The Centre for Ecological Research (CER) and the National Botanical Garden – maintained and operated by the Centre - were proud to join among the first in Hungary to the global coalition “United for Biodiversity”, whose main aim is to raise awareness in a wide-ranging international campaign of the dramatic loss of biodiversity and the need for action to conserve biodiversity and avoid nature crisis. The topicality of the international coalition is given by the upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties (CoP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) taking place in China in October 2021, where key decisions need to be made by the parties to mitigate biodiversity loss.
The Centre for Ecological Research is the largest research institute in Hungary in the field of ecology and evolutionary biology, and their research results facilitate the transition towards an environmentally sustainable economic and social system (sustainable forestry and agriculture, green infrastructure development, protection against invasive alien species, halting degradation, creating a livable urban environment, controlling emerging diseases). They examine the ecological background of the harmonious coexistence of nature and society by applying ecosystem services, local and traditional knowledge, and citizen science approaches. CER experts have been involved in the work of IPBES from the very beginning, several staff members are members of the IPBES expert panel.
András Báldi DSc, head of the Ecosystem Services Res. Group, expert of IPBES:
“The crisis of biodiversity decline has been known for decades. Loud resolutions and agreements were made, but the trend has not changed. World leaders need to take much more radical steps to pass on a livable environment to the next generations. The current system needs to be consolidated and restructured so that public money does not go to environmentally harmful activities. We need to understand with society that we are part of a unique natural-social system, and if we live up to biodiversity, our natural capital, and that capital disappears, then all the ecosystem services will seriously decline that our civilization are built on and without which human civilization will be destroyed. Examples are food, clean water and air, immunity to diseases, mental health, and so on. "
The National Botanical Garden is the richest collection of plants in Hungary, the number of reserved species and varieties is close to 13,000. The 200-year-old romantic landscape-designed garden, located in Vácrátót close to the capital, also a national monument and nature conservation area. The botanical garden serves not only as a professional workshop for science and education, but also as a living museum.
Vince Zsigmond, horticultural engineer-botanist, head of the CER National Botanical Garden:
“Botanical gardens around the world have a great role in conservation of biodiversity, especially protected, endangered plant species outside their original habitat, as so-called ex-situ conservation as well as by education programs. A total number of 291 protected and 48 highly protected plant species are maintained in the open-air collections and in the seed bank of the CER National Botanical Garden, which is near 46% of all native vascular plant species protected by Hungarian law. All this is significant not only at national but at international level as well. As eco-touristic attraction with high number of visitors, we provide several different education programs on environment and nature themes with especial focus on presenting importance of biodiversity and make it understood.”
Until now 280 institutions from 51 countries, has been joined to the Global Coalition “United for Biodiversity”, among others research institutes, universities, museums, national parks, botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums to jointly call for the adoption of a new global framework to protect and restore nature, as much-needed as the Paris Agreement focusing on the climate urgency.