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Global statistics on declining biodiversity can give the impression that every population of every species is in a downward spiral. In fact, many populations are stable or growing, while a small number of species faces truly existential challenges. These photos capture some specific crises. They are images of threats unfolding, of desperate attempts at species defence and of the beautiful living world that is at stake.

The 15th United Nations Biodiversity Conference, COP15, opens in Montreal, Canada, on 7 December. At the meeting, delegates will attempt to agree on goals for stabilizing species’ declines by 2030 and reverse them by mid-century. The current draft framework agreement promises nothing less than a “transformation in society’s relationship with biodiversity”.

Help for the kelp. Tasmania’s forests of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) are dying as climate change shifts ocean currents, bringing warm water to the east coast of the temperate Australian island. The kelp forests host an entire ecosystem, including abalone and crayfish — both economically important species and part of local food culture. Now, researchers at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Hobart are breeding kelp plants that can tolerate warmer conditions, and replanting them along the coast — a trial for what they hope will become a landscape-scale restoration.



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