Nature Needs Half: A Necessary and Hopeful New Agenda for Protected Areas
Written by: Harvey Locke
Published in: IUCN PARKS Journal, Volume 19.2, 2013
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.