Impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on biodiversity conservation

Elsevier, Biological Conservation, Volume 246, June 2020, 108571
Richard T. Corlett, Richard B. Primack, Vincent Devictor, Bea Maas, Varun R. Goswami, Amanda E. Bates, Lian Pin Koh, Tracey J. Regan, Rafael Loyola, Robin J. Pakeman, Graeme S. Cumming, Anna Pidgeon, David Johns and Robin Roth

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting all parts of human society. Like everyone else, conservation biologists are concerned first with how the pandemic will affect their families, friends, and people around the world. But we also have a duty to think about how it will impact the world's biodiversity and our ability to protect it, as well as how it might affect the training and careers of conservation researchers and practitioners. As editors of Biological Conservation, we have heard first-hand from colleagues, authors, and reviewers around the world about the problems they are facing, and their concerns for their students, their staff, and their research projects. Some of our colleagues have become infected with the virus. Field and lab work have largely shut down, while teaching and other communications have moved online, with consequences for training, data collection, and networking that are still unclear. Our colleagues and the media report some examples of reduced human pressures on natural ecosystems, cleaner air and water, and wildlife reclaiming contested habitats. Beyond the direct and immediate consequences of this particular virus, some have also started to think about emerging infectious diseases and their links with biodiversity loss, human activities, and issues of sustainability.

As we write this, the pandemic is still accelerating in most countries, although there are hopeful signs of returns to normality in, for example, China. This editorial can therefore only be a snapshot of a quickly evolving situation. We hope, however, that we can offer some encouragement and insights for our colleagues in lockdown. Our world is changing, and the conservation community must be ready to respond.