Prioritising protection of global eco-regions to meet international biodiversity targets

A Griffith University-led collaboration has called for a more strategic protection of land to meet biodiversity targets, set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

In findings published in One Earth, Dr Alienor Chauvenet from the School of Environment and Science and colleagues from the University of Oxford, The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, University of Tasmania, and other international universities, compared the impact of land acquisition practices on ecosystem protection worldwide.

They found that using the right prioritisation strategy more than double the number of ecosystem types adequately protected by 2030, relative to business as usual, at no added expense.

“To save species from extinction, conservation is racing to establish new protected areas before natural habitats are lost,” Dr Chauvenet said. “But this needs to be done strategically.”

She said as the earth’s natural assemblages of communities of plants and animal species are organised into major ecosystem types or ecoregions, “the more diverse ecoregions we protect, the more likely we are of safeguarding a broad array of biodiversity.”

For this reason, the CBD has set international targets for protected areas to ensure a set percentage of each global ecoregion is protected. As this study’s business as usual projections show, we are currently not on target to meet this requirement.

“We developed a suite of simple strategies to prioritise ecoregions for protection, then compared them to each other, and a business as usual approach,” Dr Chauvenet said.

“Our computer models determined that despite the same annual budget for protected areas as business as usual, up to 260 more ecoregions would meet CBD protection targets by 2030.”

“By simply prioritising ecoregions that are the closest to meeting the CBD’s target areas for protection, we get the greatest bang for our buck in terms of ecosystem protection and representation.”

“With CBD targets for biodiversity currently being renegotiated, this work aims to inform international policy,” Dr Chauvenet said.

“A more representative global protected area system, will ensure the greatest biodiversity protection”

/University Release. View in full here.