Reaching the goal of at 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.
The goal has already been largely achieved in many parts of the world. Boulder County, Colorado, USA, home of the WILD Foundation, is 67% protected. The Canadian Boreal Framework (signed onto by many varied interests) calls for the protection of at least half of Canada’s Boreal Forest in an interconnected manner, and both Quebec and Ontario have made public commitments towards at least half of their vast northern regions. Over half of British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands (Canada) have been protected through the combined action of governments and the Haida people. Countries such as Bhutan and Venezuela have set ambitious conservation targets; 51% of Bhutan is currently protected and 46% of Venezuela is currently protected. The Dominican Republic, a very small nation with a dense and growing population and one of the lowest per capita incomes in the western hemisphere has 67 protected areas covering 32% of the county’s land.