Nature Needs Half, but Where?

Scientists Propose a Comprehensive Answer



A watershed study details where and how to achieve half in time to address the climate emergency, halt mass extinction, and secure a better future for humanity

In the coming years we confront a challenge of historic proportions: protecting enough nature (half of Earth’s land and seas) to ensure humanity’s future and avert the worst effects of the climate emergency. Until recently, knowing where and what to protect has been a major hurdle to achieving this goal.

In early September 2020 a group of conservation scientists in coordination with RESOLVE, One Earth, the University of Minnesota, Globaia, EarthX, Arizona State University, and WWF-Hong Kong published a comprehensive answer to that question, including an interactive map. They call it the Global Safety Net because the interconnected areas and corridors identified in the study and corresponding map form a planetary net-like structure that will help preserve nature, sequester carbon, and ensure humanity’s future.

The study concludes that 50 regions and 20 countries are particularly important, including Russia, Canada, Brazil, Australia, China, and the United States. These countries contain almost 75% of the world’s wilderness and 36% of the carbon sequestered in natural habitats – enough carbon, if released into the atmosphere as a consequence of deforestation, to exceed 1.5 Degree temperature rise.

Indigenous lands are critical to the Global Safety Net (37%), underscoring the vital important leadership Indigenous Peoples provide in the fight to save Earth’s remaining wild places and ensure the future of civilization.

Additionally, the study highlights the need for the following:

  •     Interconnected corridors that keep carbon in the ground and also allow for genetic and ecological flow between protected areas
  •     Increasing the percentage of global protected areas by 15-35% in the next 10 years, for a total of 30-50% of Earth’s surface
  •     The interdependence of biodiversity and carbon: 92% of carbon drawdown and storage occurs for free in natural areas if we protect half of Earth

Released on the cusp of the United Nations’ Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, the Global Safety Net also provides a critical roadmap for the restoration of wildlands.

“The Global Safety Net is exactly what we need right now. It demonstrates how we can accomplish the protection of nature at an unprecedented scale,” says Amy Lewis, Vice President of Policy & Communications at the WILD Foundation. “Even better, it illuminates the vital role nature plays in effectively tackling the climate emergency. This is why we need transformative actions across all sectors of society and why we are calling for a Survival Revolution.”