At Least 44% of the World’s Land Requires Conservation to Preserve Biodiversity
A new study from researchers at the Wildlife Conservation Society reveals the “current best estimate” of how much land mass must be conserved to stop the growing biodiversity crisis.
The study found at least 44% of the Earth’s land area requires conservation to preserve biodiversity, equivalent to around 64 million square kilometers (24.7 million square miles).
The study also projects that over 1.3 million km2 – an area larger than South Africa – will be cleared for human uses by 2030.
The researchers used geospatial algorithms to map the best areas for conserving terrestrial species and ecosystems around the world, testing various scenarios to quantify how much of the land may be cleared for human use by 2030.
The study provides policymakers with essential information about conservation and development planning, helping guide national and global conservation agendas.
It also calls for management through a wide range of strategies, rather than nations simply designating land as protected.
Why it matters:
The researchers say the study goes further than the world’s current high-profile target calling on countries to conserve 30% of their land by 2030.
"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,” said study co-author Kendall Jones.
“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," Jones added.