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A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets

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The Global Deal for Nature (GDN) is a time-bound, science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth. Pairing the GDN and the Paris Climate Agreement would avoid catastrophic climate change, conserve species, and secure essential ecosystem services. New findings give urgency to this union: Less than half of the terrestrial realm is intact, yet conserving all native ecosystems—coupled with energy transition measures—will be required to remain below a 1.5°C rise in average global temperature. The GDN targets 30% of Earth to be formally protected and an additional 20% designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030, to stay below 1.5°C. We highlight the 67% of terrestrial ecoregions that can meet 30% protection, thereby reducing extinction threats and carbon emissions from natural reservoirs. Freshwater and marine targets included here extend the GDN to all realms and provide a pathway to ensuring a more livable biosphere.
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SCIENCE POLICY
A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles,
milestones, and targets
E. Dinerstein1*, C. Vynne1, E. Sala2, A. R. Joshi3, S. Fernando1, T. E. Lovejoy4, J. Mayorga2,5,
D. Olson6, G. P. Asner7, J. E. M. Baillie2, N. D. Burgess8, K. Burkart9, R. F. Noss10, Y. P. Zhang11,
A. Baccini12, T. Birch13, N. Hahn1,14, L. N. Joppa15, E. Wikramanayake16
The Global Deal for Nature (GDN) is a time-bound, science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life
on Earth. Pairing the GDN and the Paris Climate Agreement would avoid catastrophic climate change, conserve
species, and secure essential ecosystem services. New findings give urgency to this union: Less than half of the
terrestrial realm is intact, yet conserving all native ecosystems—coupled with energy transition measures—will
be required to remain below a 1.5°C rise in average global temperature. The GDN targets 30% of Earth to be for-
mally protected and an additional 20% designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030, to stay below 1.5°C. We
highlight the 67% of terrestrial ecoregions that can meet 30% protection, thereby reducing extinction threats
and carbon emissions from natural reservoirs. Freshwater and marine targets included here extend the GDN to
all realms and provide a pathway to ensuring a more livable biosphere.
INTRODUCTION
Nature conservation efforts, like climate change policies, are being re-
assessed in the midst of a planetary emergency (1). Climate concerns
rightly prompted the 2015 Paris Agreement, which has facilitated co-
ordinated global action not only among governments but also among
companies, cities, and citizens. Research since then suggests that efforts
to stabilize the climate and avoid the undesirable outcomes of >1.5°C
warming will require a rapid reduction in land conversion and a mor-
atorium by about 2035 (2). The most logical path to avoid the ap-
proaching crisis is maintaining and restoring at least 50% of the Earth’s
land area as intact natural ecosystems, in combination with energy
transition measures (2,3). Those measures by themselves will likely be
insufficient and must be augmented by restoration to create negative
emissions to offset the likely clearing and release of greenhou se gases that
will occur until a 2035 moratorium can be reached.
Natural ecosystems are key to maintaining human prosperity in
a warming world (4,5), and 65% of Paris Agreement signatories have
committed to restoring or conserving ecosystems (6). Intact forests,
and especially tropical forests, sequester twice as much carbon as
planted monocultures (7,8). These findings make forest conserva-
tion a critical approach to combat global warming. Because about
two-thirds of all species on Earth are found in natural forests, main-
taining intact forest is vital to prevent mass extinction (9). However,
carbon sequestration and storage extends far beyond rainforests:
Peatlands, tundra, mangroves, and ancient grasslands are also im-
portant carbon storehouses and conserve distinct assemblages of
plants and animals. Further, the importance of intact habitats ex-
tends to the freshwater and marine realms, with studies pointing
to least disturbed wetlands and coastal habitats being superior in
their ability to store carbon when compared with more disturbed
sites (10,11).
Opportunities to address both climate change and the extinction
crisis are time bound. Climate models show that we are approaching
a tipping point: If current trends in habitat conversion and emissions
do not peak by 2030, then it will become impossible to remain below
1.5°C (2,12,13). Similarly, if current land conversion rates, poach-
ing of large animals, and other threats are not markedly slowed or
halted in the next 10 years, “points of no return” will be reached for
multiple ecosystems and species (13). It has become clear that be-
yond 1.5°C, the biology of the planet becomes gravely threatened
because ecosystems literally begin to unravel (12,14). Degradation
of the natural environment also diminishes quality of life, threatens
public health, and triggers human displacement because of lost ac-
cess to clean drinking water, reduced irrigation of important subsis-
tence crops, and exacerbation of climate-related storm and drought
events (15). These occurrences will become increasingly worse with-
out substantial action over the next few years. Additionally, human
migrations, triggered by climate change–induced droughts and sea-
level rise in combination with extreme weather events, could dis-
place more than 100 million people by 2050, mostly in the southern
hemisphere (12,13).
A companion pact to the Paris Agreement—a Global Deal for
Nature (GDN)—could help ensure that climate targets are met while
preventing species extinctions and the rapid erosion of biodiversity
and ecosystem services in the terrestrial, freshwater, and marine
realms. The concept of a GDN as a policy mechanism emerged from
an earlier study restricted to protecting biodiversity in the terrestrial
realm (16). We expand that perspective to the freshwater and ma-
rine realms while simultaneously lending support to an alternative
pathway to remaining below 1.5°C that relies heavily on aggressive
conservation of remaining habitats. This approach not only safe-
guards biodiversity but also is the cheapest and fastest alternative
for addressing climate change and is not beholden to developing
carbon removal technologies unlikely to be effective or to scale in
the time-bound nature of the current twin crises (4). Here, we offer
1RESOLVE, Washington, DC, USA. 2National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, USA.
3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA. 4George Mason University, Fairfax,
VA, USA. 5University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA. 6Zoological
Society of London, London, UK. 7Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA. 8UN
Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK. 9Leonardo
DiCaprio Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, USA. 10Florida Institute for Conservation
Science, Chuluota, FL, USA. 11State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution,
Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223,
China. 12Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, MA, USA. 13Google, Mountain
View, CA, USA. 14Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA. 15Microsoft, Redmond,
WA, USA. 16Environmental Foundation Ltd., Colombo, Sri Lanka.
*Corresponding author. Email: edinerstein@resolv.org
Copyright © 2019
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a policy framework based on scientific guidelines that could pair
nature and climate deals, be mutually reinforcing, and recommend
time-bound milestones and targets. We identify specific threats and
drivers of biodiversity loss, and discuss costs of implementation of
a GDN. Finally, we introduce breakthrough technologies for moni-
toring progress.
SCIENTIFIC GUIDANCE FOR A GDN
Atmospheric sciences, Earth sciences, and remote sensing provide
the main scientific and technological basis supporting the Paris Cli-
mate Agreement. The science of conservation biology underpins the
GDN and is based on five fundamental goals: (1) represent all native
ecosystem types and successional stages across their natural range of
variation—or “representation”; (2) maintain viable populations of all
native species in natural patterns of abundance and distribution—
or “saving species”; (3) maintain ecological function and ecosystem
services; (4) maximize carbon sequestration by natural ecosystems;
and (5) address environmental change to maintain evolutionary pro-
cesses and adapt to the impacts of climate change (17).
A practical application of many previous researchers has been to
determine the spatial dimensions required to support goals 1, 2, 3, and
5 within large biogeographic units such as ecoregions—ecosystems
of regional extent, terrestrial, freshwater, or marine—or regions hold-
ing concentrations of endemic species (biodiversity hotspots), the latter
of which are typically delineated as clusters of ecoregions (16,18).
Carbon sequestration is a more recent concern.
Protected areas are the cornerstone of biodiversity conservation,
and studies document that well-managed reserves are far more ef-
fective in safeguarding biodiversity than are other forms of land use
(19). Studies across ecoregions and other large units show that to
achieve the five goals of conservation biology requires in the range
of 25 to 75% of land or water under some form of conservation man-
agement (2022). Several efforts have identified a middle ground of
50% protected to ensure conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem
services upon which humanity depends (16,20,23,24). Exactly how
much should be protected to maintain the diversity of life and secure
the benefits nature provides is an empirical question that is best de-
termined per biogeographic unit—from the ground up—to better
inform global numerical targets. This finer spatial scale delineation
adds efficiency by accounting for ecoregion-level patterns of ende-
mism, beta-diversity, and connectivity requirements to maintain
viable populations of area-sensitive species (16).
To ensure representation of native ecosystem types, goal 1, ter-
restrial ecoregions have been a widely used ecological classification
system for conservation planning for nearly three decades (25). The
rationale is that a global map of ecoregions can serve as the frame-
work to ensure creation of networks of protected areas that repre-
sent the widest array of habitats and, by extension, conserve the
widest range of species and their unique adaptations to their envi-
ronments. A recent global review tested the distribution of more than
200 million species records of plants, animals, and fungi against the
map of terrestrial ecoregions (Fig.1A) and revealed sharp, statisti-
cally significant discontinuities in species ranges across boundaries
(25). Thus, ecoregions effectively represent similar clusters of not
only habitat types but also species—underpinning analyses to ad-
dress goals 1 and 2 of the GDN (25).
To ensure that global protection efforts reinforce conserving
viable populations (goal 2), many studies over the past two decades
provide digital distributional data on well-known vertebrate taxa,
some plants, a few invertebrate groups, and their levels of endanger-
ment [e.g. (26)]. Many of these studies mapped distributions of taxa
with limited ranges (endemics) or highly threatened species. Studies
vary in spatial scale from identifying species limited to a single site, to
endemics confined to narrow ranges, or to larger aggregations of rare
or threatened species, and have been amalgamated within frameworks
such as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) or larger Biodiversity Hotspots
(18,27). At the other extreme are wide-ranging species that occur at
low densities and often require extensive areas complemented with
use management to maintain viable populations. Wide-ranging or
area-sensitive large mammalian herbivores and carnivores require
stepping stone or contiguous habitat between reserves to allow
migrations, seasonal movements, and gene flow (28). Connectivity among
reserves also becomes vital for ensuring species persistence in a changing
world and for fostering ecosystem resilience (goals 3 and 5) (29).
The principles described above apply to the ocean as well. Ma-
rine ecoregions, defined for both coastal and pelagic provinces, de-
limit regions with distinct species assemblages often characterized by
regional endemics (30,31). Marine protected areas (MPAs), and in
particular fully protected marine reserves, have proven much more
effective than other actions (e.g., fisheries management) in protect-
ing and restoring biodiversity, increasing yields in adjacent fisheries,
and enhancing ecosystem resilience (32). In addition, management of
fisheries through either marine reserves or effort control produces
identical yields under a reasonable set of assumptions (33), provid-
ing support for half of the ocean closed to fishing. On average, spe-
cies richness is 21% higher and biomass of fish is six times greater
within marine reserves than in adjacent unprotected areas (24). Ma-
rine reserves help restore the complexity of ecosystems through a
chain of ecological effects (trophic cascades) once the abundance of
large animals recovers sufficiently (34). Although marine reserves
work best for species with limited movement ranges, large reserves
can also protect large predators that conduct transoceanic migra-
tions not only if reserves capture reproduction and nursery habitats
but also through genetic selection (35). Marine reserves may not be
immune to the effects of climate change, but reserves with com-
plex ecosystems are more resilient than unprotected areas (36). Stud-
ies suggest that, on average, more than 30% of the ocean should be
protected to achieve a series of environmental and socioeconomic
objectives (22).
The current global protected area targets agreed by the Conven-
tion on Biological Diversity under what is called “Aichi Target 11”
set coverage targets for the year 2020—17% in the terrestrial realm
and 10% in the marine realm. These are interim measures that are
politically driven but not science based and are widely viewed in the
scientific literature as inadequate to avoid extinctions or halt the
erosion of biodiversity (20). Compounding the problem is that only
about half of the 14.9% of the terrestrial realm currently covered by
protected areas is also connected (37). Significantly increasing the
percent of connected protected area networks under a GDN will
thus be essential to achieve representation while also ensuring that
viable populations are conserved and ecological and evolutionary
processes are maintained (37).
A growing body of research documenting the inherent intercon-
nection between carbon sequestration and biodiversity lends further
support for a proposal to pair a GDN with the Paris Accord. Carbon-
rich ecosystems, by definition, sequester (both store and pump) the
most carbon from the atmosphere. This carbon sequestration service
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is key to climate stabilization and to climate change mitigation. It is
no coincidence that some of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on
land—natural forests—also harbor high levels of biodiversity. Evo-
lution has generated carbon-rich forests by packing in long-lived
trees that also feed stable soil carbon storage pools. This packing
effect is made possible by high levels of coexistence among diverse
species and growth forms, and this coexistence has been made pos-
sible by the biotic interactions that generate competition and de-
fense. It is the very pests, pathogens, pollinators, decomposers, and
predators that comprise a tropical forest that generated the carbon- rich
Fig. 1. The world’s 846 terrestrial ecoregions and depiction of 30% protection by the 2030 milestone. (A) The 846 terrestrial ecoregions. (B) Levels of protection by 2030.
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growth forms (in both wood and soil) that take the carbon out of the
atmosphere.
Even in the world’s widespread savannas, carbon sequestration
is enhanced by biodiversity. Herbivores are key to plant growth as
well as soil carbon sequestration. Predators are key to maintaining
herbivore balance with primary production. Too many herbivores
result in lower carbon storage, but too few predators result in over-
investment in plant biomass, which leads to off-scale fires and losses
to the atmosphere. In the ocean realm, from coral reef to blue wa-
ter, biodiversity is part and parcel to the flux of atmospheric carbon
to stored carbonates and deep ocean sediments. Without bio diversity,
this system shuts down as well. Studies across multiple realms demon-
strate a loss of carbon potential as the biodiverse systems are degraded
or destroyed (5,10,11).
The nexus of climate and biodiversity science offers chilling sce-
narios of the unraveling of biotic systems if temperatures exceed a
1.5°C rise in average global temperature (14). Climate models and
vegetation models often underestimate the sensitivity of ecosystems
due to idiosyncratic relationships between species. Clear examples
include (i) coral polyps rejecting their algal symbionts causing bleach-
ing events, (ii) native bark beetles producing massive tree mortality in
coniferous forests, and (iii) debilitating infestation of ticks affecting
reindeer, moose, and other cold-climate large ungulates. Historically,
we know that individual species were able to move during past cli-
mate swings such that ecosystems disassemble and surviving species
assemble into novel configurations. However, in the current climate
crisis and with reduced connectivity of natural landscapes, species
may be unable to move fast enough to track shifting climatic enve-
lopes or at all (38). Tropical rain forests will likely revert to savanna-
like vegetation in some species-rich regions, and tropical cloud forests,
home to a disproportionate number of endemic species, will be se-
verely compromised by reduction in cloud-borne moisture. These
strong feedback loops render the planet impossible to manage biolog-
ically. The time-bound targets of the GDN will have the greatest
short-term effect on saving species and habitats deemed most sensi-
tive to rapid climate change (39).
PRIORITIES OF A GDN
Our objective is to present scientific guidance for three major themes
that should be included in a GDN and a short list of key milestones
and targets that could underpin these themes, which would be
complementary and, in many cases, reinforcing of the Paris Climate
Agreement. These themes are (1) protecting biodiversity, (2) mitigating
climate change, and (3) reducing threats to ecosystem intactness
and persistence of species. We also propose that the GDN embrace
monitoring progress from the ground, or below the sea surface , to s pace,
using powerful new technologies, much of it publicly available.
Theme 1: Protecting biodiversity
We support calls to conserve at least 30% of the Earth’s surface by
2030 (40). This is viewed as a milestone toward the larger end goal
of half of the planet protected by 2050, if not sooner, made else-
where (16). The 30% by 2030 milestone has also been proposed by
the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
and its member organizations as a critical step for marine conserva-
tion (IUCN Resolution: WCC-2016-Res-050-EN).
These global milestones and targets are useful: They are easy to
comprehend and help simplify policy and communications strate-
gies. But because biodiversity is unevenly distributed, conservation
biologists and planners must be careful to avoid two major risks
inherent in a single global percentage: (i) adding more land to reach
the global target that is similar to what is already well accounted for
at the expense of underrepresented habitats and species, and (ii) the
temptation by some governments to protect low-conflict areas that
may be lower priority from a biodiversity perspective (41). Adher-
ing to the first goal of biodiversity conservation—representation—
greatly reduces these risks. This is the rationale for setting milestones
and targets at both levels—global and ecoregional—and shows how
the latter helps to operationalize the former to better conserve life
on Earth (Table1).
To illustrate how biodiversity might be protected under theme 1,
we conducted two related assessments: (i) how using the 846 eco-
regions as a “conservation template” can achieve increased represen-
tation of critical habitats and species in networks of well-connected
protected areas, and (ii) how that 30% fraction could be distributed
to better protect areas of concentrated terrestrial biodiversity—from
narrow-range endemic species in fragmented landscapes to endan-
gered large vertebrate populations ranging across intact primary for-
ests and grasslands. The remaining 20% of intact and semi-intact
land is also essential for climate targets to avoid negative impacts on
humanity and species populations (15). In addition to expansion of
protected areas, we propose climate stabilization areas (CSAs) that
would meet the criteria for Other Effective Area-based Conserva-
tion Measures (OECMs), recently defined by the Parties to the Con-
vention on Biological Diversity (42). Working in cohort with the
Paris Agreement, CSAs would concentrate in habitats like mangroves,
tundra, other peatlands, ancient grasslands, and boreal and tropical
rainforest biomes that store vast reserves of carbon and other green-
house gases, and prevent large-scale land cover change. These com-
plementary approaches are detailed below.
To assess how reserve expansion to meet the 30% by 2030 mile-
stone could improve representation, we sorted the world’s 846 ter-
restrial ecoregions into four categories (Fig.1B). These categories
were created by the intersection of the most recent database of pro-
tected areas (43), showing a total of 14.9% of the terrestrial realm with
the amount of remaining habitat—totaling 49.9% of natural habitat
across the 14 terrestrial biomes—and partitioned by ecoregion. This
total sums all intact and semi-intact habitats but excludes permanent
ice in Greenland and the highly degraded Sahara ecoregions (table S1).
The categories are as follows:
1) Milestone Achieved: ≥30% protected (26% of 846 ecoregions;
n=219);
2) High Potential: less than 30% currently protected, but enough
habitat remains outside protected areas to reach 30% by 2030 (41%
of 846 ecoregions; n=347);
3) Moderate Potential: the sum of area protected and habitat re-
maining outside protected areas is between 20 and 30%. These eco-
regions could meet the 2030 target with some restoration (10% of
846 ecoregions; n=88); and
4) Nature Imperiled: <20% total habitat remaining (protected +
unprotected), often much less (23% of 846 ecoregions; n=192).
Achieving ecoregion milestones of 30% protected by 2030 would
greatly improve representation in the global targets (Tables1and2).
Of the 347 High Potential (category 2) ecoregions, a median of 47%
habitat remains outside protected areas. This provides the possibility
for changes in land designation to increase the total number of
ecoregions achieving 30% protection from 219 (26% of total eco regions)
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to 566 ecoregions (67% of the total). A further 88 ecoregions in cate-
gory 3 (10% of total) can achieve the 30% by 2030 milestone with
some restoration. The 566 ecoregions (categories 1 and 2) that
have reached or could reach 30% protected by 2030 are distributed
among all of the 14 terrestrial biomes. The most complete represen-
tation would fall within the Tundra, Boreal, and Tropical and Sub-
tropical Coniferous biomes (Table1). The least representation would
be in the Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests and the
Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands biomes (Table1),
the latter of which is the center of global food production.
One hundred and thirteen ecoregions (13%) have already ex-
ceeded 50% protection. Yet, these rarely include the largest eco-
regions containing the vast carbon reservoirs. Thus, a critical caveat
in the representation approach is that some ecoregions may need
much more area under protection to sustain species and processes
and avoid biospheric feedback from release of greenhouse gases after
conversion (see below discussion on CSAs for Amazon, Congo Basin,
Southeast Asia, boreal, and tundra). At the other end of the spec-
trum, species extinctions will likely be most swift and severe in the
192 Nature Imperiled ecoregions, category 4 (Fig.1B and table S1).
Thus, efforts to bring the Nature Imperiled ecoregions to a protec-
tion level of 10% emerges as a clear 2030 restoration and recovery
milestone. These ecoregions constitute known centers of endemism
but have only a median of 4% protected habitat and 1% remaining
outside protected areas. An approach to create a “species safety
net”—to ensure the representation of vanishing biota ranging from
single-site endemics to intact large mammal assemblages requiring
large landscapes—is presented below (and more in greater detail in
Fig.2A).
Range-restricted and area-sensitive species and conservation
of beta-diversity
Saving species and populations is a key feature of a GDN, targeting
first the rarest, most range-limited species under the most threat for
immediate conservation (44). To ensure that under the 30% by 2030
milestone these additions by ecoregion include irreplaceable sites
(e.g., those with narrow endemic taxa found nowhere else), we
Table 1. Increased representation by biome of ecoregions achieving 30% protection by 2030.
GDN category Through increased
protection only
Through increased
protection and
restoration
Biome name No. of
ecoregions
(1) Milestone
Reached
(2) High
Potential
(3) Moderate
Potential
(4) Nature
Imperiled
Ecoregions
that can
reach 30 ×
30 (#)
Ecoregions
that can
reach 30 ×
30 (%)
Ecoregions
that can
reach 30 ×
30 (#)
Ecoregions
that can
reach 30 ×
30 (%)
Boreal Forests/Taiga 26 3 18 2 3 21 81 23 88
Deserts and Xeric
Shrublands 101 17 51 6 27 68 67 74 73
Flooded Grasslands
and Savannas 25 14 3 4 4 17 68 21 84
Mangroves 20 9 6 1 4 15 75 16 80
Mediterranean Forests,
Woodlands, and Scrub 40 10 12 10 8 22 55 32 80
Montane Grasslands
and Shrublands 46 22 11 2 11 33 72 35 76
Temperate Broadleaf
and Mixed Forests 83 16 32 11 24 48 58 59 71
Temperate Conifer
Forests 47 9 21 10 7 30 64 40 85
Temperate Grasslands,
Savannas, and
Shrublands
48 0 20 5 23 20 42 25 52
Tropical and Subtropical
Coniferous Forests 15 3 11 0 1 14 93 14 93
Tropical and Subtropical
Dry Broadleaf Forests 56 6 15 11 24 21 38 32 57
Tropical and Subtropical
Grasslands, Savannas,
and Shrublands
58 13 19 8 18 32 55 40 69
Tropical and Subtropical
Moist Broadleaf
Forests
230 67 108 18 37 175 76 193 84
Tundra 51 30 20 0 1 50 98 50 98
TOTAL 846 219 347 88 192 566 67 654 77
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intersected several widely used fine-scale maps of biodiversity dis-
tributions with the ecoregion map and the current database on ter-
restrial protected areas (45).For each of these overlays, we calculated
the area for that theme found in each ecoregion that is currently un-
protected but not accounted for by other overlays (to avoid double
counting, as the spatial extent of these various mapping efforts de-
picting species rarity often overlaps considerably). We summed these
extensions to present the percent and amount (in km2) added to the
global total toward the 30% by 2030 milestone (Fig.2). These data
layers that are included inform milestones and targets (Table2):
1) The Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites that are currently
unprotected (46). AZE sites pinpoint extreme rarity by seeking to
protect those birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, cycads, and
conifers whose entire global distribution is limited to a single site
and ranked as Critically Endangered or Endangered. The total is
928, of which 34% are unprotected (Table2). All unprotected AZE
sites, plus a 1-km buffer surrounding them, are included in the 2030
milestone. These 320 unprotected sites, plus buffer, add 0.46% to the
expansion of the global terrestrial protected areas, or 619,490 km2
(Fig.2A and fig. S1A). In the marine realm, unprotected AZE sites
represent 9955 km2 and would contribute less than 0.1% to the ex-
pansion of the global MPAs (Fig.2B).
2) A map of range rarity derived from the IUCN Red List data
for the world’s birds, mammals, and amphibians, showing where
sites supporting high densities of narrow-range species remain un-
protected. The unprotected hotspots of range rarity add 0.12% to
the expansion of the global terrestrial protected areas total percent
or 162,491 km2, not including AZE sites (Fig.2A and fig. S1B). In
the ocean, conservation priority hotspots (top 5%) for range-restricted
species (47) represent 14.7 million km2 and can account for 4.75%
of the expansion of the global MPAs (Fig.2B and fig. S1C).
3) A map of the density of threatened species from the IUCN
Red List, showing where concentrations of species threatened with
extinction remain unprotected. This layer includes nearly 64,000 spe-
cies evaluated to date by the IUCN Red List, with almost 20,000 deemed
as threatened with extinction. The unprotected polygons could add
Fig. 2. Increasing representation of important terrestrial, freshwater, and marine biodiversity sites for global 2030 targets. (A) Terrestrial and freshwater bio-
diversity sites. (B) Marine biodiversity sites. RR, IUCN Sites of Range Rarity; TS, Threatened Species Sites.
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Table 2. Combined milestones and measurable targets for a GDN to better protect biodiversity and biosphere function in the terrestrial, freshwater,
and marine realms.
Feature 2018 Benchmark Milestone for 2030 Target outcome for 2050 References
Protecting natural habitats and species
Global percent natural habitat protected
Global surface protected area
coverage for Terrestrial,
Freshwater, and
Marine Realms
Under Aichi Biodiversity
Target 11 currently:
(i) 14.9% of the world’s
terrestrial and inland
waters, and
(ii) Approximately 4% of the
global ocean is covered by
implemented MPAs but only
2% in fully protected areas
30% in protected areas:
(i) 30% of terrestrial surface
(incorporates freshwater),
strategically located to better
protect biodiversity and
biosphere function
(ii) at least 30% of each ocean
habitat in fully to highly
protected MPAs
(iii) an additional 20% surface
area designated as CSAs
50% in protected areas
composed of:
(i) 50% of terrestrial surface
(incorporates freshwater),
strategically located to better
protect biodiversity and
biosphere function
(ii) networks of fully to highly
protected MPAs cover at least
30% of exclusive economic
zones and 80% of the high seas
(24, 40, 43)
Biodiversity representation by ecoregions (terrestrial and freshwater)
Ecoregion-based
representation in global
protected area system
(i) Less than half of the world’s
846 terrestrial ecoregions
have at least 17% of their
area in protected areas
(ii) Only one-third of the 232
marine ecoregions (coastal)
have at least 10% of their
area protected
(i) 300 terrestrial ecoregions have
reached half protected;
563 terrestrial ecoregions have
reached 30% protected
(ii) All marine ecoregions
have reached at least
30% protected
(i) 650 terrestrial ecoregions half
protected
(ii) All marine ecoregions at least
half protected
(16)
Priority natural sites and species within ecoregions
Alliance for Zero Extinction
sites
56% of 600 AZE sites protected 100% of 600 sites are effectively
conserved including
1-km buffer
100% of target species have IUCN
status improved
(46)
IUCN range rarity of vertebrate
species
Rasterized map of hotspots 50% of areas identified on
map of hotspots of range
rarity protected
100% of areas with hotspots of
threatened and small-ranged
species protected
(92)
Key Biodiversity Areas 15,000+ KBAs identified as of
2018; 60% protected in 2018
90% of extant and future,
formally identified KBAs are
protected, including a 1-km
buffer around all KBAs
100% of extant and future,
formally identified KBAs are
protected, including a 1-km
buffer around all KBAs
(27)
High Biodiversity Importance
Ecoregions
455 HBIEs 11.4% new protected areas
added to reach 30% globally
Addition of all other megafaunal
areas overlapping with
carbon sinks as CSAs
Fig. S1H
Specific management actions
targeting wide-ranging
megafauna and large
mammal migration routes
As examples, range collapse
and steep declines in
populations of African
elephants, most rhinoceros
species, and many tiger
populations. Rampant
poaching in many regions;
historic migration routes of
large mammals under threat
from development
(i) Populations of 10 target
species are doubled from 2018
baseline by 2030
(ii) Sport and commercial hunting
of endangered megafauna
and all trade in live animals
and parts are banned
(iii) 10 migration hotspots are
secured and routes protected
as globally recognized
corridors
(i) Populations of 20 target species
are doubled
(ii) Restoration of relatively intact
megafaunal assemblages in
40 priority landscapes
(iii) 20 migration hotspots are
secured and protected as
globally recognized corridors
(iv) Achieving the above three
targets leads to a delisting of
these megafaunal species by
the IUCN Red List
(28, 49, 71)
Primary habitats Combined, old-growth or intact
habitats across all biomes
cover less than 23% of the
Earth’s surface; for some
biomes, few large examples
remain
80% of 2018 extant is placed in
protected areas or OECMs
100% of old-growth habitats under
protected areas or OECMs
(15)
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0.03% to the expansion of the global terrestrial protected areas total
percent or 34,631 km2 excluding overlapping data from the first two
layers (Fig.2A and fig. S1D). Conservation priority hotspots (top 5%)
for threatened marine species (47) represent 8.5 million km2 and ac-
count for 2.8% of the expansion of the global MPAs (Fig.2B and fig. S1E).
4) KBAs map globally important sites that meet a number of bio-
diversity criteria, including the presence of threatened or significant
species (27). Though incomplete for some regions of the world
(e.g. New Guinea), KBAs are identified by national constituencies
using globally standardized criteria and quantitative thresholds and
Table 2. Combined milestones and measurable targets for a GDN to better protect biodiversity and biosphere function in the terrestrial, freshwater,
and marine realms.
Feature 2018 Benchmark Milestone for 2030 Target outcome for 2050 References
Stabilizing and restoring ecosystem function
CSAs as OECMs with the
explicit goals of conserving
the carbon storehouses and
global forest cover
(i) Potential CSAs are currently
intact and
(ii) 2017 forest cover =
11.61 m km2
(i) Designated CSAs are 80%
intact and 80% conserved
through OECMs
(ii) International and national
protection for all mangrove,
coastal marshes, wetlands,
seagrass beds, swamp forest,
peat forest, peatlands by
2030 and
(iii) 80% natural forest cover
remains intact globally
(i) Designated CSAs remain intact
as OECMs
(ii) Increase in forest cover via
Bonn Challenge and other
means by 10%
(3)
Indigenous lands Indigenous peoples’ lands
account for 37% of all
remaining natural lands on
Earth and store >293
gigatons of carbon
High-priority indigenous lands
that self-nominate and are
identified as crucial to
contributing to 2030 global
targets are declared as OECMs
with tenure and management
financing secure
All high-priority indigenous lands
self-nominated as OECMs
receive designation, tenure
rights, and support for
management effectiveness
(74)
Maintain and restore
connectivity of terrestrial
protected areas
7.5% terrestrial protected areas
well connected
20% terrestrial protected areas
well connected
40% protected areas
well connected
(37)
Maintain and restore
connectivity of
inland waters
More than 800,000 dams and
45,000+ large dams exist;
more than half of the world’s
rivers blocked by large dams,
thousands of smaller dams
being planned, 35% of
wetlands have been lost
since 1970
(i) No further planning or
building of large- to
medium-sized dams on the
world’s rivers; concentration of
dams on tributaries with
existing structures
(ii) Maintain two-thirds of all
headwaters of the Earth’s
major river systems
undammed by 2030 through
protection and removal of
blocking infrastructure
(iii) Protect and restore riparian
habitats along one-third of all
rivers by 2030
(iv) Adequate protection and
1-km buffer zones for all
RAMSAR wetlands by 2030
(v) Protection of one-third of the
world’s forested upper
watersheds by 2030
(i) Restoration of 25% of the
world’s rivers to free-flowing
state by 2050 through removal
of dams and barrages
(ii) Protection and restoration of
riparian habitats along
two-thirds of all rivers by 2050
(iii) Adequate protection and 1-km
buffer zones for all globally
mapped wetlands by 2050
(iv) Protection of one-half of the
world’s forested upper
watersheds by 2050
(57, 93)
Maintain and restore
connectivity of marine
waters
Scant formal protection of
critical marine habitats
(reproduction, nurseries) for
threatened species and
migratory corridors for
endangered species of fish,
marine mammals, and sea
turtles
(i) Full protection of all critical
habitats (reproduction,
feeding, and nurseries) for
threatened species
(ii) Full protection of critical
migratory corridors within
local networks of MPAs for
endangered species of fish,
marine mammals, and
sea turtles
(i) Full protection of all critical
habitats (reproduction, feeding,
and nurseries) for commercial
and threatened species
(ii) Full protection of critical
migratory corridors within local
networks of MPAs for
commercial and endangered
species
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thus are useful to guide the expansion of protected area networks.
Currently, approximately 15,000 such sites have been designated, with
about 60% within IUCN category I to IV reserves (27). Adding in the
unprotected portion of KBAs and a 1-km buffer expands the global
terrestrial protected areas total by 1.3% percent or 1,759,341 km2
(Fig.2A and fig. S1D). Unprotected KBAs in the oceans represent 5.8
million km2 and can contribute 1.6% to the expansion of the global
MPAs (Fig.2B and fig. S1G).
Summing the total area of all of these unprotected sites (plus 1-km
buffers) from the first four layers, and removing double counting,
adds 1.9% to the existing 14.9% of the terrestrial realm and 9.2% to
the existing 7.3% of the marine realm already designated for protec-
tion (45). The unexpectedly small area contribution of these irre-
placeable terrestrial sites is due to the high spatial overlap present
among layers 1 to 4.
5) The remaining contribution to the milestone of 30% by 2030
is drawn from High Biodiversity Importance Ecoregions (HBIEs)
that depict 455 of the most biologically distinct ecoregions by biome
(fig. S1H). It is a slightly revised and updated map of the most bio-
diverse ecoregions on Earth (48). This is subdivided into three themes
encompassing small fragments or larger landscapes that remain un-
protected and not covered in the above four layers:
i) The 36 Biodiversity Hotspots are included in the HBIE layer
and contain a combined total of 114 category 3 and category 4 eco-
regions, the most threatened categories. Adding the remaining un-
protected habitat fragments found in these ecoregions contributes
0.51% or 439,569 km2 to the expansion of the global terrestrial pro-
tected areas total (Fig.2A and fig. S1I).
ii) Biodiversity Hotspots (fig. S1F) represent educated guesses
(or sometimes comprehensive lists) by botanists of regions where
plant endemism is concentrated globally. These lists are often based
on counts of endemics at particular sites—a depiction known as
alpha-diversity. Equally important as a conservation metric, but rarely
measured, is beta-diversity—the replacement or turnover of the rosters
of plant communities with distance or along elevational gradients
(fig. S1J). High beta-diversity ecoregions are most common in five
biomes: Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests; Tropical
and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests; Mediterranean Climate
Shrublands; Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas, and
Woodlands; and the tropical and subtropical ecoregions found in
Desert and Xeric Shrublands. Many of the ecoregions in these five
biomes overlap with the biodiversity hotspots; adding in unprotected
habitat in some missing ecoregions adds 6.9% to the global total or
9,188,027 km2 (Fig.2A).
iii) The strongholds of large wide-ranging species that require vast
areas to maintain viable populations are another important metric
of biodiversity value. HBIEs capture where these large mammals occur
by overlaying a map of intact vertebrate assemblages (fig. S1K) (49).
Adding in unprotected intact large mammal habitat in some missing
ecoregions adds 8.5% to the global total or 11,304,493 km2 (Fig.2A
and fig. S1H).
Conserving the unprotected terrestrial areas selected above would
add 17.7% to the existing 14.9% currently protected and exceed
the 30% milestone while creating a more representative global
system of protected areas that incorporate the major aspects of
terrestrial biodiversity (Fig.2A). Our approach uses what we
consider to be the most important biodiversity features, but we
recognize that there are multiple pathways to achieve a 30% pro-
tected milestone.
Complete protection requires closer to 50% of the Earth’s land
surface achieved by combining the above analysis with 20% desig-
nated as CSAs (see below section and Table2).
Wide-ranging megafauna and migration routes
The future survival and recovery of megafauna will, in particular,
require additional strategies beyond those above for prioritizing sites
that require immediate attention. Many of our Earth’s large terres-
trial vertebrate species are suffering range collapse and extirpation of
populations and could disappear by the end of this century or sooner
if intensive habitat conversion, poaching, and overhunting continue
given the slow rates of population recovery characteristic of most
megafaunal species (50). Similar sharp declines are being observed
in freshwater and marine large vertebrate species that figure prom-
inently as protein sources for billions of people (51). Large mammal
migrations, one of the most outstanding natural phenomena on Earth,
are disrupted globally as traditional migratory routes are cut off and
habitat lost (28). Ultimately, the loss of large herbivores, ecosystem
engineers, and top carnivores can produce detrimental effects across
entire food webs, termed “trophic cascades” (52).
GDN targets can address maintaining megafaunal populations
and landscapes in multiple ways not only through direct protection
but also by promoting connectivity (Table2). The current CBD Aichi
Target 11 calls for “well-connected systems of protected areas,”
although only a rudimentary definition of “well-connected” and in-
adequate guidance on how to measure connectivity is provided (37).
Corridors and connectivity
A key target of the GDN would be to reconnect protected areas via
corridors along environmental gradients, in riparian networks, and
between megafaunal reserves (Table2). The amount of area required
and how this would affect the protection or restoration target should
be subject to a major study based on the needs of the most wide-
ranging, area-sensitive species. Replanting of native trees or simply
allowing degraded forest lands to recover as forest corridors could
create an ecological road map guiding where restoration can have the
maximum benefits for biodiversity.
Old-growth habitats
Before the industrial revolution, primary or old-growth habitats covered
most of Earth’s 846 terrestrial ecoregions. Today, these primary habi-
tats, as represented by unlogged forests, ungrazed deserts, ancient grass-
lands, and savannas—and in the marine realm, the untrawled seafloor
and unfished seamounts—are now remnants. These ancient repositories
of rich and vulnerable biodiversity are optimal arenas for life-sustaining
processes (53). Clear, time-bound milestones and targets for the above
biodiversity features, including targets for old-growth forests and ever-wet
forests, are included in the GDN and are drawn from the scientific litera-
ture supporting each target (Table2). Protecting habitats that have low
anthropogenic disturbance offers the most cost-effective approach to
conserve the largest number of species and also for their climate resil-
ience and should become obvious targets under the GDN (54). As a prime
example, tropical forests occur on only 7% of the land area, yet they harbor
more than half of the world’s known species and most of these are depen-
dent on primary forest (9,55). The buffering conditions of many complex
“old-growth” habitats also enable local adaptation to climate change for
many vulnerable species. These biologically important areas also serve as car-
bon repositories. For example, ancient grasslands are extremely species rich,
including endemics (53), and they store approximately as much carbon
globally as forests. Because most grassland carbon is stored below-
ground, it is a highly secure and reliable carbon sink, especially in the
face of fire and other climate-sensitive disturbance factors (56).
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The freshwater realm
Freshwater habitats harbor roughly one-third of all vertebrate spe-
cies and 10% of global biodiversity, yet only cover 1% of the planet
(57). Freshwater ecoregions particularly rich in species, endemics,
and intact megafauna are priorities for biodiversity conservation,
as are those where watersheds are largely intact and waterways flow
freely (58). Freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity are among the
most threatened on Earth (57). Many of the protection measures
identified for terrestrial areas cover required actions for freshwater,
and targets for the former benefit the latter. The GDN targets pro-
tecting and restoring 30% of the world’s freshwater ecoregions by
2030 as a vital milestone (Table2).
The marine realm
A meta-analysis of 144 studies showed that, on average, 37% of the
ocean should be strongly protected (preferably in fully protected
marine reserves) to achieve a number of goals: protect biodiversity,
ensure connectivity, avoid species collapse and adverse evolution,
ensure sustainable fisheries, and benefit multiple stakeholders (22).
More than 80% of these objectives can be met with 50% marine re-
serve protection (22). With only 2% of the world’s ocean currently in
fully to highly protected marine reserves (59), these estimates high-
light enormous gaps in marine conservation.
In addition to biodiversity, marine ecosystems are also important
carbon sinks. Coastal ecosystem such as mangroves, salt marshes, and
seagrass beds sequester astonishing amounts of carbon per hectare
and thus play a disproportionately large role in the global capture and
storage of carbon (60,61). Although the spatial extent of the world’s
20 mangrove ecoregion complexes is minute compared to other
biomes (300,294 km2 or 0.23%), conservation and restoration of
mangroves are vital to climate and marine conservation scenarios,
and buffer storm surges and hurricanes.
The ocean also harbors old-growth ecosystems equivalent to pri-
mary forests, such as unfished seamounts with deep corals thousands
of years old (62). In the coastal zone, some seagrass species such as
the Mediterranean Posidonia oceanica have complex belowground
organs that help accrete sediment and bury carbon over millennia
(63). Preserving the vegetative cover of these coastal habitats is im-
portant, but preserving their megafauna is essential, as studies sug-
gest that intact predator populations are critical to maintaining or
growing reserves of carbon stored in marine ecosystems (64). For
example, tiger sharks in seagrass beds in Australia create a “land-
scape of fear,” where sea turtles and dugongs preferentially forage in
seagrass microhabitats that are low in predation risk. The majority
of the habitat, with high predation risk, has greater carbon stocks.
Ongoing efforts are identifying priority areas that will help protect
biodiversity at multiple levels (from species to ecosystems), help
produce food through fish spillover from fully protected reserves,
and help mitigate climate change through the protection and resto-
ration of important carbon sinks. Here, we present general targets
and categories that should be prioritized as part of the GDN (Fig.2B).
The current shortfalls in ocean protection are presented in a re-
vised map of the coastal ecoregions and pelagic provinces of the
world, alongside the global system of MPAs (Fig.3,AandB) (30,31).
Theme 2: Mitigating climate change
Conserving the carbon storehouses: CSAs
Protecting 30% of the Earth as high-priority conservation areas will
be essential but insufficient for holding emissions below 1.5°C (2).
Carbon storehouses, our terrestrial carbon sink, currently absorb
one-quarter of emissions, and the conservation of natural habitats
as stabilization areas under the GDN reinforces this role. Natural
habitats outside protected areas can also be managed to maintain
intactness and enhance conservation of area-sensitive species. These
lands can be considered under the term OECMs (43). CSAs can fit
under the OECM umbrella and contribute to area-based conserva-
tion targets. Simply put, CSAs are areas where conservation of veg-
etative cover occurs and greenhouse gas emissions are prevented,
which can be achieved under various forms of land management. A
key target of the GDN would enhance efforts to maintain at least
85% forest cover in critical areas such as the Amazon. Some parts of
the planet work as a system and need to be managed for a high pro-
portion of intactness to continue to function as a weather machine
for the planet (65,66).
These essential carbon storehouses could be retained and pro-
tected under CSAs. The tundra and boreal biomes, which together
comprise 24,162,700 km2 (approximately 18%) of Earth’s terrestrial
landmass, are exceptional because of their carbon storage [fig. S2A
and (13)]. Examples of forests with high carbon density include the
temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest United States and
Canada, the temperate moist eucalypt forests in southeast Australia,
Congo Basin peat swamp forests, and intact forest reserves in
Malaysian Borneo [e.g., (67,68)]. In recent years, more than 60% of
global emissions from natural habitats (which accounted for 15%
of annual greenhouse gas emissions), stemmed from clearing and
fires in just two provinces—Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, and
Matto Grosso state in Brazil. Protection for these and other “high-
biomass forests” that are disproportionately important in climate
mitigation could be enabled through their designation as CSAs.
Tundra and boreal biomes, aside from extensive belowground car-
bon storage, retain the largest areas of intact large mammal assem-
blages and are home to some of the most extensive and extant large
mammal migrations on Earth (fig. S1K) (28,49). Globally, the world’s
intact large mammal assemblages coincide with the carbon store-
houses and overlap substantially with the world’s remaining wilder-
ness areas, excepting permanent ice in Greenland and in the heavily
degraded, defaunated, and overgrazed ecoregions of the Sahara (fig.
S2B) (15). However, preventing the transformation of large vegetated
regions is not sufficient to maximize their carbon sequestration role.
In some major ecosystems, the presence of large predators and her-
bivores helps store more carbon (69). For example, many large trop-
ical trees with sizeable contributions to carbon stock rely on large
vertebrates for seed dispersal and regeneration (70).
Conservation of tiger habitat provides another example of how
CSAs could also help improve species protection and recovery efforts.
Tigers are habitat generalists, but today, extant populations are largely
restricted to forests, and many of these forested habitats lack formal
protection under IUCN reserves. Approximately 434 protected areas
fall with the tiger’s current range (fig. S3), not all of which contain
breeding tigers, and not a single protected area is large enough to
support a viable population over the long term (71). These adjacent
reserves must be managed as metapopulations, populations linked
by occasional dispersal, and so connectivity, and in many cases
restoring forest corridors, is essential. The sum of all protected areas
in the tiger range is 495,807 km2 or 42% of the total area of all 76 Tiger
Conservation Landscapes combined (fig. S3). Between now and 2030,
only a fraction of the remaining habitat outside formally protected
areas will be incorporated into expanded or new reserves. Yet, enough
habitat remains to achieve the target of a near-tripling the wild tiger
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population (72), and management of this habitat could be supported
under the OECM umbrella as megafaunal landscapes in that part of
the breeding tiger population, especially in India, that occurs outside
formal protected areas. The payoff for climate stabilization is dramatic:
An earlier study showed that forested areas that contain tigers have
three times the carbon density compared to forests and degraded lands
where tigers have been eradicated (71). Restoration in tiger habitat
and other megafaunal landscapes could center on protecting remain-
ing fragments of natural habitat, reconnecting and buffering them
by restoring degraded lands, thus aligning with the Bonn Challenge
that seeks to restore 350 million ha of forest by 2030 (73). The same
rationale could be used to extend protection in high-carbon density
habitats for gibbons and other primates, hornbills and other large
fruit-eating birds, and fruit-eating bats.
The central role of indigenous lands
Potentially prominent among OECMs are indigenous peoples’ lands,
which account for 37% of all remaining natural lands across the Earth,
and these lands store >293 gigatons of carbon (74). Although many of
these lands meet the definition of a protected area, many others may
be appropriately characterized as OECMs. Here, the global policies
articulated in the Paris Agreement and the proposed GDN merge with
addressing human rights. The direction, insights, rights, and voices
of indigenous peoples are essential but rarely published in scientific
journals. The GDN could assist indigenous peoples, where requested,
Fig. 3. Coastal ecoregions, pelagic provinces, and marine protected areas of the world oceans. (A) Coastal ecoregions and pelagic provinces. (B) Map of marine
protected areas.
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to keep lands intact—for hunting areas, protection of traditional life-
styles, or other features—and provide a mechanism to assist these
communities with securing tenure rights. Supporting efforts to main-
tain these lands, many of which are critical to global terrestrial bio-
diversity conservation, in many cases would result in lower rates of
deforestation and better protection of the biodiversity and eco-
system functions upon which these communities depend (75).
Furthermore, more than one-third of the carbon identified in com-
munity lands across the tropics lies in areas without secure tenure
rights. The Amazon Basin, Congo Basin, boreal, tundra, Borneo,
and New Guinea ecoregions all store massive amounts of above-
and belowground carbon (fig. S2A) and overlap greatly with indige-
nous lands.
Theme 3: Reducing major threats
Land conversion and infrastructure development risk compromis-
ing the ability of protected areas and CSAs to protect species and
store carbon. Slowing and stopping the clearing of intact natural
habitat for agriculture, the dominant form of land use today, is crit-
ical as part of the overall strategy to stay below 1.5°C. By increasing
intensification and directing cropland expansion to degraded lands,
and by reducing food waste, the 2050 world food demand could be
met without additional land clearing (76,77). The total length of
paved roads globally is projected to increase by 20 million km (enough
to encircle the Earth more than 600 times), and 90% of all new
infrastructure is slated for the world’s tropical and subtropical bio-
diverse ecosystems (78). Infrastructure and energy development
projects—major sources of fragmentation and penetration into wilder-
ness areas, protected areas, indigenous territories, and CSAs—should
be closely scrutinized (see Table3 for recommended targets and
policies) (79). Proactive approaches are needed to optimize human
benefits while limiting harm.
On land, hunting by humans imperils 40 to 50% of all threatened
bird and mammal species (80). In the marine realm, industrial fish-
ing is the largest hunting operation on the planet and targets more
than half of the ocean surface, spanning an area four times that cov-
ered by terrestrial agriculture (81). Currently, fishing exploitation
rates remain uncontrolled in vast ocean areas, including the high seas.
Only a small fraction of the fisheries of the world are managed and
science based, and they mostly concern single species targeted by
industrial fleets in developed countries (82). In many cases, reduc-
ing fishing effort could help increase efficiency and profitability
(83). Illegal and unsustainable trade in animals and plants, especially
in threatened species, must also be curtailed. Further, resources will
be needed to enforce protection as protected areas expand under a
GDN. The most commonly invoked intervention to counteract
poaching and overhunting is law enforcement patrolling to deter,
detect, and punish poachers. Halting illegal and unsustainable trade
in animals and plants, in particular of species threatened with ex-
tinction and where trade adds to the pressure on that species, is es-
sential (Table3).
The proliferation of invasive species, pollutants, and toxins is a
major driver of species loss, population declines, and habitat degra-
dation around the world (84). The amount of plastic making its way
into the oceans is predicted to nearly double in the next decade;
allowing this to occur would unleash extremely detrimental impacts
on marine species and ecosystems (85). Beyond plastics, widespread
use of ecologically damaging toxins is causing massive declines in
global pollinators, invertebrate biomass, and degradation of aquatic
ecosystems. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
target to prevent and significantly reduce pollution, the world needs
to move from our current “linear economy” (make, use, dispose) to
a circular economy in which resources do not become waste but
instead are recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life
(86). A GDN should encourage appropriate regulations, market in-
centives, and enterprise in areas such as waste management upstream
to prevent plastic trash entering the ocean (Table3). Funding for
research, technology, and invasive species management programs
in targeted areas can have marked effects in restoring native species
populations and ecosystem services.
The conservation biology literature offers extensive analyses and
detailed case studies of global threats and drivers of biodiversity loss.
We have distilled key papers from this literature to identify clear
milestones and targets that reflect their scope and intensity and how
to reduce their impact as an integral part of the GDN (Table3).
DISCUSSION
The Paris Agreement offers a useful template for a GDN because it
sets global targets, provides a model for financial support, and sup-
ports bottom-up efforts. All nations have signed on to this agree-
ment. But the Paris Agreement is only a half-deal; it will not alone
save the diversity of life on Earth or conserve ecosystem services upon
which humanity depends. It is also reliant on natural climate solu-
tions that require bolstering outside of the Paris Agreement to en-
sure that these natural approaches can contribute to its success. Yet,
land-based sequestration efforts receive only about 2.5% of climate
mitigation dollars (4,87).
At the same time that climate scientists were arriving at a single
numerical target for maintaining Earth’s atmosphere at safe limits,
biodiversity scientists identified multiple targets for the required
habitats to conserve the rest of life on Earth. But to communicate
effectively, as in the Paris Agreement, these many needs could be
encompassed within a single target: protect at least half of Earth by
2050 and ensure that these areas are connected (16,23,40). The evi-
dence arising since these calls were made clearly demonstrate that
while we may be able to afford to wait to formally designate 50% pro-
tected in nature reserves, we need to fast-track the protection and
restoration of all natural habitat by 2030 (2). A GDN that will en-
sure that we have at least 50% intact natural habitats by 2030 is the only
path that will enable a climate-resilient future and is one that will offer
a myriad of other benefits (3,4). Since the crucial role of intact, di-
verse systems has also been demonstrated to be essential for carbon
storage (8,15), the GDN will need to emphasize mechanisms for pro-
tecting intactness both inside and outside of protected areas (e.g. in
CSAs/OECMs) well before 2050.
Tallis and colleagues (3) demonstrated that with existing technol-
ogies and large-scale adoption of common conservation approaches
(e.g., protected areas, renewable energy, sustainable fisheries man-
agement, and regenerative agriculture), it would be possible to ad-
vance a desired future of multiple economic and environmental
objectives (including 50% of each biome intact, with the exception of
temperate grasslands). This spatial coexistence is possible even with
the prospects of feeding and supporting the material needs of a grow-
ing human population (88). The success of proposals to boost food
production while protecting biodiversity will likely depend on our
success in addressing human population growth, however, and our
willingness to marshal financial resources accordingly (89).
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Table 3. Enabling policies, milestones, and targets to reduce major threats and drivers of change.
Enabling policies to reduce threats and drivers
Feature 2018 Benchmark Milestone for 2030 Target outcome for 2050 References
Agricultural
expansion
Cropland covers at least 12% of
the planet’s ice-free surface;
the expected range of
cropland expansion is
123–495 Mha per annum
(i) Expansion of agro-commodity
production and supporting roads and
settlements is moved to degraded or
previously converted areas such that
range of cropland expansion into
natural areas is halved from
2020 levels.
(ii) Priority biodiversity and biospheric
areas are experiencing no net loss of
habitat due to agricultural expansion.
(iii) Targets established and met for
increase in per ha productivity
No loss of natural habitat for
commercial agro-commodity
production and sourcing
is occurring
(9496)
Roads At least 25 million km of new
roads projected by 2050
(a 60% increase in the total
length of roads over that in
2010); 70% of the world’s
forests are less than 1 km from
a forest edge
(i) Transnational transport corridor
projects that will affect priority
biodiversity and biosphere function
target areas are subject to
international oversight of strategic
road planning that minimizes impacts
on biodiversity and biosphere
function targets.
(ii) Top 50 planned road networks or
improvements that would directly
affect priority biodiversity and
biosphere function habitats and
regions are not eligible for
international financing.
(iii) International financing is predicated
on ensuring overpasses and
underpasses in engineering designs
to ensure integration of social and
ecological connectivity
All transnational transport corridor
projects that can affect priority
biodiversity and biosphere function
target areas are subject to
international oversight of strategic
road planning that minimizes
impacts on biodiversity and
biosphere function targets. All
planned road networks or
improvements that would directly
affect priority biodiversity and
biosphere function habitats and
regions are not eligible for
international financing
(78, 79, 97)
Dams, barrages,
channelizations
More than 800,000 dams and
45,000+ large dams exist;
more than half the world’s
rivers blocked by large dams,
thousands of smaller dams
being planned
(i) No further planning or building of
large- to medium-sized dams on the
world’s rivers
(ii) Maintain two-thirds of all headwaters
of the Earth’s major river systems
undammed by 2030 through
protection and removal of blocking
infrastructure
Restoration of 25% of the world’s rivers
to free-flowing state by 2050
through removal of dams and
barrages
(57, 93, 98)
Overfishing The global marine catch peaked
in 1996 and has been
declining since, with more
than 30% of fisheries
collapsed; more than
1000 species threatened with
extinction due to fishing
(i) Subsidies that contribute to
overcapacity and overfishing
are eliminated
(ii) Global fishing capacity cut in half
(iii) Regional Fisheries Management
Organizations reformed and made
accountable to a new independent
global fisheries agency
(i) End of overfishing
(ii) All commercial fisheries
management is science based and
sustainable and is based on
access rights
(iii) Sustainable aquaculture based on
non-fish feed has replaced half of
the marine catch
(24, 81, 99, 100)
Wildlife trade Overexploitation affects
three-fourths of threatened
species; wildlife products are
legally traded internationally
at volumes of an average of
100 million whole organism
equivalents per year over the
past 10 years
(i) Sport and commercial hunting of
threatened terrestrial, marine, and
freshwater animals and parts are
banned nationally and internationally
(ii) Agreements in place to prohibit
international trade/sale/transport for
commercial purposes of all
wild-caught threatened species
(i) Global ban in international transport
for commercial purposes of all
wildlife species and threatened
plant taxa
(ii) Global legislation and enforcement
banning any trade in
threatened species
(iii) Legal trade volumes considered
sustainable for all species
(9, 100, 101)
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Gross costs for nature conservation measures across half the Earth
could be $100 billion per year, but the international community cur-
rently spends $4 billion to $10 billion per year on conservation (90).
Extending the area-based targets in the post-2020 strategic plan for
biodiversity to 30% by 2030 will likely require direct involvement of
the private sector. In key sectors—fishing, forestry, agriculture, and
insurance—corporations may be able to align their financial returns
directly to reaching targets recommended by the GDN. However,
the typical approach to conservation planning does not involve the
real (net) costs because the direct benefits of conservation and the
averted costs of inaction are not included in the calculations. Barbier
and colleagues (90) showed that potential direct benefits from bio-
diversity conservation for various sectors range from increasing an-
nual profits by $53 billion in the seafood industry to $4300 billion in
the insurance industry. In addition, marine reserves can provide
more economic benefits from tourism than fishing in many loca-
tions worldwide (91). Financial investments of even 10 to 20% of
potential benefits from biodiversity conservation from three key
industries could make up as much of one-third of the commitment
needed to implement a GDN. A GDN may appeal to a broader set
of nonstate actors, including corporations and local government
entities. The solutions could be implemented in ways that have direct
positive benefits to local or regional communities and especially
indigenous peoples. Land-based jobs, food security, green space,
access to wilderness, and ecosystem services are benefits that deliver
advantages to rural and urban dwellers alike.
Complex life has existed on Earth for about 550 million years, and
it is now threatened with the sixth mass extinction. If we fail to change
course, it will take millions of years for Earth to recover an equiva-
lent spectrum of biodiversity. Future generations of people will live
in a biologically impoverished world. Adopting a GDN and the mile-
stones and targets presented here would better allow humanity to
Table 3. Enabling policies, milestones, and targets to reduce major threats and drivers of change.
Enabling policies to reduce threats and drivers
Feature 2018 Benchmark Milestone for 2030 Target outcome for 2050 References
Invasive species ~17,000+ invasive species
documented
(i) Solidify gains in the Actions and
Milestones of Aichi Target 9 invasive
alien species prevented and
controlled, namely, “By 2020, invasive
alien species and pathways are
identified and prioritized, priority
species are controlled or eradicated,
and measures are in place to manage
pathways to prevent their
introduction and establishment.”
(ii) Control of top plant or animal
invasive species in 100 global priority
islands
(i) Solidify gains in the Actions and
Milestones of Aichi Target 9 Invasive
alien species prevented and
controlled, namely, “By 2020,
invasive alien species and pathways
are identified and prioritized,
priority species are controlled or
eradicated, and measures are in
place to manage pathways to
prevent their introduction and
establishment.”
(ii) Control of top plant or animal
invasive species in 200 global
priority islands
(84, 100)
Plastics The amount of plastic making its
way into the oceans is
predicted to increase from
9 million metric tons in 2015 to
16 million metric tons in 2025
Global ban on all nonrecyclable,
single-use plastics; recycling of 30% of
the world’s plastics
To achieve the SDG target to “prevent
and significantly reduce marine
pollution” by 2025, the world needs to
move from our current “linear
economy” (make, use, dispose) to a
circular economy in which resources
do not become waste but instead are
recovered and regenerated at the end
of each service life. Government
should embed the circular economy
into national strategies
Global ban on all single-use plastics;
recycling of 50% of the
world’s plastics
(85, 86, 102)
Toxins Current widespread use of
ecologically damaging toxins
occurs, causing massive
declines in global pollinators,
invertebrate biomass,
and degradation of
aquatic ecosystems
The most ecologically damaging classes
of commercial toxins (e.g., certain
pesticides, herbicides, nematocides,
and fungicides, especially those that
kill pollinators, poison freshwaters,
and sterilize soils) no longer
produced, sold, or used globally
Global program to monitor and
enforce no production, sale, and use
of most ecologically damaging
toxins, including testing newly
developed commercial toxins
(103)
Ozone-depleting
chemicals
The Montreal Protocol on
Substances that Deplete the
Ozone Layer currently
regulates ozone-depleting
chemicals
A global ban on production and use of
ozone-depleting chemicals effectively
enforced
(104)
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develop a vibrant, low-impact economy and conserve intact ecosys-
tems, all while leaving space for nature. Linking the GDN and the
Paris Agreement could solve the two major challenges facing the
biosphere and all the species within it and result in a return to safe
operating space for humanity.
SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS
Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/
content/full/5/4/eaaw2869/DC1
Section S1. Maps of important biodiversity and carbon layers
Section S2. Underlying data for increasing representation of ecoregions by adding
unprotected areas of high priority
Section S3. Monitoring progress under the GDN from the ground to below the sea to space
Fig. S1. Maps used to increase representation among terrestrial ecoregions and unprotected
sites of biodiversity importance that contribute to the global milestone of 30% protected by
2030.
Fig. S2. Maps showing total terrestrial carbon and overlap with intact large mammal
assemblages.
Fig. S3. Overlay of tiger conservation landscapes and protected areas.
Table S1. Underlying data for increasing representation of ecoregions by adding unprotected
areas of high priority.
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Acknowledgments: We thank B. Babbitt, M. Gomera, N. Lapham, S. Pimm, and J. Watson for
reviewing drafts of the manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers helped improve the article.
Author contributions: E.D., C.V., E.S., T.E.L., D.O., K.B., R.F.N., J.E.M.B., and Y.P.Z. designed the
framework of this paper; A.R.J., S.F., J.M., and A.B. conducted data analysis and interpretation
of data; E.D., C.V., E.S., D.O., G.P.A., N.D.B., R.F.N., S.F., K.B., T.B., N.H., L.N.J., and E.W. contributed
substantially to the writing and editing of the manuscript. Competing interests: There are no
financial or competing interests involved in authorship of this paper. Data and materials
availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper,
the Supplementary Materials, and/or the materials cited herein. Additional data related to this
paper may be requested from the authors.
Submitted 6 December 2018
Accepted 28 March 2019
Published 19 April 2019
10.1126/sciadv.aaw2869
Citation: E. Dinerstein, C. Vynne, E. Sala, A. R. Joshi, S. Fernando, T. E. Lovejoy, J. Mayorga,
D. Olson, G. P. Asner, J. E. M. Baillie, N. D. Burgess, K. Burkart, R. F. Noss, Y. P. Zhang, A. Baccini,
T. Birch, N. Hahn, L. N. Joppa, E. Wikramanayake, A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles,
milestones, and targets. Sci. Adv. 5, eaaw2869 (2019).
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E. Dinerstein, C. Vynne, E. Sala, A. R. Joshi, S. Fernando, T. E. Lovejoy, J. Mayorga, D. Olson, G. P. Asner, J. E. M. Baillie, N.
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... Without comprehensive, high-resolution geographic datasets on invertebrate groups, our knowledge of global biodiversity patterns is highly biased toward one branch of the tree of life: vertebrates (5). This vertebrate bias could undermine the effectiveness of area-based conservation efforts (6,7) even as these appear to be gaining momentum. ...
... We first retrieved 1,802,913 raw ant occurrence records from the GABI database (downloaded 14 July 2020), of which only 1,062,720 records had coordinate information [1]. To prepare the data for geocoding, we pooled duplicate localities based on locality or archipelago information from multiple fields and latitude/longitude coordinates (when available) rounded to four decimals (~11 m; [2]), ensured proper encoding for numeric fields [3], ensured coordinates did not have obvious errors in location (e.g., outside of ±180°) or formatting [4], corrected character-encoding errors for locality fields (Python package ftfy (51); [5]), measured the fuzzy distance between original and corrected country names (Python package FuzzyWuzzy (52); [5]), and detected additional coordinate information by scanning text in other fields [6]. We then addressed any remaining character-encoding errors for locality fields and confirmed country attributions by checking against global locality-validation databases [GeoNames (<https://geonames.org/>), ...
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Invertebrates constitute the majority of animal species and are critical for ecosystem functioning and services. Nonetheless, global invertebrate biodiversity patterns and their congruences with vertebrates remain largely unknown. We resolve the first high-resolution (~20-km) global diversity map for a major invertebrate clade, ants, using biodiversity informatics, range modeling, and machine learning to synthesize existing knowledge and predict the distribution of undiscovered diversity. We find that ants and different vertebrate groups have distinct features in their patterns of richness and rarity, underscoring the need to consider a diversity of taxa in conservation. However, despite their phylogenetic and physiological divergence, ant distributions are not highly anomalous relative to variation among vertebrate clades. Furthermore, our models predict that rarity centers largely overlap (78%), suggesting that general forces shape endemism patterns across taxa. This raises confidence that conservation of areas important for small-ranged vertebrates will benefit invertebrates while providing a "treasure map" to guide future discovery.
... They considered climate change and biosphere integrity (including functional diversity and genetic diversity) to be core planetary boundaries that if transgressed would lead the Earth system into a new state. Dinerstein et al. (2019), ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (n.d.), and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2009) discussed the interconnection between sequestering carbon, a key to climate stabilization and mitigation, and protecting biodiversity. ...
... Indeed, -Key to IUCN's influence is its ability to bridge science and policy, linking knowledge to action, as well as linking governmental and non-governmental sectors, private and public and mobilising organisations … to support joint actions and solutions.‖ (IUCN, 2016, p. 15) Along with this approach of applying science to influence action, there have been numerous examples of assessments and/or identifications of actions needed that have been identified in the scientific literature: Drivers of species extinction and loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g., population growth, per capita consumption, land modification, exploitation of resources, poaching of large animals, pollution, climate change, clearing of natural habitats for agriculture, deforestation, loss of habitats, land fragmentation)(Baillie and Zhang, 2018;Betts et al., 2017;Dinerstein et al., 2019;Dobson et al., 2020;Jones et al., 2008; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2020;Noss et al., 2012;Pimm et al., 2014;Wilcox and Ellis, 2006);  Steps to protect habitats, species, and biodiversity (e.g., protect 30% and 50% of land and ocean waters by 2030 and 2050 (Global Deal for Nature), respectively, maintain intact ecosystems, provide contiguous areas, slow/stop land clearing for agriculture, retain forest cover, preservation of indigenous communities rights, address climate change)(Dinerstein et al., 2017;Dinerstein et al., 2019;Dobson et al., 2020; non-governmental organizations (https://forestdeclaration.org/about). 16 In addition, Germany and IUCN launched the Bonn Challenge in 2011 as a global goal to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2020 and then 350 million hectares by 2030 (https://www.bonnchallenge.org). ...
... Indeed, -Key to IUCN's influence is its ability to bridge science and policy, linking knowledge to action, as well as linking governmental and non-governmental sectors, private and public and mobilising organisations … to support joint actions and solutions.‖ (IUCN, 2016, p. 15) Along with this approach of applying science to influence action, there have been numerous examples of assessments and/or identifications of actions needed that have been identified in the scientific literature: Drivers of species extinction and loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services (e.g., population growth, per capita consumption, land modification, exploitation of resources, poaching of large animals, pollution, climate change, clearing of natural habitats for agriculture, deforestation, loss of habitats, land fragmentation)(Baillie and Zhang, 2018;Betts et al., 2017;Dinerstein et al., 2019;Dobson et al., 2020;Jones et al., 2008; Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2020;Noss et al., 2012;Pimm et al., 2014;Wilcox and Ellis, 2006);  Steps to protect habitats, species, and biodiversity (e.g., protect 30% and 50% of land and ocean waters by 2030 and 2050 (Global Deal for Nature), respectively, maintain intact ecosystems, provide contiguous areas, slow/stop land clearing for agriculture, retain forest cover, preservation of indigenous communities rights, address climate change)(Dinerstein et al., 2017;Dinerstein et al., 2019;Dobson et al., 2020; non-governmental organizations (https://forestdeclaration.org/about). 16 In addition, Germany and IUCN launched the Bonn Challenge in 2011 as a global goal to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2020 and then 350 million hectares by 2030 (https://www.bonnchallenge.org). ...
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In light of significant environmental impacts from past and projected global population, demographic, and environmental megatrends, this article makes the case why incremental change is insufficient to alter these environmental trends and that there is thereby a growing commitment to transformational change. In addition, there is increasing recognition of the urgent need for scaling up transformational change across entire sectors and systems to achieve systemwide changes that will be needed to reverse these negative environmental trends, help pull the Earth system within proposed planetary boundaries that have been exceeded, and achieve long-term global sustainability goals. This article makes the case for the need for transformational change and scaling up transformational change to achieve system-wide change. Given the magnitude of what it will take to transform systems and the important role of the private sector due to its more direct environmental impacts, it will be important for companies to be leaders in these efforts to scale up transformational change, and their collaboration with key stakeholders will be vital. This article identifies examples of leading efforts by several companies and proposes that it will be important for many companies to combine such or similar efforts to not only protect habitats and species but to also restore critical habitats. There is a call for the private sector and also other stakeholder groups, such as governments, investors, civil society, and consumers, to jointly collaborate and collectively respond to these challenges and lead. https://doi.org/10.5296/emsd.v11i3.19875
... The main objectives are reaching the global targets of a 1.5° Celsius increase in global temperature and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2020;Mace, Norris and Fitter, 2012;Wilhere, 2021). For the CBD, Dinerstein et al. (2019) propose a science-driven approach for saving biodiversity in pairing the 1.5-degree targets of the Paris Climate Agreement with a Global Deal for Nature (GDN) "that targets 30% of Earth to be formally protected and an additional 20% designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030" (Dinerstein et al., 2019). The formal protection of land follows the categorization of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): National Parks of Category II are defined as "Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities." ...
... The main objectives are reaching the global targets of a 1.5° Celsius increase in global temperature and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2020;Mace, Norris and Fitter, 2012;Wilhere, 2021). For the CBD, Dinerstein et al. (2019) propose a science-driven approach for saving biodiversity in pairing the 1.5-degree targets of the Paris Climate Agreement with a Global Deal for Nature (GDN) "that targets 30% of Earth to be formally protected and an additional 20% designated as climate stabilization areas, by 2030" (Dinerstein et al., 2019). The formal protection of land follows the categorization of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): National Parks of Category II are defined as "Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities." ...
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) gives policy recommendations based on scientific research and agreed climate targets. We outline the concepts and requirements for implementing the sustainability goals. The Triple Helix Twin model is tested as method to analyze the governance of environmental policy formation and implementation. The model is applied to the controversial case of creating the large-scale natural area Northern Park Black Forest in Germany in the period of 2011 to 2014. The protected zone was set up employing criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN (Category II National Parks). The findings indicate that the creation of protected areas need the participation of stakeholders to address so-called wicked problems that arise between diverse social needs and science based expert knowledge. Findings contribute to the operationalization of the Triple Helix Twins ( THT ) model for analysing policy impact and transformational governance. We recommend to employ the Triple Helix Twins for future comparative research of the transition from high level concept to local realization.
... Natural disasters not only disturb the habitat of animals living there but also exerts massive pressure on the microbial community (fungi and bacteria) residing over plants by completely vanishing them from the region. A favorable point here is that forest managers having a keen interest in the productivity and sustainability of forests are taking serious measures to overcome the short-term consequences resulted from natural disasters with the help of international corporation and advanced research protocols to conserve the natural habitat and making this planet a healthy place (Dinerstein et al. 2019). ...
Chapter
Global climatic change has resulted in the increased activity of biotic and abiotic stresses on the agricultural crops and forest ecosystem. To cope with stresses has now become crucial for nature’s survival. Biotic stress is referred to as the phytopathogens, while abiotic stress includes temperature, salinity, drought, and heavy metals in soil due to excessive use of sprays and chemical detergents. Apart from affecting the crop yield, it also affects the bioremediation efficiency and ecosystems of forests. In this case, agronomists and agriculturalists are looking toward the use of plant growth-promoting microbes (plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs), plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB), and plant growth-promoting fungi (PGPF)) for better production and health of plants. This way is environmentally friendly, effective, and sustainable as compared to the conventional system, i.e., pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Plant–microbe interaction increases the survival of plants by minimizing the negative effects of biotic and abiotic stresses. The use of “Omics and bio-formulations” is the recent achievements made in this sector by considering future concerns against biotic and abiotic stress-causing factors.
... Given the relatively disenfranchised position of local communities vis-à-vis more powerful actors (Palmer Fry et al., 2015), the needs of local populations are often trapped between competing global demands for land-based resources and services (Niewöhner et al., 2016), with deep implications for local well-being (Brockington & Wilkie, 2015;Ulrich, 2014). On the one hand, the ongoing and expected expansion of protected areas (PAs) (Dinerstein et al., 2019) has the potential to negatively affect millions of forest frontier communities (Schleicher et al., 2019). On the other hand, the chase after maximal economic profit from agricultural commodities produced in tropical forest frontier landscapes (Folke et al., 2019) links local producers to the inherent uncertainties of the global economy (Jha & Yeros, 2019). ...
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1. Tropical forest frontier areas support the well-being of local populations in myriad ways. Not only do they provide the material basis for people's livelihoods , they also sustain socio-cultural foundations through relational values. They host some of the most biodiverse ecosystems and largest carbon stocks on the planet, and are thus a focus of global conservation efforts. They are also a prime location for the production of many global agricultural commodities. These dynamics-often intertwined-may trap local populations between powerful interests, with the potential to affect their well-being. 2. We conducted 100 structured interviews in four biodiversity-rich landscapes of northeastern Madagascar to investigate how multi-dimensional human well-being is affected by the recent establishment of protected areas and surge in cash crop prices. We asked households about their satisfaction-and changes in satisfaction-with locally relevant well-being components, mapping their answers through Nussbaum's Central Capabilities approach. We also investigated the cultural significance of key natural resources beyond the material benefits they provide. All issues were explored along four variables: site, main source of rice, gender and household land use portfolio. 3. Our findings are as follows: first, human capabilities are interconnected and mutually interdependent, with relational values linking many of them. Second, subjective accounts of well-being are influenced by cognitive biases, such as treadmill effects, adaptive preferences and recency bias. Third, while households perceived a positive influence of protected areas, those most reliant on forest land and products held a more negative view of conservation interventions. And
... Most conservation biologists believe that greatly increasing the amount of land and seas protected in PAs is necessary to preserve Earth's remaining biodiversity (Dinerstein et al., 2019;Locke et al., 2019;IUCN, 2020). But the role of population reduction in achieving the goals of Half Earth or similar proposals remains largely unexplored (an important exception is Crist et al., 2021). ...
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Global biodiversity decline is best understood as too many people consuming and producing too much and displacing other species. Wild landscapes and seascapes are replaced with people, our domestics and commensals, our economic support systems, and our trash. Conservation biologists have documented many of the ways that human activity drives global biodiversity loss, but they generally neglect the role of overpopulation. We summarize the evidence for how excessive human numbers destroy and degrade habitats for other species, and how population decrease opens possibilities for ecological restoration. We discuss opportunities for further research into how human demographic changes help or hinder conservation efforts. Finally, we encourage conservation biologists to advocate for smaller populations, through improved access to modern contraception and explicit promotion of small families. In the long term, smaller human populations are necessary to preserve biodiversity in both less developed and more developed parts of the world. Whether the goal is to save threatened species, create more protected areas, restore degraded landscapes, limit climate disruption, or any of the other objectives key to preserving biodiversity, reducing the size of the human population is necessary to achieve it.
... The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development brings the promise of nations cooperating to make ambitious strides towards conserving the marine environment. The time is ripe to provide innovative solutions that will allow for equitable protection of our oceans (Dinerstein et al., 2019). But as we set to expand marine conservation, it is important that we look back, reflect on the success of previous interventions, and leverage existing resources to further marine conservation. ...
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As a member of the "High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy", Mexico has committed to expand community-based marine conservation. We draw from more than two decades of experience to outline how existing resources may be leveraged to help inform the country's ambitious conservation plans. A total of 514.12 km 2 have already been protected under community-based marine reserves. 14 years of ecological survey data, more than 130 community surveyors, more than one hundred publications, and an entire digital infrastructure provide a solid platform on which to continue building the community-based marine conservation movement. Parallel and complimentary efforts have advanced regulation, action, data access and transparency, and coordination. Future interventions should innovate, but leverage existing resources and continue to involve communities.
... To become FSC-certified, companies must demonstrate a commitment to ten criteria associated with legal compliance, worker, community, and indigenous rights, environmental impact reduction, and ongoing monitoring and planning. There is debate over the long-term benefits of certification to biodiversity protection (e.g., Edwards et al., 2010;Carlson et al., 2017;Trolliet and Vogt, 2019), but the demand for certified products has increased in recent years, suggesting that social pressure will continue to influence commodity and natural resource markets (Dinerstein et al., 2019; The Economist Intelligence Unit 2021). ...
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Conversion of natural, heterogenous tropical forests to intensively managed, monoculture-production landscapes is a major threat to biodiversity. This phenomenon is driven by global demand for commodities such as wood, palm oil, sugar, and soybean. The economies of many countries in tropical areas depend on these commodities, and there is a need to ensure economic welfare while protecting biodiversity. Certification schemes such as those developed by the Forest Stewardship Council and Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil are intended to provide incentive to companies to employ environmentally and socially sustainable production practices. One element of these certification schemes is the concept of High Conservation Values (HCVs) which fall into six categories that encompass ecological indicators and human dimensions. The HCV process has expanded beyond production landscapes to include long-term conservation planning. Despite expansion, implementation of the HCV process as it pertains to biodiversity is challenged, in part, by a lack of specificity regarding target metrics. Another challenge is that, in practice, there is a short time period for assessment, resulting in limited collection of primary data and a reliance on secondary data sources for interpolation. HCV guidance advances a precautionary approach to assessment, but in some regions, there is not enough known about the biology, behavior, or interspecific associations of species to effectively assess what is not observed. In this paper, we assess environmental HCVs in a well-studied timber production system in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Using an original long-term multi-method dataset of avifaunal surveys as well as published datasets of other taxa, we 1) assess biodiversity metrics at the site including presence of Rare, Threatened, and Endemic species, 2) assess change over time at assessment locations, and 3) evaluate costs and benefits of the various methods and provide best practice recommendations for HCV assessment and long-term monitoring. Finally, we recommend transparent data-archiving and sharing for improved accuracy and efficiency in the HCV process. Managed landscapes are important areas for ecological research that are beneficial not only to the restoration and conservation of species and ecosystems but also to well-informed certification and long-term sustainability.
... Broad conservation action is necessary to address the global loss of biodiversity, and many institutions have set goals to slow these losses, such as the call to protect at least 30% of land and ocean by 2030 (Dinerstein et al., 2019;Exec. Order No. 14008, 2021). ...
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Assumptions about how conservation practices will affect ecological outcomes are critical for informing and learning from conservation actions. However, when assumptions do not reflect conditions to which they are applied, they can impede achievement of targeted outcomes and hinder capacity to contribute to conservation goals. We assert that identifying and examining technical assumptions, or those that relate to abiotic or biotic systems, in conservation practice retrospectively for broad conservation strategies is crucial for advancing learning in conservation. Unlike existing proactive assumption frameworks, retroactive examination, which is often realistic for broad scale conservation, allows for honest evaluation of the contributions of those strategies toward shared goals. We propose the state, identify, focus, and think (SIFT) framework, a four‐step process, to guide examination of technical assumptions by defining how assumptions interact with biological circumstances to shape outcomes. We demonstrate use of the SIFT framework with a common technical assumption in US federal private lands conservation programs—that all acres are similarly valuable for achieving wildlife conservation benefits. With the SIFT framework, we show that the benefits of these programs are likely to be applicable to mobile, generalist species with small space requirements, while many species of conservation concern are less likely to benefit. Assumptions aid in conservation when correctly applied. We propose a state, identify, focus, think framework to assess applied assumptions.
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Despite substantial progress in understanding global biodiversity loss, major taxonomic and geographic knowledge gaps remain. Decision makers often rely on expert judgement to fill knowledge gaps, but are rarely able to engage with sufficiently large and diverse groups of specialists. To improve understanding of the perspectives of thousands of biodiversity experts worldwide, we conducted a survey and asked experts to focus on the taxa and freshwater, terrestrial, or marine ecosystem with which they are most familiar. We found several points of overwhelming consensus (for instance, multiple drivers of biodiversity loss interact synergistically) and important demographic and geographic differences in specialists’ perspectives and estimates. Experts from groups that are underrepresented in biodiversity science, including women and those from the Global South, recommended different priorities for conservation solutions, with less emphasis on acquiring new protected areas, and provided higher estimates of biodiversity loss and its impacts. This may in part be because they disproportionately study the most highly threatened taxa and habitats. Front Ecol Environ 2022;
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A foundational paradigm in biological and Earth sciences is that our planet is divided into distinct ecoregions and biomes demarking unique assemblages of species. This notion has profoundly influenced scientific research and environmental policy. Given recent advances in technology and data availability, however, we are now poised to ask whether ecoregions meaningfully delimit biological communities. Using over 200 million observations of plants, animals and fungi we show compelling evidence that ecoregions delineate terrestrial biodiversity patterns. We achieve this by testing two competing hypotheses: the sharp-transition hypothesis, positing that ecoregion borders divide differentiated biotic communities; and the gradual-transition hypothesis, proposing instead that species turnover is continuous and largely independent of ecoregion borders. We find strong support for the sharp-transition hypothesis across all taxa, although adherence to ecoregion boundaries varies across taxa. Although plant and vertebrate species are tightly linked to sharp ecoregion boundaries, arthropods and fungi show weaker affiliations to this set of ecoregion borders. Our results highlight the essential value of ecological data for setting conservation priorities and reinforce the importance of protecting habitats across as many ecoregions as possible. Specifically, we conclude that ecoregion-based conservation planning can guide investments that simultaneously protect species-, community- and ecosystem-level biodiversity, key for securing Earth’s life support systems into the future. © 2018, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.
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This open access book presents detailed pathways to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050, globally and across ten geographical regions. Based on state-of-the-art scenario modelling, it provides the vital missing link between renewable energy targets and the measures needed to achieve them. Bringing together the latest research in climate science, renewable energy technology, employment and resource impacts, the book breaks new ground by covering all the elements essential to achieving the ambitious climate mitigation targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. For example, sectoral implementation pathways, with special emphasis on differences between developed and developing countries and regional conditions, provide tools to implement the scenarios globally and domestically. Non-energy greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios define a sustainable pathway for land-use change and the agricultural sector. Furthermore, results of the impact of the scenarios on employment and mineral and resource requirements provide vital insight on economic and resource management implications. The book clearly demonstrates that the goals of the Paris Agreement are achievable and feasible with current technology and are beneficial in economic and employment terms. It is essential reading for anyone with responsibility for implementing renewable energy or climate targets internationally or domestically, including climate policy negotiators, policy-makers at all levels of government, businesses with renewable energy commitments, researchers and the renewable energy industry.
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