James Allan

James Allan
The University of Amsterdam · Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

BSc (Hons 1)

About

78
Publications
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Introduction
I am a conservation scientist working at the University of Amsterdam. My research involves conservation planning, cumulative threat mapping, wilderness conservation, world heritage conservation, and the illegal wildlife trade among others. I collaborate with multiple NGO partners to make sure my research is applied to on-the-ground conservation challenges. I also have a particular interest in African conservation.

Publications

Publications (78)
Article
Full-text available
Raptors are emblematic of the global biodiversity crisis because one out of five species are threatened with extinction and over half have declining populations due to human threats. Yet our understanding of where these “threats” impact raptor species is limited across terrestrial Earth. This is concerning because raptors, as apex predators, are cr...
Article
Full-text available
Ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global biodiversity crisis. In this study, we estimate the minimum land area to secure important biodiversity areas, ecologically intact areas, and optimal locations for representation of species ranges and ecoregions. We discover that at least 64 million square kilometers (44% of terrestrial ar...
Article
Full-text available
Multiple languages being spoken within a species' distribution can impede communication among conservation stakeholders, the compilation of scientific information, and the development of effective conservation actions. Here, we investigate the number of official languages spoken within the distributions of 10,863 bird species to identify which spec...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biodiversity conservation supporting a global sustainability transformation must be inclusive, equitable, just, and embrace plural values. The conservation basic income (CBI), an unconditional cash transfer to individuals in important conservation areas, is a potentially powerful mechanism for facilitating this radical shift in conservation. Here,...
Article
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Africa has experienced unprecedented growth across a range of development indices for decades. However, this growth is often at the expense of Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people depending on the goods and services provided by nature, with broader consequences for achieving the United Nations Sus...
Article
Minimising the environmental impacts of biofuel production is an urgent global challenge. Over the next decade, increased demand for sugarcane-based ethanol in Brazil could result in over one million hectares of the nation's native forest and grassland being replaced directly by sugarcane or indirectly by displaced crops and pastureland. Here we in...
Article
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A key obstacle to wildlife conservation is a scarcity of funding. A recent paper [Courchamp, F., Jaric, I., Albert, C., Meinard, Y., Ripple, W. J., and Chapron, G. (2018). The paradoxical extinction of the most charismatic animals. PLoS Biol. 16:e2003997. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2003997] illustrates how for-profit businesses' widespread use of th...
Preprint
Full-text available
Multiple languages being spoken within a species distribution can impede communication among conservation stakeholders, the compilation of scientific information, and the development of effective conservation actions. Here, we investigate the number of official languages spoken within the distributions of 10,863 bird species to identify which ones...
Preprint
Full-text available
Tropical forests support immense biodiversity and provide essential ecosystem services for billions of people. Despite this value, tropical deforestation continues at a high rate. Emerging evidence suggests that elections can play an important role in shaping deforestation, for instance by incentivising politicians to allow increased utilisation of...
Article
Full-text available
en African rangelands support substantial wildlife populations alongside pastoralists and livestock. Recent wildlife declines are often attributed to competition with livestock over water and grazing, in part because livestock are thought to spatially displace wildlife. However, more evidence is needed to understand this interaction and inform rang...
Preprint
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Humanity is on a pathway of unsustainable loss of the natural systems upon which we, and all life, rely. To date, global efforts to achieve internationally-agreed goals to reduce carbon emissions, halt biodiversity loss, and retain essential ecosystem services, have been poorly integrated. However, these different goals all rely on preserving natur...
Article
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There is a growing recognition that conservation strategies should be designed accounting for cross-realm connections, such as freshwater connections to land and sea, to ensure effectiveness of marine spatial protection and minimize perverse outcomes of changing land-use. Yet, examples of integration across realms are relatively scarce, with most t...
Article
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Abstract Systematic conservation planning identifies priority areas to cost‐effectively meet conservation targets. Yet, these tools rarely guide wholesale declaration of reserve systems in a single time step due to financial and implementation constraints. Rather, incremental scheduling of actions to progressively build reserve networks is required...
Article
Humans have influenced the terrestrial biosphere for millennia, converting much of Earth’s surface to anthropogenic land uses. Nevertheless, there are still some ecosystems that remain free from significant direct human pressure (and as such, considered ‘‘intact’’), thereby providing crucial habitats for imperilled species and maintaining the ecosy...
Article
Full-text available
Land free of direct anthropogenic disturbance is considered essential for achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes but is rapidly eroding. In response, many nations are increasing their protected area (PA) estates, but little consideration is given to the context of the surrounding landscape. This is despite the fact that structural connectivit...
Preprint
Full-text available
Protected areas (PAs) are the last refuges for wild biodiversity, yet human pressures (or threats) are increasingly prevalent within their boundaries. Human pressures have the potential to negatively impact species and undermine their conservation, but their overlap with sensitive threatened species in PAs remains rarely quantified. Here, we analys...
Technical Report
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Background: Road development and associated large infrastructure projects have the potential to drive economic growth and poverty reduction in the developing world. However, there is a common misconception among governments and developers that all roads are good, while some may have considerable economic and environmental costs. It is essential to...
Article
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The SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19 illness are driving a global crisis. Governments have responded by restricting human movement, which has reduced economic activity. These changes may benefit biodiversity conservation in some ways, but in Africa, we contend that the net conservation impacts of COVID-19 will be strongly negative. Here, we describe h...
Article
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African lions are declining across much of their range, yet robust measures of population densities remain rare. The Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area (QECA; 2,400 km 2) in East Africa's Albertine Rift has potential to support a significant lion population. However, QECA lions are threatened, and information on the status of lions in the region is...
Article
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Disney's new Lion King movie (released July 19th 2019) has put lion conservation in the global spotlight, with millions of dollars being committed to recovering Africa's lion populations through the “Protect the Pride” campaign (a partnership between the Lion Recovery Fund and Disney Conservation Fund). Although this USD$ 1.5 million from the Disne...
Preprint
Our ability to map humanity's influence across Earth has evolved, thanks to powerful computing, a network of earth observing satellites, and new bottom-up census and crowd-sourced data. Here, we provide the latest temporally inter-comparable maps of the terrestrial Human Footprint, and assessment of change in human pressure at global, biome, and ec...
Article
Full-text available
The United Nation's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 calls for reducing species extinctions, as it is increasingly clear that human activities threaten to drive species to decline. Yet despite considerable scientific evidence pointing to the detrimental effects of interacting threats on biodiversity, many species lack information on their...
Article
Full-text available
Transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy is fundamental for halting anthropogenic climate change. However, renewable energy facilities can be land‐use intensive and impact conservation areas, and little attention has been given to whether the aggregated effect of energy transitions poses a substantial threat to global biodiversity. Here,...
Data
Supplementary materials: Intense human pressure is widespread across terrestrial vertebrate ranges. This file includes: Tables S1 to S4
Preprint
Full-text available
Land free of direct anthropogenic disturbance is considered essential for achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes but is rapidly eroding. In response, many nations are increasing their protected area estates but little consideration is given to the context of the surrounding landscape. This is despite the fact that connectivity between protect...
Article
Full-text available
We assess the magnitude and the extent of recent change of significant human footprint within protected areas, key biodiversity areas and the habitat range of 308 lowland forest specialist birds in Sundaland, a global hotspot of biodiversity in Southeast Asia. Using the most recent human footprint dataset, we find that 70% of Sundaland has been hea...
Article
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[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000158.].
Preprint
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More ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global degradation of ecosystems and the extinction of the species that comprise them. Here, we estimate the minimum amount of land needed to secure known important sites for biodiversity, Earth's remaining wilderness, and the optimal locations for adequate representation of terrestrial spe...
Thesis
Full-text available
Wilderness areas hold an exceptional range of environmental values but are being rapidly destroyed. In this thesis I addressed key questions relevant to conserving wilderness and biodiversity. I created the first temporally intercomparable global maps of terrestrial wilderness, enabling an analysis of recent wilderness loss. I then analysed where w...
Article
Full-text available
The river Nile flows across 11 African countries, supporting millions of human livelihoods, and holding globally important biodiversity and endemism yet remains underprotected. No basin-wide spatial conservation planning has been attempted to date, and the importance of coordinated conservation planning for the Nile’s biodiversity remains unknown....
Article
Full-text available
Author summary The biggest drivers of global biodiversity loss are hunting, harvesting, and the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture, urbanisation, and other industrial activity. However, our understanding of where these ‘threats’ actually impact sensitive species is extremely limited across Earth. Here, we map the distribution of threats...
Data
Impact hotspots of individual human pressures on all threatened terrestrial vertebrates (n = 5,457), mammals (n = 1,277), birds (n = 2,120), and amphibians (n = 2,060). Scale represents the number of species impacted by the threat in a grid cell. Hotspots of impact are in dark red. Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection...
Data
Threatened species richness for all taxa (n = 5,457), mammals (n = 1,277), birds (n = 2,120), and amphibians (n = 2,060). Areas of high human richness are red. Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection. The data underlying this figure are freely available [31] (doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.897391). (TIF)
Data
Major classes and subclasses of threats to biodiversity, as classified in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the corresponding spatially explicit human pressure variable from the updated Human Footprint dataset and a brief description of how it was created, along with justifications for linking spatially explicit pressures to threats. IUCN, I...
Data
The average number of species impacted by threats per grid cell, and unimpacted by threats per grid cell, in each of Earth’s ecoregions. (DOCX)
Data
Weights assigned to individual pressures in the Human Footprint and threshold scheme used to convert pressures into binary scores (present or absent) for impact analyses. (DOCX)
Data
The percentage of species in a grid cell impacted by a threat (and inversely, the number of unimpacted species for whom it is a refuge) for (A) birds (n = 2,120), (B) mammals (n = 1,277), and (C) amphibians (n = 2,060). Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection. The data underlying this figure are freely available [31] (do...
Data
The eight mapped human pressures, the number of sensitive species they impact, the area in which these impacts are occurring, and the proportion of Earth’s terrestrial area where these impacts are occurring. (DOCX)
Data
Database containing information on the area and proportion of a threatened vertebrate species’ range that is impacted by threats, including the data underpinning Fig 2. (XLSX)
Data
Impact hotspots of individual human pressures on all threatened terrestrial vertebrates (n = 5,457), mammals (n = 1,277), birds (n = 2,120), and amphibians (n = 2,060). Scale indicates the number of species impacted by the threat in a grid cell. Hotspots of impact are dark red. Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection. Th...
Data
Cumulative human impacts on all threatened terrestrial birds (n = 2,120), mammals (n = 1,277), and amphibians (n = 2,060). Scale indicates the number of species in a grid cell impacted by at least one threat. Areas of high human impact (hotspots) are red. Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection. The data underlying this...
Data
Coolspots of refugia for all threatened terrestrial mammals (n = 1,277), birds (n = 2,120), and amphibians (n = 2,060). Scale indicates the number of species not impacted by any threats in a grid cell. Coolspots of refugia are blue. Maps use a 30 km × 30 km grid and a Mollweide equal area projection. The data underlying this figure are freely avail...
Data
The top ten countries with the most impacted and unimpacted species on average. (DOCX)
Data
The average number of species impacted and unimpacted by threats per grid cell, and the proportion of species impacted by threats, in each of Earth’s biomes. (DOCX)
Article
Full-text available
Global conservation policy must stop the disappearance of Earth's few intact ecosystems
Article
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Global areal protection targets have driven a dramatic expansion of the marine protected area (MPA) estate. We analyzed how cost‐effective global MPA expansion has been since the inception of the first global target (set in 1982) in achieving ecoregional representation. By comparing spatial patterns of MPA expansion against optimal MPA estates usin...
Article
Full-text available
In an era of massive biodiversity loss, the greatest conservation success story has been the growth of protected land globally. Protected areas are the primary defense against biodiversity loss, but extensive human activity within their boundaries can undermine this. Using the most comprehensive global map of human pressure, we show that 6 million...
Article
Full-text available
Poaching for ivory has caused a steep decline in African elephant (Loxodonta africana, see the photo) populations over the past decade (1). This crisis has fueled a contentious global debate over which ivory policy would best protect elephants: banning all ivory trade or enabling regulated trade to incentivize and fund elephant conservation (2). Th...
Article
Full-text available
Poaching for ivory has caused a steep decline in African elephant (Loxodonta africana, see the photo) populations over the past decade (1). This crisis has fueled a contentious global debate over which ivory policy would best protect elephants: banning all ivory trade or enabling regulated trade to incentivize and fund elephant conservation (2). Th...
Article
Full-text available
Wilderness areas, defined as areas free of industrial scale activities and other human pressures which result in significant biophysical disturbance, are important for biodiversity conservation and sustaining the key ecological processes underpinning planetary life-support systems. Despite their importance, wilderness areas are being rapidly eroded...
Article
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Niassa National Reserve (NNR) supports Mozambique's largest populations of endangered fauna and sustains the livelihoods of > 40,000 people who utilise its natural resources. Accurately monitoring fine-scale spatial and temporal trends in land-use and tree-cover is increasingly used for monitoring the ecological state of conservation areas. Here we...
Article
Full-text available
Wilderness areas are ecologically intact landscapes predominantly free of human uses, especially industrial scale activities, which result in significant biophysical disturbance. This definition does not exclude indigenous peoples and local communities who live in wilderness areas, depending on them for subsistence, and who have developed deep bio-...
Article
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More than 80% of recent major armed conflicts have taken place in biodiversity hotspots, including the Tropical Andes which is home to the world's highest concentrations of bird, mammal, and amphibian species and over 10% of all vascular plant species (Mittermeier et?al. 2004; Hanson et?al. 2009). Armed conflicts not only seriously impact social an...
Article
Full-text available
More than 80% of recent major armed conflicts have taken place in biodiversity hotspots, including the Tropical Andes which is home to the world's highest concentrations of bird, mammal, and amphibian species, and more than ten percent of all vascular plant species (Mittermeier et al. 2004; Hanson et al. 2009). Armed conflicts not only seriously im...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have altered terrestrial ecosystems for millennia [1], yet wilderness areas still remain as vital refugia where natural ecological and evolutionary processes operate with minimal human disturbance [2-4], underpinning key regional- and planetary-scale functions [5, 6]. Despite the myriad values of wilderness areas-as critical strongholds for...
Article
Full-text available
Human pressures on the environment are changing spatially and temporally, with profound implications for the planet's biodiversity and human economies. Here we use recently available data on infrastructure, land cover and human access into natural areas to construct a globally standardized measure of the cumulative human footprint on the terrestria...
Article
Full-text available
Remotely-sensed and bottom-up survey information were compiled on eight variables measuring the direct and indirect human pressures on the environment globally in 1993 and 2009. This represents not only the most current information of its type, but also the first temporally-consistent set of Human Footprint maps. Data on human pressures were acquir...
Data
Supplementary Figures 1-2, Supplementary Tables 1-2 and Supplementary Note 1