Progress In Canada’s Boreal Forest Shows We Can Protect Half Of Nature

Originally posted on 15 May 2017, by Jeff Wells on the Huffington Post In the midst of a steady stream of grim reports about the environment, a new study offers a welcome ray of hope. Researchers have determined that there are still hundreds of regions around the globe healthy enough to help maintain clean air and water, support rich animal and plant life and slow climate change. If we act fast, we can preserve the natural systems we all depend upon. But we have to think big. The study, released in BioScience (and co-authored by Harvey Locke), looked at what it takes to maintain clean air, safe water, vibrant biodiversity and other values that keep us humans alive and well. It concluded that we need to protect at least half of a regional landscape to have the best chance of ensuring it can still nurture plants, animals and human life. The study examined 846 eco-regions around the world and found that one-quarter have been eaten away by development and pollution and have just an average of four per cent of their natural habitat left. But the good news is more than 300 ecoregions still have enough unaltered landscape to meet the 50 per cent threshold for necessary protection and long-lasting vitality. Read the full article...

What is needed to protect our wild lands, waters, and animals?

Originally published on 2 May 2017, by Jeff Wells on CPAWS How many people know the truth about what is needed to maintain our wild animals, plants, clean air, clean water, and other values that keep us humans alive and healthy? Still not enough, apparently, as the last global protected areas target that most countries of the world signed on to in 2010 (the so-called Aichi target) was to protect 17% of their land area by 2020. Moving from the current level of 10% protection of Canada’s landscape to 17% protection by 2020 would be a solid next step, and one that Canadian governments have now committed to.  But this will not be nearly enough to conserve nature in the long run. Scientists around the world are coming to a mass consensus that this goal must be radically raised. In fact, it is clear that protecting only 17% of our planet and allowing the rest to be developed would result in massive numbers of species going extinct and massive costs to try to clean the air and water we humans need to sustain us. A new paper released last month (Friday, April 18, 2017) in BioScience highlights the science behind the need to protect at least half of each ecoregion to have the highest probability of maintaining its biodiversity, its ability to keep the world’s air and water clean and healthy, and its functionality to slow climate change and buffer its impacts. Read the full article...

If we want a whole Earth, Nature Needs Half: a response to Büscher et al.

Published on 27 April 2017, Cambridge University Press Büscher et al.’s (2016) recent article ‘Half-Earth or Whole Earth? Radical ideas for conservation, and their implications’ raises some important issues for conservation, but it paints a misleading picture of the Nature Needs Half movement. Nature Needs Half expresses three main tenets: (1) habitat loss and degradation are the leading causes of biodiversity loss, (2) current protected areas are not extensive enough to stem further loss of biodiversity, and (3) it is morally wrong for our species to drive other species to extinction (Wilson, 2016). Conservation biologists agree that to maintain viable populations of most of Earth’s remaining species, we will need to protect c. 50% of landscapes and seascapes from intensive human economic use (Noss & Cooperrider, 1994; Locke, 2014). This bold goal is necessary if we hope to bring our societies’ massive displacement of other species to an end. Read the full letter...
An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm

An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm

A new study published in BioScience today examines a bold new approach to halting the world’s extinction crisis through a strategy to protect 50% of the Earth’s land mass. Many vertebrate species have vanished over the past 5 decades or have become critically endangered and the rate of extinction is accelerating. If habitat conversion continues unabated, key ecosystems could collapse, disrupting the biosphere upon which we all—humans and wildlife—depend. Abstract We assess progress toward the protection of 50% of the terrestrial biosphere to address the species-extinction crisis and conserve a global ecological heritage for future generations. Using a map of Earth’s 846 terrestrial ecoregions, we show that 98 ecoregions (12%) exceed Half Protected; 313 ecoregions (37%) fall short of Half Protected but have sufficient unaltered habitat remaining to reach the target; and 207 ecoregions (24%) are in peril, where an average of only 4% of natural habitat remains. We propose a Global Deal for Nature—a companion to the Paris Climate Deal—to promote increased habitat protection and restoration, national- and ecoregion-scale conservation strategies, and the empowerment of indigenous peoples to protect their sovereign lands. The goal of such an accord would be to protect half the terrestrial realm by 2050 to halt the extinction crisis while sustaining human livelihoods.   The full article is available at: https://academic.oup.com/biosci/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/biosci/bix014 An interactive ecoregion map of the world with protection status by region is available at: http://ecoregions2017.appspot.com A blog post calling on leaders and advocates to create a Global Deal for Nature and protect half the terrestrial realm by 2050 is available...

Taking Action Today: Establishing Protected Areas for Canada’s Future

Report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Submitted by Deborah Schulte, Chair, Canada House of Commons, March 2017 Specific mention of Nature Needs Half on page 27: “Considerable testimony supported the concept of Aichi Target 11 setting minimum, interim targets. Regarding terrestrial protected areas, much testimony was given in support of the idea articulated by Harvey Locke that “nature needs half” – that the ultimate goal should be to protect 50% of terrestrial areas and inland waters.” Executive Summary In 2010, Canada committed to a set of 20 targets known as the Aichi Targets established under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Target 11 commits parties to an aspirational goal of protecting at least 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The target also mandates that protection focus on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services and that protected areas be well-managed, ecologically representative, well-connected and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes. Canada’s achievement of target 11 formed the foundation of the Committee’s study. Intact, functional ecosystems – both terrestrial and marine – provide habitat needed to maintain biodiversity and its inherent value as well as ecosystem services essential for human well-being. As Canada’s natural spaces are threatened by human activity, Canada urgently needs to establish an integrated network of protected areas of high ecological value across the land and water. In addition to the benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services, investments in protected areas bring jobs and other long-term economic benefits, often to rural, economically underdeveloped communities. Establishing protected areas in partnership with Indigenous peoples...
Harvey wants half

Harvey wants half

Published in the January/February 2017 issue of Canadian Geographic Harvey Locke, founder of the monumental Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, talks about how Y2Y continues to evolve as it turns 20 and why the Nature Needs Half conservation edict is gaining momentum Harvey Locke thinks big — continentally, actually — but most importantly, he follows through. In 1997, he and an ensemble of conservationists and scientists founded the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative with the unprecedented idea of not just protecting but connecting as much of the intact temperate and boreal mountain ecosystem between southern Wyoming and the northern Yukon as possible. Twenty years on, they’ve more than doubled the park and conservation-land area in this critical 3,500-kilometre-long corridor, facilitating the movements of countless species across its channels and improving how humans and wildlife coexist on the landscape. The idea of “large landscape conservation” has caught on around the world, and Locke is now also promoting his Nature Needs Half movement, which as the name might suggest is the same transformative idea writ on an even grander scale. Read the full Canadian Geographic article here...
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