Posted in | News | Climate Change | Ecology

Prioritizing Large-Scale Biodiversity Conservation in Nature's Strongholds

To meet the imperative of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework target, which seeks to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030, researchers in an essay in PLOS Biology argue that "conservation areas need to be large enough to encompass functioning ecosystems and their associated biodiversity, and located in areas of high ecological integrity."

These priority areas, which the authors call "Nature's Strongholds," additionally are characterized by effective management and equitable governance. Their high ecological integrity, which reflect the overall health or condition of the ecosystem, makes them more resilient to pressures of climate change, and supports local communities who rely on nature both economically and culturally. Globally, they thus contribute to resolving the three interrelated global crises of climate, biodiversity loss, and health, including pandemics and pollution.

The essay was written by researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wide Fund for Nature International, IUCN, Global Environment Facility, University of Stirling, University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Equilibrium Research, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Bush Heritage Australia.

Said John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and lead author, "The science is clear that to protect the world's biodiversity, a key approach is to prioritize Nature's Strongholds: Areas characterized by high ecological integrity; connectivity into the broader landscape; large size; and effective management and equitable governance."

Said Joe Walston, Executive Vice President of WCS Global and a co-author: "We need more than ever large interconnected, efficiently managed, and equitably governed landscapes and seascapes. Not just because of their biodiversity values but it is only through maintaining their ecological integrity that they will survive the pressures from climate change. The research underscores the need to conserve Nature's Strongholds, where nature is strong for people and planet. Indigenous Peoples and local communities are a major reason why many of these Strongholds persist and they are the people who will be impacted the most by their loss."

The PLOS Biology authors emphasize the importance of conserving landscapes and seascapes at scales large enough to encompass functioning ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain. They assert that Nature's Strongholds will be disproportionately important for biodiversity conservation, and illustrate how to identify Strongholds in Central Africa and the Amazon. Extending the approach to other regions will support efforts of governments and the conservation community to stem the loss and degradation of Nature. 

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