Di Marco, M., Butchart, S. H. M., Visconti, P., Buchanan, G. M., Ficetola, G. F. and Rondinini, C. (2015), Synergies and trade-offs in achieving global biodiversity targets. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12559
After their failure to achieve a significant reduction in the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, world governments adopted 20 new ambitious Aichi biodiversity targets to be met by 2020. Efforts to achieve one particular target can contribute to achieving others, but different targets may sometimes require conflicting solutions. Consequently, lack of strategic thinking might result, once again, in a failure to achieve global commitments to biodiversity conservation. We illustrate this dilemma by focusing on Aichi Target 11. This target requires an expansion of terrestrial protected area coverage, which could also contribute to reducing the loss of natural habitats (Target 5), reducing human-induced species decline and extinction (Target 12), and maintaining global carbon stocks (Target 15). We considered the potential impact of expanding protected areas to mitigate global deforestation and the consequences for the distribution of suitable habitat for >10,000 species of forest vertebrates (amphibians, birds, and mammals). We first identified places where deforestation might have the highest impact on remaining forests and then identified places where deforestation might have the highest impact on forest vertebrates (considering aggregate suitable habitat for species). Expanding protected areas toward locations with the highest deforestation rates (Target 5) or the highest potential loss of aggregate species’ suitable habitat (Target 12) resulted in partially different protected area network configurations (overlapping with each other by about 73%). Moreover, the latter approach contributed to safeguarding about 30% more global carbon stocks than the former. Further investigation of synergies and trade-offs between targets would shed light on these and other complex interactions, such as the interaction between reducing overexploitation of natural resources (Targets 6, 7), controlling invasive alien species (Target 9), and preventing extinctions of native species (Target 12). Synergies between targets must be identified and secured soon and trade-offs must be minimized before the options for co-benefits are reduced by human pressures.