National Parks and other protected areas not only provide a safe haven for biodiversity, they provide benefits to local communities and preserve some of the most beautiful places on our planet. ‘Coverage of protected areas’ is also a specific indicator in the 2010 Target of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Obtaining the data necessary to monitor trends in protected areas requires a massive effort by national authorities to compile, analyse and then distribute this data to the centralised depository of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). With a living and growing system of protected areas that now exceed 100,000 sites covering 19 million square kilometres, you can imagine that this is no small task!
Since about 1600, 486 animal species have been recorded extinct. This represents about 0.04 of all animal species so far described. In the same period, 600 plant species are known to have disappeared, about 0.25 of the total. These figures are much smaller than those of the Permian/Triassic and Cretaceous/Tertiary mass extinctions. One might therefore conclude that at present life on earth is at comparatively little risk of extinction. However, there is a growing body of data to show that the converse is true.Resource Type: Journal Papers
The continued growth of human populations and of per capita consumption have resulted in unsustainable exploitation of Earth’s biological diversity, exacerbated by climate change, ocean acidification, and other anthropogenic environmental impacts. We argue that effective conservation of biodiversity is essential for human survival and the maintenance of ecosystem processes. Despite some conservation successes (especially at local scales) and increasing public and government interest in living sustainably, biodiversity continues to decline. Moving beyond 2010, successful conservation approaches need to be reinforced and adequately financed. In addition, however, more radical changes are required that recognize biodiversity as a global public good, that integrate biodiversity conservation into policies and decision frameworks for resource production and consumption, and that focus on wider institutional and societal changes to enable more effective implementation of policy.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Projections indicate that species and ecosystems will be at maximum risk from human activities during the next few decades. Prompt action by the world community can minimise the eventual loss of species. Highest priorities should be to: (i) strengthen the management of ecosystems containing a large proportion of global biodiversity; (ii) help developing countries complete their biodiversity strategies and action plans, monitor their own biodiversity, and establish and maintain adequate national systems of conservation areas; (iii) support actions at the global level, providing benefit to all countries in managing their own biodiversity. Generally, resources will best be spent in safeguarding ecosystems and habitats that are viable and important for global biodiversity, and which are threatened by factors that can be controlled cost-effectively. Other important criteria are representativeness, complementarity and insurance.Resource Type: Journal Papers
The establishment of the UN-REDD Programme in Tanzania illustrates real-world challenges in a developing country. These challenges are being addressed by combined donor support to implement a national forest inventory, remote sensing of forest cover, enhanced capacity for measuring, reporting and verification, and pilot projects to test REDD+ implementation linked to the existing Participatory Forest Management Programme.
Our conclusion is that even in a country with considerable donor support, progressive forest policies, laws and regulations, an extensive network of managed forests and increasingly developed locally-based forest management approaches, implementing REDD+ presents many challenges. These are being met by coordinated, genuine partnerships between government, non-government and community-based agencies.Resource Type: Journal Papers
Recent analyses confirm that urgent attempts to catalogue the distribution of biological diversity may be facilitated by focusing at the level of genera or families rather than species. However, questions remain over the application of higher-taxon surveys to identify networks of priority areas for conservation action. Is the close spatial match between species and higher-taxon richness at global and regional scales reiterated when sites are locally distributed? How much money is saved by the higher-taxon approach? And how does using genus or family information affect the efficiency with which spatial priorities for conservation are identified? We examined these issues using data on the diversity of woody plants in Sri Lankan forests.Resource Type: Journal Papers
In the first of two papers, we explored congruence between species and higher-taxon richness across protected areas in Indo-Malaya and the Pacific rim. Our results support the use of the higher-taxon approach in guiding tropical conservation, but with certain reservations. In all three groups examined, higher-taxon richness was quite closely related to species number. However, the precision with which absolute species richness of reserves could be predicted from higher-taxon richness was often surprisingly low, particularly for rich sites where surveying higher taxa rather than species would save most time. The performance of higher taxa as surrogates also dropped sharply with increasing taxonomic rank, resulting in a trade-off between time saved by high-level surveys and the value of those surveys. Lastly, we found that species richness within individual higher taxa was potentially as powerful an indicator of the overall species diversity of a site as the number of higher taxa it contained.Resource Type: Journal Papers
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