We collectively fail to conserve global biodiversity and mobilize natural solutions to help curb global warming. A new study by the Nature Map Consortium shows that managing 30% of strategically placed land for conservation could protect 70% of all terrestrial plant and vertebrate species considered, while simultaneously conserving more than 62% of the species in the land. above and below the world. vulnerable carbon in the soil, and 68% of all clean water.
In November, governments will meet in Glasgow under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Natural climate solutions for mitigation and adaptation will be high on the agenda, as illustrated by the recent G7 Pact for Nature and the Leaders’ Commitment to Nature signed by 88 heads of government . In 2022, China will host the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to agree on a new global framework for biodiversity, including proposed targets to conserve at least 30% of the land and oceans of by 2030 and to apply integrated spatial measures taking biodiversity into account. planning to cope with changing land and sea use.
To halt the decline of nature and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, strategies must be designed and implemented to better manage land use for agriculture, infrastructure, biodiversity conservation, ‘mitigation and adaptation to climate change, water supply and other needs. As highlighted by the draft Global Biodiversity Framework and current efforts in Costa Rica, China and other countries, this requires spatial planning to assess where biodiversity conservation would bring the most benefits to others. political goals.
To support such integrated strategies, an article by the Nature Map consortium has just appeared in the journal Ecology and evolution of nature presents an approach for land use planning. The document aimed to identify areas of global importance to be managed for conservation in order to simultaneously protect the greatest number of species from extinction, conserve vulnerable terrestrial carbon stocks and safeguard freshwater resources. This effort is the first of its kind to truly integrate biodiversity, carbon and water conservation into a common approach and a single global map of priorities. Another distinct novelty of the work is the inclusion of a full set of plant distribution data (approximately 41% of all plant species) in the analyzes, and the setting of species targets for the risk of disease. ‘extinction.
“To implement post-2020 biodiversity strategies such as the Global Biodiversity Framework, policymakers and governments need clarity on where resource management and conservation could bring the greatest potential benefits. to biodiversity. At the same time, biodiversity should not be viewed in isolation. Other aspects such as the conservation of carbon stocks within natural ecosystems must be taken into account alongside biodiversity, so that synergies and trade-offs can be assessed when pursuing multiple objectives ”, explains the lead author Martin Jung, researcher in the Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation Research Group of IIASA. .
“The new global priority maps developed as part of the study show that when it comes to identifying new areas to be managed for conservation, such as protected areas or community-managed forests, the quality (location and management efficiency) is more important than quantity (To aim for the quality of conservation and achieve the goal of safeguarding biodiversity, government and non-government agencies should set targets and indicators for what they want to: conserve species, healthy ecosystems and their services to people, and identify areas to conserve accordingly. Our study provides advice on how to do this, ”adds Piero Visconti, co-author of the study, who heads the Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation Research Group at IIASA.
The researchers note that conserving 30% of strategically located land could generate major gains for conservation, climate and water supply. Specifically, it would protect over 62% of vulnerable carbon above and below soil and 68% of all freshwater, while ensuring that over 70% of all species of terrestrial vertebrates and plants do not. are not threatened with extinction. As the work shows, achieving these goals will require a strategic placement of conservation interventions using spatial planning tools such as Nature Map and, most importantly, will require enabling their stewards to effectively manage these areas.
“This kind of approach can help decision makers prioritize locations for conservation efforts, and shows how people and nature could benefit. To be successful in the long term, these areas must be managed in an efficient and equitable manner. This includes respecting the rights of, and empowering indigenous peoples and local communities, ”said co-author Lera Miles, Senior Technical Specialist – Site Planning, United Nations Conservation Program World Conservation Monitoring Center. environment (UNEP-WCMC).
“Integrated spatial planning maps, as called for in the draft global biodiversity framework, are needed to meet climate and biodiversity goals. They are also essential for financing natural climate solutions, improving carbon markets and greening supply chains, ”says Guido Schmidt Traub, an author of the article who also wrote a related commentary in the same issue of Ecology and evolution of nature.
The study demonstrates that the joint optimization of biodiversity, carbon and water maximizes the synergies that can be obtained from conservation compared to the focus on an individual asset alone. Through strategic action in selected locations, significant benefits can be achieved in all three dimensions. Conservation efforts, however, need to be significantly intensified by all actors in society to achieve global biodiversity and climate goals.
Jung points out that the analysis identifies the higher potential value of any given area to be managed for conservation on a global scale. The team does not suggest or imply in any way that all high value areas should be placed under strict protection, recognizing that these management choices are decided by national and local stakeholders.
The team’s analyzes also quantitatively confirm many areas previously described as biodiversity hotspots, which were previously based solely on expert opinion. By including selected data from the global tree of life that has so far been ignored in global priorities – such as reptiles and plants – the team identified new areas to be considered important for biodiversity at the global scale. These are, for example, the southeastern United States and the Balkans. The research was also useful in updating and improving information on all areas of global importance for biodiversity conservation.
“Our methods, data and global priority maps are intended to be used as a decision support tool for major conservation initiatives. Additionally, the study lays the groundwork for a new generation of integrated priorities. and planning exercises that all actors can use to inform conservation choices at regional, national and sub-national levels, ”concludes Jung.
Global Priority Maps can be explored interactively on the United Nations Biodiversity Lab to assist decision makers and generate information and impact for conservation and sustainable development.