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UN seals historic treaty to protect threatened ecosystems

October 31, 2010
"Governments have sent a strong message that protecting the health of the planet has a place in international politics and countries are ready to join forces to save life on Earth,"
- WWF International director general Jim Leape

A historic global treaty to protect the world's forests, coral reefs and other threatened ecosystems within 10 years was sealed at a UN summit on Saturday.

One of the most significant elements of the accord was a commitment to protect 17 percent of land and 10 percent of oceans so that biodiversity there could thrive.

Currently only 13 percent of land and one percent of oceans are protected.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace expressed disappointment at the new targets, which delegates said were lowered on the insistence of China and some other developing countries.

Greenpeace had been pushing for 20 percent of oceans to be conserved, as a step towards an eventual target of 40-percent preservation.

There were other limitations to the Nagoya pact -- including that the United States was not a signatory as it is one of the few countries not to have ratified the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

But while some green groups said the 20-point plan was not as ambitious as hoped, most still welcomed it as a historic step towards united global action in tackling biodiversity problems and raising awareness about the issue.

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