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'Hero for the Planet' to speak on biodiversity

Submitted by Julie Jackson
Phone: (907) 474-7640

08/02/07

Destroyed. Eradicated. Extinct.

According to Peter Raven, internationally renowned botanist and director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, the continued pressures that people exert on the planet threaten the survival of land plants beyond the 21st century.

"They [plants] provide invaluable ecosystem services that conserve soil, determine our local climates, regulate the flow of our streams and purify our air and water," Raven said.

Raven, named "Hero for the Planet" by TIME magazine in 1999, will present two lectures addressing why land plants are becoming extinct and what people can do to slow and eventually reverse this process. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Raven will present "Winning Sustainability in an Age of Global Change: What is Our Responsibility?" Thursday, Aug. 23 from 7-9 p.m. in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Schaible Auditorium. The seminar is hosted by the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and Center for Research Services.

Raven's second lecture, "How many Plant Species will Survive the 21st Century?" will be held Friday, Aug. 24 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the University of Alaska Museum of the North Arnold Espe Auditorium on the UAF campus. The seminar is hosted by IAB, CRS and the UA Museum of the North.

"Peter Raven is a world-renowned conservationist and has played an important role in educating the public about the decline of biodiversity due to anthropogenic causes," said Janette Steets, assistant professor of botany at Oklahoma State University and the former IAB post-doctoral fellow who invited Raven to UAF.

Humans are consuming more than half of the world's total plant biomass and half of the sustainable supplies of fresh water, Raven said. "We are actively destroying the productive capacity of the Earth at a rate faster than it can be replenished by natural processes.

"There may be as many as 100,000 additional species to be detected whether by more precise analyses or by discovery," Raven said. "We have reasonably detailed information for only perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 species."

Raven's presentations are part of UAF's International Polar Year lecture series.

Raven is the Engelmann professor of botany at Washington University in St. Louis, chairman of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, chairman of the Division of Earth and Life Studies for the National Research Council and co-editor of the journal Flora of China.

For more information call (907) 474-7640 or go to www.iab.uaf.edu/events/events.php

CONTACT: Julie Jackson, IAB media student assistant, at (907) 474-7640 or via e-mail at fsjkj7@uaf.edu. Marie Gilbert, IAB public information officer, at (907) 474-7412 or by e-mail at marie.gilbert@uaf.edu.