The escalating global ecological crisis – characterized by loss of natural habitat and ecosystem services, increasing species extinctions, and rapid warming of the planet – has demonstrated that conservation efforts to date have not been sufficient to sustain life on earth. While this has been happening, our ecological knowledge has also increased dramatically, especially concerning how much land and water we must protect to support life on Earth. Many assessments over the last 20 years have typically determined that nature needs at least half of a given eco-region to be protected, and needs to be interconnected with other such areas, in order to maintain its full range of life-supporting, ecological and evolutionary processes, the long term survival of the species that live there, and to ensure the system’s resilience in the face of environmental change. Some ecosystems will require more than half.
The magnitude of the global ecological crisis we face today – and the availability of better and more accurate ecological information — demands that conservationists provide a clear and accurate global conservation target that will realistically keep our planet viable.
2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity and 2011 is the Year of Forests. Nature Needs Half has been setting the stage and working as part of the global conservation community to set new global conservation targets since November 2009. Many partners joined the movement and many individuals joined the herd in 2010 – will you be the next one? It is time to take action to support all life on our planet.
Reaching the goal of least half is ambitious but achievable. The short term milestone for the progress of this vision is to move urgently to protect at least half of the planet’s remaining large, mostly intact wilderness areas (for example Boreal Forests, the Amazon Basin, and formally protecting Antarctica), while achieving incremental gains by quickly protecting surviving remnants in fragmented areas of very high biological importance – for example in the Biodiversity Hotspots, Key Biodiversity Areas and Alliance for Zero Extinction sites. This rapid action is essential to respond to the global warming and extinction crises. The goal of achieving the target in every region will be more aspirational, requiring long term strategies with restoration efforts, and with many national/regional milestones along the way.