Growing interest in Danish biodiversity
An impressive more than 400 people turned up to the fifth Biodiversity Symposium, held at Aarhus University on 22 January. Researchers, managers, consultants and policy-makers gathered to take stock of biodiversity in the Danish countryside. The good attendance bears witness to a large and increasing interest in the topic.
Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen opened the symposium with Danish Minister for Environment and Food, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen. The goals of the symposium included clarifying where future initiatives should concentrate to ensure a high degree of species diversity across Denmark.
The Biodiversity Symposium was launched to build bridges between basic research and consultancy, and the reality in which the most recent knowledge is to be incorporated. The symposium has established a national forum where researchers, managers, consultants and policy-makers can meet and discuss current issues related to Danish biodiversity and nature management.
Sustainable solutions to societal challenges
"Biodiversity and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are closely related, and we’re extremely committed to both at Aarhus University. As are many others. Therefore, we’re enormously pleased to be hosting this symposium, not only because we’re deeply engaged in international research and consultancy in the area, but also because the debate between the many players in the field is extremely important in a social perspective," says Niels Christian Nielsen.
Nature has a central position in the list of UN Sustainable Development Goals, and therefore it is clear that these global goals and sustainable solutions will also be conspicuous at Aarhus University.
"I'm immensely interested in developing the role of Aarhus University with a view to forging sustainable social development. The goal of contributing to sustainable development has also been moved onto the agenda for businesses and universities. And there are many indications that the environment also has climbed higher in voters' priorities in the run-up to the Danish general election."
Political focus on nature management
Minister for Environment and Food, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, attended to talk about the government's view on Danish biodiversity and give a brief presentation of the government's vision for nature through a number of new goals.
"We’re becoming increasingly aware of the importance of biodiversity. Most people can well understand what it is, but just five or ten years ago, no one thought too much about the issue, unless they were directly working on it. Today we’re all involved, especially myself as the Minister for Environment and Food," says Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.
Over the two days of the symposium, a series of lectures were held for the about 400 participants. Topics ranged from presentation of the historical development of Danish biodiversity and a status report on endangered plant and animal species in Denmark, to management of various different habitat types (both on land and aquatic habitats). The minister hopes that the symposium will help to strengthen future efforts by the government.
"I hope we learn more about what we should be doing and what targets we should be setting for ourselves, so that I’m better able to find the right balance. Satisfying everyone is a great challenge, but my intention with these new nature goals is to set an ambitious course for a concerted national effort to enhance biodiversity on land, at sea and in the air," he says.
The government's plans for nature management include emphasis on creating more cohesive nature by establishing new forests and wetlands, regulating minerals extraction and enhancing efforts to save endangered animal and plant species.
The Biodiversity Symposium is held every other year, alternating between Aarhus and Copenhagen. In 2021 the University of Copenhagen will once again be opening its doors for the symposium.