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Environment

FACTBOX-U.N. meeting agrees steps to save wildlife

(Reuters) - Nearly 200 governments have agreed steps to help save animal and plant life from threats including pollution and climate change, ending a 12-day U.N. meeting on biological diversity.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel makes a speech at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY)

The conference agreed:

OCEAN FERTILISATION

- a moratorium on projects to tackle climate change by adding nutrients to the seas to spur growth of carbon-absorbing algae, according to host Germany.

GENETIC RESOURCES

- a roadmap for working out by 2010 new rules, with legally binding elements, on access to natural resources and sharing their benefits. Firms want to tap genetic resources, for example for medicines, but some local people accuse them of “biopiracy” and want a greater share of the rewards.

PROTECTED AREAS

- a framework for a global network of areas to protect wildlife which gives instructions to governments and donors to mobilize resources for the zones. New protected areas were announced in the Balkans and in the Caribbean.

Germany launched “Lifeweb”, a plan to extend the world’s protected areas by getting industrialized countries to donate cash to help developing countries meet the costs. It also pledged 500 million euros ($773.9 million) to 2012 plus 500 million euros a year after that to help save forests. Norway matched that.

MARINE AREAS

- to set criteria for the creation of marine protected areas. While 12 percent of the world’s land area is set aside for wildlife, only about 0.5 percent of the oceans are designated.

FORESTS

- to designate 10 percent of all existing forest ecosystems as protected areas and nations also called for a clampdown on illegal logging. Experts say 20 percent of world greenhouse gases come from forest destruction.

BIOFUELS

- to adopt a work programme to assess the impact of biofuels on biodiversity by 2010. Such fuels can threaten biodiversity, for instance if forests are cleared or wetlands drained to grow crops for fuel.

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Compiled by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Jon Boyle

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