Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Brazil have set themselves the ambitious target of slowing down the rate of species loss by 2010.
In this article, Ehsan Masood argues that conserving biodiversity goes hand in hand with saving the world's endangered languages.
Indigenous communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific often have detailed knowledge of their local flora and fauna that they express only in their native languages.
Masood says that if we wish to use this knowledge to protect and sustainably exploit biodiversity, then endangered languages must also be protected.
He points out that threatened languages and species are often found in the same places. According to UNESCO, for instance, a quarter of the world's languages are spoken in two of the world's most species-rich countries: Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.