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By Jon Paul Rodríguez
Venezuela, one of the 20 countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world, threatened by human activities.
Due to its location in the north of South America, Venezuela is a privileged country. In its 916,280 square kilometers - which extend from the sunny coasts of the Caribbean Sea to the perpetual snows of Bolívar Peak at 5007 m high - the Amazon basin, the Andean mountain range and the Caribbean Sea converge; three of the most outstanding features of the geography of the subcontinent. The result is a complex mosaic of ecosystems in which savannahs alternate with deciduous and morichal forests; montane forests with cloud forests and moors; deserts with dry forests, cardonal and mangrove forests.
This variety of ecosystems, in turn, serves as a shelter for the great richness of species that has given Venezuela the title of one of the 20 most biodiverse countries in the world: 8% of the known species of higher plants, 5% of amphibians, 4% of reptiles, 13% of birds and 7% of mammals, inhabit less than 0.6% of the surface of the planet's land masses.
Today, this great biodiversity is threatened by human activities. Between 1978 and 1985, 430,000 hectares of the country's natural environments were deforested and 230,000 hectares were affected by the construction of dams, while only during 1985, 62,000 hectares were intervened for the construction of roads.
Figures such as the above reveal the existence of a growing conflict between the use of natural resources and their long-term persistence. There is no doubt that the very survival of humans and our economic system depends on maintaining the integrity of the earth's ecosystems. The value of the natural services of the biosphere has been estimated at 33 trillion (1012) dollars annually - almost double the combined gross territorial product of all the countries of the world.
The solution to this conflict depends on the use of natural resources in a rational and organized way, putting into practice the principles of sustainable development. The route to this ideal will only be possible after taking into account all the available information on the current situation of the country's natural resources and analyzing it in the context of the future needs of human populations.
Motivated by this problem, Provita has been dedicated for almost 15 years to the conservation of Venezuelan biodiversity, emphasizing the protection of species and environments threatened with extinction, combining various fields of knowledge in the search for comprehensive solutions.
On World Biodiversity Day we invite all the inhabitants of the planet to join this cause and thus contribute to the conservation of our environment and natural resources, ensuring a better world for future generations.
* Jon Paul Rodríguez, Ph.D.
President of PROVITA
Copyright © 1999-2003 Authorized reproduction only mentioning as source and with link if published on the Internet Venezuelan biodiversity threatened with extinction By Jon Paul Rodríguez, Ph.D. *