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Man v Nature: Ecologist investigates how humans help/hurt wild species

As the most dominant species on the planet, humans continue to leave their mark – both positive and negative - on the natural world.

The way in which wild species are utilised is the focus of a new investigation by a global science-policy group, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

University of Southern Queensland (USQ) researcher Dr Uttam Babu Shrestha has been enlisted to help.

IPBES, an intergovernmental body headquartered in Germany, provides policymakers worldwide with scientific assessments regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people. It currently has 128 United Nations member countries.

Dr Shrestha has been selected as a lead author for the IPBES’s Thematic Assessment of Sustainable Use of Wild Species.

“We’re essentially taking a look at all plants, fungi, and other organisms that live wild and how they are positively and negatively utilised by humans,” Dr Shrestha said.

“We want to strengthen related practices, measures, capacities and tools for their conservation.”

Dr Shrestha said the assessment would be conducted over the next three years.

“My focus will be to produce sections of chapter four based on the best scientific, technical and socio-economic information available.”

This isn’t the first assessment that IPBES has sought Dr Shrestha‘s assistance with. He was picked as a young fellow (one of 16 from 432 applicants) to contribute to the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in 2016.

The report, the first comprehensive overview for more than a decade of the state of knowledge about global biodiversity and the contributions of nature to people, is due to be published in mid-2019.

“The overall scope of the assessment was to assess the status and trends with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services, the impact of biodiversity and ecosystem services on human well-being and the effectiveness of responses,” he said.

“It was an honour to be one of around 200 expert authors from over 50 countries – a massive interdisciplinary collaboration.”

Man standing outside
Dr Shrestha has been selected as a lead author for the IPBES’s Thematic Assessment of Sustainable Use of Wild Species.