Sustainable Use of Tropical Biodiversity.
The Tropics hosts approximately 80 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity and more than 95 percent of its mangrove biodiversity. This region—both on land and in the sea—are well-known as the world’s richest latitude for species. If the world is to preserve this biological wealth—it must first safeguard ecosystems in the Tropics. We ignore this at the peril of future product development that can cure the world’s diseases. In particular, tropical forests are incredibly biodiverse; they support at least two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity despite covering less than 10% of Earth’s land surface. Unfortunately, prospects for tropical forests and the biodiversity therein are becoming increasingly bleak owing to unabated deforestation and forest alteration that stem from human activities such as uncontrolled logging, hunting, agricultural expansion, and human settlement.
Sustainable Blue Economy in the Tropics.
The oceans comprise 76 % of the tropical region. As with the Tropics’ rainforests, its oceans sport the world’s most species-rich ecosystem of coral reefs. Although lower in overall fish biomass, the tropics’ share of the overall global wild marine fish catch is increasing. But overfishing and destructive fishing practices have depleted some species in parts of the Tropics due to pressure from human population growth, particularly in coastal communities, and increasing affluence. How will the Tropics leverage the marine economy: marine renewable energy as in offshore wind and ocean sectors; blue biotechnology? How do we harness tropical sea / ocean resources to develop world solutions applicable to sectors as varied as food, health and well-being, conservation or industry production and processes?
Natural Product Development: The Future is in the Tropics.
The tropical forests of the world are where the greatest biodiversity (including plants) is located, and is considered to offer the greatest opportunity to identify new chemical entities of potential bioactivity. There are major areas of societal need for the potential development of natural products, including agricultural and crop development, as well as the discovery and development of new, natural insecticides and herbicides, the prioritized development of existing traditional medicines, and the discovery of new preparations for medicinal purposes to meet unfilled needs, such as new diseases and drug resistance. However, crucial to any plan for natural products development is a long-term view that ALL projected natural sources must be sustainable, so that plant resources are not inexorably depleted through uncontrolled bioprospecting or wild-crafting.