Global conservation of species’ niches

a, Spatial prioritization for expanding the global system of protected areas to represent the breadth of environmental conditions found across the geographic ranges of species (n = 19,937). b, Areas that would increase the representation of species’ niches that are missing when species’ niches are not considered during reserve selection. To aid visual interpretation, data show the proportion of 25-km2 planning units selected in 2,500-km2 grid cells.

Environmental change is rapidly accelerating, and many species will need to adapt to survive. Ensuring that protected areas cover populations across a broad range of
environmental conditions could safeguard the processes that lead to such adaptations. However, international conservation policies have largely neglected these considerations when setting targets for the expansion of protected areas4. Here we
show that—of 19,937 vertebrate species globally—the representation of environmental
conditions across their habitats in protected areas (hereafter, niche representation) is inadequate for 4,836 (93.1%) amphibian, 8,653 (89.5%) bird and 4,608 (90.9%) terrestrial mammal species. Expanding existing protected areas to cover these gaps would encompass 33.8% of the total land surface—exceeding the current target of 17% that has been adopted by governments. Priority locations for expanding the system of protected areas to improve niche representation occur in global biodiversity hotspots, including Colombia, Papua New Guinea, South Africa and southwest China, as well as across most of the major land masses of the Earth. Conversely, we also show that planning for the expansion of protected areas without explicitly considering environmental conditions would marginally reduce the land area required to 30.7%, but that this would lead to inadequate niche representation for 7,798 (39.1%) species. As the governments of the world prepare to renegotiate global conservation targets, policymakers have the opportunity to help to maintain the adaptive potential of species by considering niche representation within protected areas.

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IPBES report has generated a lot of headlines but, what else is on it?

Report of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on the work of its seventh session

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released its first global assessment of biodiversity, its contributions to humanity and scenarios for its conservation. This report has left us with big headlines in the media and has put biodiversity in the center of the public agenda. However, far from the big headlines of the moment, the science community have been rising the alarms since long time ago. The report covers the decline in biodiversity and ecosystem services, the drivers of this change, the failure to meet many conservation goals and the transformative change needed to rise to the challenge. IPBES report has generated a lot of headlines but, what else is on it?

The most shocking headline that IPBES report has left is that 1 million species are at risk of extinction. This number comes from the knowledge of experts that have calculated that 25% of the species evaluated in the IUCN Red List are at risk of extinction. However is also important to continue the sentence, the report also said that this risk is imminent, many of these species face extinction in the next 10 years, if we don’t do something about it. Moreover, without action, the rates of biodiversity loss will incense 10 to 100 times the background levels.

Another conclusion that is clear from this report is that the causes of the decline on biodiversity are human activities. Changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasion of alien species, are the main drivers that are threatening biodiversity. At the same time, these threads are also threatening humans well being. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystem are vital contributions for human existent. This contribution takes a lot of forms form ecosystem goods and services to naturals gifts.

The most encouraging part of the report is that we still have time to reverse these dramatic trends, but we have to start working right now, it is an urgent matter. We have to put biodiversity at the top of the global agenda. This will require changes in western economic and social systems and changes in our patterns of production and consumption. It will require the sustainable production of food and other resources, alongside a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Society needs to shift from an economic growth perspective to a nature-based one. The report also confirms that nature managed by indigenous people and local communities are in better health than other managements systems. Therefore, to conserve natural ecosytems, governments need to learn from these communities, implementing their knowledge of nature into future policies.

This report is based on 15,000 scientific articles and government reports, integrating information from natural and social sciences, indigenous peoples and traditional agricultural communities. From the Global Mammal Assessment, we contribute to scientific biodiversity knowledge. As members of the IUCN Red List Partnership we are dedicated to the assessment of mammal extinction risk. Moreover we work in the development of species distribution models, the forecast of scenarios of future native and introduced species, risk of extinction due to climate change, and SDGs. Carlo Rondinini, coordinator of the Global Mammal Assessment, was one of the experts invited to write the IPBES report.

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