservation Forum will generate further momentum for the conservation of the biodiversity on which we all depend.
Pictured, from left to right:
Dr Simon Stuart (Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission),
Caspar Bijleveld van Lexmond (Director, Papiliorama Foundation),
Dr Lesley Dickie (Executive Director, EAZA),
Frank Rietkerk (Zoological Director, Apenheul Primate Park; Chair of EAZA Conservation Forum),
Bengt Holst (Director of Research and Conservation, Copenhagen Zoo; Vice-chair, EAZA Conservation Committee).