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Will Protecting Half the Earth Save Biodiversity? It Depends Which Half

August 31, 2018 |

This article was originally published on Mongabay

  • Adding large swaths of “wild areas” to the current network of protected areas in order to protect half of the Earth doesn’t mean more species will be protected, or that a larger portion of species’ ranges will be covered, a new study has found.
  • Researchers say it’s important to not be seduced by the idea of protecting areas simply because they’re big and politically easier to protect, but instead to prioritize areas because they’re special and/or have key species in them.
  • The study also revealed a surprising trend: existing protected areas around the world are good at covering at least some of the range of most of the world’s birds, mammals and amphibians.

“How much of the Earth should we protect to save species from going extinct? Some conservationists have suggested an ambitious number: half of the planet.

Prominent biologist Edward O. Wilson, for instance, proposes in his book, “Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life,” that devoting half the world to nature would help save the majority of species. Other researchers have backed the “Nature Needs Half” theme in policy and advocacy papers: protecting 50 percent of Earth’s land by 2050 would “help make the planet more livable for humanity.”

But what half do we protect? Achieving this figure simply by creating large protected areas isn’t going to save much biodiversity, says a new study published in Science Advances.

“There’s an increasing call for a Half-Earth,” lead author Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke professor of conservation ecology at Duke University in the U.S., told Mongabay. “But there’s a danger I think in asking for large areas to be protected when in fact we need to protect the right areas, we need to protect the places that really have species in them rather than drawing huge swathes on the map.”…”

Read on at: Mongabay.

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