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/bioscience/article/67/6/534/3102935/  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...

Nature Needs Half: A Necessary and Hopeful New Agenda for Protected Areas (US version)

By: Harvey Locke, originally published through The George Wright Society © 2014 Americans celebrated a milestone in global conservation this year: the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. For many, wilderness designated under it has become the gold standard of nature protection in the US. While few protected areas in the world can match designated wilderness in a US national park for ensuring nature’s well-being, it is well to remember important cousins in the protected areas family. National and state parks, state wilderness areas, designated roadless areas in national forests, the national monuments in the Bureau of Land Management’s national landscape conservation system, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s national wildlife refuge system, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) marine protected areas, tribal wilderness, and private lands set aside explicitly for nature conservation are all part of the nature protection clan. While more wilderness is devoutly to be wished in this celebratory year, wilderness alone will not be sufficient to save nature in all its glorious expressions. It is therefore timely to consider how much of all kinds of protected areas we need to ensure that nature and natural processes continue into the future. In a world where humans are just one species interacting among many, we would not need protected areas. This was the case for most of human history. Now we need them, for it is well- settled scientifically that humanity’s relationship with the natural world is in trouble. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) stated bluntly: “The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate...

Nature Needs Half: A Necessary and Hopeful New Agenda for Protected Areas

Originally published in the Nature New South Wales Journal Article by: Harvey Locke, Founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, writer and photographer Conservation targets should be based on what is necessary to protect nature in all its expressions. When, in 1988, the Brundtland report called for tripling the world’s protected area estate (which was then at 3 to 4 per cent of the land area) there was a strong belief that sustainable development would ensure the proper care for nature on the rest of the unprotected earth. This has proven wrong. We therefore must materially shift our protected areas target to protect at least half of the world, land and water, in an interconnected way to conform with what conservation biologists have learned about the needs of nature. Instead we have set goals that are politically determined, with arbitrary percentages that rest on an unarticulated hope that such non-scientific goals are a good first step towards some undefined better future outcome. This has been a destructive form of self-censorship. It is time for conservationists to reset the debate based on scientific findings and assert nature’s needs fearlessly.  Boreal forest wilderness. McQuesten River valley, central Yukon Territory, Canada It is well settled scientifically that humanity’s relationship with the natural world is in trouble. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Parry et al, 2007) stated bluntly: “The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution, overexploitation of resources)”. The human species has become so dominant that some argue we have entered a new geological age dominated not by the chemical and physical workings of the earth as they...

Nature Needs Half in the Earth Island Journal

Originally published in the Earth Island Journal by William H. Funk Conservation group promoting an ambitious new proposal for wilderness protection During the last half century conservationists around the world have won some impressive victories to protect wild places. Here in the US, the Wilderness Act preserves some 110 million acres of public land. Private holdings by groups like The Nature Conservancy safeguard tens of millions of additional acres. The idea of protecting ecosystems from industrial development has spread around the world. There’s the Mavuradonha Wilderness in Zimbabwe, the El Carmen ecosystem in northern Mexico, Kissama National Park in Angola, and the Tasmanian Wilderness in Australia, to name just a few stunning parks and preserves; UNESCO’s world heritage list includes 197 sites of special beauty and/or biodiversity. Photo by Trey Ratcliff Nature Needs Half has set out an unbelievable challenge: to formally, legally set aside one half of Earth’s land and water as interconnected natural areas. But conservation biologists now recognize that these sanctuaries are limited in what they can accomplish precisely because they are special — which is to say, rare. Parks and preserves are all too often islands of biological integrity in a sea of human development. To really protect natural systems, healthy biomes need to be the rule, not the exception. To achieve that vision, The WILD Foundation, a multinational NGO based in Boulder, Colorado, is pushing a bold concept called “Nature Needs Half.” In a world in which even the wealthiest governments routinely abdicate their responsibilities toward future generations and the environment, Nature Needs Half has set out an unbelievable challenge: to formally, legally set aside one half of Earth’s land...
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