Protecting Half Is Still Possible

by Eric Dinerstein et al.

Leura, Australia. Photo by Josh Withers.


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.


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.

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Interested in learning more, explore the interactive ecoregion map of the world >>

Read more: Leaders and advocates to create a Global Deal for Nature to protect half by 2050