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Biodiversity is being lost globally, at devastating rates. The 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will finalise a global biodiversity conservation framework for 2020-2050. The negotiations must result in ambitious yet workable targets that protect and restore nature, while equitably and sustainably sharing nature’s contributions to people. This Collection of research and opinion articles from Nature Ecology & Evolution and Nature Sustainability speak to the goal-setting process and the scientific underpinnings of effective biodiversity conservation.
Divergent conceptions of living nature between conservationists and other groups of people can hinder progress to protect biodiversity. This Perspective reflects on the use of the concept of biodiversity, willingness to expand its ambit, and engagement with the various drivers of change.
This Perspective uses a social–ecological systems framework to make recommendations for global targets that capture the interdependencies of biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainable development to inform the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 process and the future of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
A comprehensive analysis of indigenous and local knowledge on plant uses in New Guinea shows important documentation gaps that limit biodiversity assessments. Also, many services are rare, so less likely to be documented.
A restoration prioritization approach applied to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest biodiversity hotspot considers 362 scenarios for synergies and trade-offs between ecological and economic costs, benefits and scales.
A curated global dataset of Payments for Environmental Services (PES) reveals that theoretical principles are only partially applied in practice, particularly conditionality, which makes payments underperform.
Using the Biodiversity Finance Initiative methodology, the authors assess the extent and effectiveness of biodiversity investment across different economies. Larger economies invest more in absolute terms and proportional to GDP but invest less once GDP is controlled for, and all biodiversity variables correlated positively with investment.
A discourse analysis across time shows how reformist and transformative proponents have been competing over the purpose of biodiversity offsetting, which requires stronger institutional commitments to advance.
In response to continuing habitat and biodiversity loss, leading conservationists have proposed setting aside half the earth for nature. This study evaluates the trade-offs with food production and finds losses in croplands, pasture and calories that vary with the conservation strategy.
Agricultural expansion removes habitat vital for biodiversity. This modelling study finds that 4.6–11.2% of global ice-free land can be devoted to crops and 7.9–15.7% to pasture to support commonly suggested levels of local biodiversity—less than suggested in previous studies.
A global analysis of deforestation rates in more than 18,000 terrestrial protected areas shows that, once protected area effectiveness is taken into account, only 6.5%—rather than 15.7%—of the world’s forests are protected, well below the Aichi Target of 17%.
Agricultural expansion to grow food, fibre and biofuel will further threaten biodiversity. This study finds that almost 90% of terrestrial vertebrate species will lose habitat to such expansion, but proactive food policies could reduce these threats.
Combining biophysical and economic models, the authors show that the impacts of land use on bird biodiversity and carbon sequestration have increased over the years 2000–2011, with cattle farming being a major driver of biodiversity loss.
While regional and planetary biodiversity is suffering from numerous crises, conservation movements have struggled with how to respond. At this inflection point for conservation, over 9,000 conservationists are surveyed to analyse their views and how these are predicted by their characteristics.
Recently, ecologists have begun discussing an idea for setting aside half of the Earth for conservation purposes. This study provides some of the first analysis of the impacts of doing so on society, based on assumptions about ecoregions and human footprint.
Modelling nonlinear habitat dynamics shows that delayed compensation of human impacts (‘no net loss’) will lead to biodiversity declines by the middle of the century. Instead, the authors recommend fixed targets (such as ‘zero loss’) as part of the post-2020 biodiversity framework.
Awaiting the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be held in China late in 2021, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary to the CBD, talks to Nature Sustainability about the challenges of stepping up efforts to address biodiversity decline.
The development of the post-2020 strategic plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity provides a vital window of opportunity to set out an ambitious plan of action to restore global biodiversity. The components of such a plan, including its goal, targets and some metrics, already exist and provide a roadmap to 2050.
Conserving biodiversity for its own sake and conserving it to safeguard ecosystem services are distinct goals that cannot both be achieved through a single target analogous to climate’s 1.5 °C, argues Andy Purvis.
Biodiversity research is replete with scientific studies depicting future trajectories of decline that have failed to mobilize transformative change. Imagination and creativity can foster new ways to address longstanding problems to create better futures for people and the planet.
Much research and policy effort is being expended on ways to conserve living nature while enabling the economic and social development needed to increase equity and end poverty. We propose this will only be possible if policy shifts away from conservation targets that focus on avoiding losses towards processes that consider net outcomes for biodiversity.
Nationwide citizen science data show the importance of farmland outside protected areas for China’s avifauna. We urge the government of China to develop a national strategy for policy and research to protect biodiversity and traditional knowledge of sustainable agriculture to meet the post-2020 goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Regulations designed to prevent global inequalities in the use of genetic resources apply to both commercial and non-commercial research. Conflating the two may have unintended consequences for collaboration between the Global North and biodiverse countries in the Global South, which may promote global injustice rather than mitigate it.