Report: Conserving 44% of Land Needed to Save Planet’s Biodiversity

June 5th, 2022 - by Science Daily & Julia Jacobo / Yahoo News

Scientists show at least 44 percent of Earth’s land must be protected to save biodiversity and ecosystems

Science Daily

(June 2, 2022) — New research reveals that 44 percent of Earth’s land area — some 64 million square kilometers (24.7 million square miles) requires conservation to safeguard biodiversity.

New research published in the June 3, 2022 journal Science reveals that 44 percent of Earth’s land area — some 64 million square kilometers (24.7 million square miles) requires conservation to safeguard biodiversity.

The team, led by Dr James R. Allan from the University of Amsterdam, used advanced geospatial algorithms to map the optimal areas for conserving terrestrial species and ecosystems across the world. They further used spatially explicit land-use scenarios to quantify how much of this land is at risk from human activities by 2030.

“Our study is the current best estimate of how much land we must conserve to stop the biodiversity crisis — it is essentially a conservation plan for the planet,” said lead author James Allan. “We must act fast, our models show that over 1.3 million km2 of this important land — an area larger than South Africa — is likely to have its habitat cleared for human uses by 2030, which would be devastating for wildlife.”

The work has important policy implications since governments are currently negotiating a post-2020 global biodiversity framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity, with new goals and targets for biodiversity which will hopefully come into effect later this year. This will set the conservation agenda for at least the next decade, and governments will have to report progress against these targets on a regular basis.

“More than a decade ago, governments set a global target to conserve at least 17 per cent of terrestrial areas through protected areas and other site-based approaches for improving the status of biodiversity and ecosystems,” explains co-author Dr Kendall Jones, Conservation Planning Specialist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “However, by 2020 it was clear that this was not enough for halting biodiversity declines and averting the biodiversity crisis.”

A high-profile target being now discussed for 2030 is that nations should conserve 30% of their land through protected areas and other site-based approaches.

Added Jones: “While this is a great step in the right direction, our study suggests that more ambitious goals and policies to maintain ecological integrity beyond this 30% target are crucial. If nations are serious about safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem services that underpin life on Earth, then they need immediately to scale-up their conservation efforts, not only in extent and intensity but also in effectiveness.”

The authors said the study provides essential information for conservation and development planning, and can help guide future national and global conservation agendas. They also emphasized that all the identified land should not necessarily be designated as protected areas, but rather managed through a wide range of strategies for species and ecosystem conservation, including including other effective area-based conservation measures, and effective sustainable land-use policies when appropriate.

“Conservation actions that promote the autonomy and self-determination of people living on this land, whilst also maintaining ecological integrity are crucial,” said Dr Allan. “We have many effective conservation tools available, from empowering Indigenous Peoples to manage their natural environment, through to policies that limit deforestation or provide sustainable livelihood options, and of course protected areas.”

.Protecting 30% of Global Land by 2030 Could Benefit 1,000 Species, Help Reduce Emissions: Study
Julia Jacobo / Yahoo News

(June 1, 2022) — Ramping up the protection of land within the next decade could make a significant dent in biodiversity and climate change efforts that would get countries closer to their conservation goals, according to new research.

If countries succeed in protecting 30% of global land area by 2030, it could benefit about 1,000 vertebrate species whose habitats currently lack any form of protection, according to a study published Wednesday in Science Advances.

About half of the species that would benefit from expanding protected areas worldwide are classified as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near-threatened, the scientists said.

What is being dubbed by scientists as the “30 by 30” target could also spare about 11 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year in avoided carbon emissions or carbon sequestration, the paper states.
PHOTO: An autumn snowfall coats the tundra and the peak of Mount Chamberlin. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. (Scott T. Smith/Getty Images, FILE)

Researchers from Princeton University and the National University of Singapore compared models that maximize different aspects of conservation. They considered only natural areas and excluding croplands and urban areas, and found that additional benefits could result for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and nutrient-regulation if protected area coverage were increased to 30% of the terrestrial area within 238 countries worldwide.

Yiwen Zeng, an ecologist at Princeton University’s Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment and author of the study, described 2030 as the “midway point” to “50 by 50,” or the goal to protect half of the Earth by 2050.

“The general idea is that we can actually protect over 1,000 species, on average, if we commit to this,” he told ABC News. “It can mean a huge part of our climate reductions and sequestration needed to prevent climate change.”

In addition, expanding protections to land globally could “greatly” increase the land’s ability to regulate water quality and mitigate nutrient pollution, according to the study.

Thomson’s Gazelle, wildebeest and zebra gather at a waterhole in Tanzania. (Maria Sward/Getty Images)

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