To achieve big wins for terrestrial conservation, prioritise protection of ecoregions closest to meeting targets

Elsevier, One Earth, Volume 2, Issue 5, 22 May 2020, Pages 479-486
Authors: 
Alienor L.M. Chauvenet, James E.M. Watson, Vanessa M. Adams, Moreno Di Marco, Oscar Venter, Katrina J. Davis, Bonnie Mappin, Carissa J. Klein, Caitlin D. Kuempel, and Hugh P. Possingham

Most of the terrestrial world is experiencing high rates of land conversion despite growth of the global protected area network. There is a need to assess whether the current global protection targets are achievable across all major ecosystem types, and to identify those that need urgent protection. Using recent rates of habitat conversion and protection and the latest terrestrial ecoregion map, we show that if the same approach to protected area establishment that has been undertaken over the past three decades continues, 558 of 748 ecoregions (c.75%) will not meet an aspirational 30% area protection target by 2030. A simple yet strategic acquisition plan, which considers realistic futures around habitat loss and protected area expansion, could more than double the number of ecoregions adequately protected by 2030, given current funding constraints. These results highlight the importance of including explicit ecoregional representation targets within any new post-2020 global protected area target.