Publications by authors named "James E M Watson"

109 Publications

Wilderness.

Curr Biol 2021 Oct;31(19):R1169-R1172

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, BC, Canada.

James Watson and Oscar Venter introduce the concept of wilderness and its role in conservation efforts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.07.041DOI Listing
October 2021

A national-scale dataset for threats impacting Australia's imperiled flora and fauna.

Ecol Evol 2021 Sep 4;11(17):11749-11761. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science The University of Queensland St Lucia QLD Australia.

Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis, having already lost 10% of terrestrial mammal fauna since European settlement and with hundreds of other species at high risk of extinction. The decline of the nation's biota is a result of an array of threatening processes; however, a comprehensive taxon-specific understanding of threats and their relative impacts remains undocumented nationally. Using expert consultation, we compile the first complete, validated, and consistent taxon-specific threat and impact dataset for all nationally listed threatened taxa in Australia. We confined our analysis to 1,795 terrestrial and aquatic taxa listed as threatened (Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered) under Australian Commonwealth law. We engaged taxonomic experts to generate taxon-specific threat and threat impact information to consistently apply the IUCN Threat Classification Scheme and Threat Impact Scoring System, as well as eight broad-level threats and 51 subcategory threats, for all 1,795 threatened terrestrial and aquatic threatened taxa. This compilation produced 4,877 unique taxon-threat-impact combinations with the most frequently listed threats being ( = 1,210 taxa), and ( = 966 taxa). Yet when only high-impact threats or medium-impact threats are considered, become the most prevalent threats. This dataset provides critical information for conservation action planning, national legislation and policy, and prioritizing investments in threatened species management and recovery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7920DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8427562PMC
September 2021

Multinational coordination required for conservation of over 90% of marine species.

Glob Chang Biol 2021 Sep 6. Epub 2021 Sep 6.

School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Marine species are declining at an unprecedented rate, catalyzing many nations to adopt conservation and management targets within their jurisdictions. However, marine species and the biophysical processes that sustain them are naive to international borders. An understanding of the prevalence of cross-border species distributions is important for informing high-level conservation strategies, such as bilateral or regional agreements. Here, we examined 28,252 distribution maps to determine the number and locations of transboundary marine plants and animals. More than 90% of species have ranges spanning at least two jurisdictions, with 58% covering more than 10 jurisdictions. All jurisdictions have at least one transboundary species, with the highest concentrations of transboundary species in the USA, Australia, Indonesia, and the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. Distributions of mapped biodiversity indicate that overcoming the challenges of multinational governance is critical for a much wider suite of species than migratory megavertebrates and commercially exploited fish stocks-the groups that have received the vast majority of multinational management attention. To effectively protect marine biodiversity, international governance mechanisms (particularly those related to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, and Regional Seas Organizations) must be expanded to promote multinational conservation planning, and complimented by a holistic governance framework for biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15844DOI Listing
September 2021

Regional scalable priorities for national biodiversity and carbon conservation planning in Asia.

Sci Adv 2021 Aug 26;7(35). Epub 2021 Aug 26.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.

To achieve the goals of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, we must identify representative targets that effectively protect biodiversity and can be implemented at a national level. We developed a framework to identify synergies between biodiversity and carbon across the Asian region and proposed a stepwise approach based on scalable priorities at regional, biome, and national levels that can complement potential Convention on Biological Diversity targets of protecting 30% land in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Our targets show that 30% of Asian land could effectively protect over 70% of all assessed species relative to only 11% now (based on analysis of 8932 terrestrial vertebrates), in addition to 2.3 to 3.6 hundred billion metric tons of carbon. Funding mechanisms are needed to ensure such targets to support biodiversity-carbon mutually beneficial solutions at the national level while reflecting broader priorities, especially in hyperdiverse countries where priorities exceed 30% of land.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe4261DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388611PMC
August 2021

Scientific foundations for an ecosystem goal, milestones and indicators for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Nat Ecol Evol 2021 Oct 16;5(10):1338-1349. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Despite substantial conservation efforts, the loss of ecosystems continues globally, along with related declines in species and nature's contributions to people. An effective ecosystem goal, supported by clear milestones, targets and indicators, is urgently needed for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and beyond to support biodiversity conservation, the UN Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to abate climate change. Here, we describe the scientific foundations for an ecosystem goal and milestones, founded on a theory of change, and review available indicators to measure progress. An ecosystem goal should include three core components: area, integrity and risk of collapse. Targets-the actions that are necessary for the goals to be met-should address the pathways to ecosystem loss and recovery, including safeguarding remnants of threatened ecosystems, restoring their area and integrity to reduce risk of collapse and retaining intact areas. Multiple indicators are needed to capture the different dimensions of ecosystem area, integrity and risk of collapse across all ecosystem types, and should be selected for their fitness for purpose and relevance to goal components. Science-based goals, supported by well-formulated action targets and fit-for-purpose indicators, will provide the best foundation for reversing biodiversity loss and sustaining human well-being.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-021-01538-5DOI Listing
October 2021

Mismatch between bird species sensitivity and the protection of intact habitats across the Americas.

Ecol Lett 2021 Nov 16;24(11):2394-2405. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France.

Protected areas are highly heterogeneous in their effectiveness at buffering human pressure, which may hamper their ability to conserve species highly sensitive to human activities. Here, we use 60 million bird observations from eBird to estimate the sensitivity to human pressure of each bird species breeding in the Americas. Concerningly, we find that ecoregions hosting large proportions of high-sensitivity species, concentrated in tropical biomes, do not have more intact protected habitat. Moreover, 266 high-sensitivity species have little or no intact protected habitat within their distributions. Finally, we show that protected area intactness is decreasing faster where high-sensitivity species concentrate. Our results highlight a major mismatch between species conservation needs and the coverage of intact protected habitats, which likely hampers the long-term effectiveness of protected areas at retaining species. We highlight ecoregions where protection and management of intact habitats, complemented by restoration, is urgently needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ele.13859DOI Listing
November 2021

Assisted colonization risk assessment-Response.

Science 2021 05;372(6545):925-926

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abj3134DOI Listing
May 2021

Global policy for assisted colonization of species.

Science 2021 Apr;372(6541):456-458

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abg0532DOI Listing
April 2021

People have shaped most of terrestrial nature for at least 12,000 years.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Apr;118(17)

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia 4072.

Archaeological and paleoecological evidence shows that by 10,000 BCE, all human societies employed varying degrees of ecologically transformative land use practices, including burning, hunting, species propagation, domestication, cultivation, and others that have left long-term legacies across the terrestrial biosphere. Yet, a lingering paradigm among natural scientists, conservationists, and policymakers is that human transformation of terrestrial nature is mostly recent and inherently destructive. Here, we use the most up-to-date, spatially explicit global reconstruction of historical human populations and land use to show that this paradigm is likely wrong. Even 12,000 y ago, nearly three quarters of Earth's land was inhabited and therefore shaped by human societies, including more than 95% of temperate and 90% of tropical woodlands. Lands now characterized as "natural," "intact," and "wild" generally exhibit long histories of use, as do protected areas and Indigenous lands, and current global patterns of vertebrate species richness and key biodiversity areas are more strongly associated with past patterns of land use than with present ones in regional landscapes now characterized as natural. The current biodiversity crisis can seldom be explained by the loss of uninhabited wildlands, resulting instead from the appropriation, colonization, and intensifying use of the biodiverse cultural landscapes long shaped and sustained by prior societies. Recognizing this deep cultural connection with biodiversity will therefore be essential to resolve the crisis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2023483118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092386PMC
April 2021

Eroded protections threaten U.S. forests.

Science 2020 11;370(6519):921-922

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4067, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.abf5654DOI Listing
November 2020

A 2021 Horizon Scan of Emerging Global Biological Conservation Issues.

Trends Ecol Evol 2021 01;36(1):87-97

Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, The David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street, Cambridge CB2 3QZ, UK.

We present the results from our 12th annual horizon scan of issues likely to impact biological conservation in the future. From a list of 97 topics, our global panel of 25 scientists and practitioners identified the top 15 issues that we believe society may urgently need to address. These issues are either novel in the biological conservation sector or represent a substantial positive or negative step-change in impact at global or regional level. Six issues, such as coral reef deoxygenation and changes in polar coastal productivity, affect marine or coastal ecosystems and seven relate to human and ecosystem-level responses to climate change. Identification of potential forthcoming issues for biological conservation may enable increased preparedness by researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2020.10.014DOI Listing
January 2021

Author Correction: Area-based conservation in the twenty-first century.

Nature 2020 Dec;588(7837):E14

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2952-yDOI Listing
December 2020

Unveiling the environmental benefits of reducing sugar.

Lancet Planet Health 2020 11;4(11):e497-e498

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(20)30226-6DOI Listing
November 2020

Importance of species translocations under rapid climate change.

Conserv Biol 2021 06 13;35(3):775-783. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Species that cannot adapt or keep pace with a changing climate are likely to need human intervention to shift to more suitable climates. While hundreds of articles mention using translocation as a climate-change adaptation tool, in practice, assisted migration as a conservation action remains rare, especially for animals. This is likely due to concern over introducing species to places where they may become invasive. However, there are other barriers to consider, such as time-frame mismatch, sociopolitical, knowledge and uncertainty barriers to conservationists adopting assisted migration as a go-to strategy. We recommend the following to advance assisted migration as a conservation tool: attempt assisted migrations at small scales, translocate species with little invasion risk, adopt robust monitoring protocols that trigger an active response, and promote political and public support.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13643DOI Listing
June 2021

Area-based conservation in the twenty-first century.

Nature 2020 10 7;586(7828):217-227. Epub 2020 Oct 7.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.

Humanity will soon define a new era for nature-one that seeks to transform decades of underwhelming responses to the global biodiversity crisis. Area-based conservation efforts, which include both protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, are likely to extend and diversify. However, persistent shortfalls in ecological representation and management effectiveness diminish the potential role of area-based conservation in stemming biodiversity loss. Here we show how the expansion of protected areas by national governments since 2010 has had limited success in increasing the coverage across different elements of biodiversity (ecoregions, 12,056 threatened species, 'Key Biodiversity Areas' and wilderness areas) and ecosystem services (productive fisheries, and carbon services on land and sea). To be more successful after 2020, area-based conservation must contribute more effectively to meeting global biodiversity goals-ranging from preventing extinctions to retaining the most-intact ecosystems-and must better collaborate with the many Indigenous peoples, community groups and private initiatives that are central to the successful conservation of biodiversity. The long-term success of area-based conservation requires parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to secure adequate financing, plan for climate change and make biodiversity conservation a far stronger part of land, water and sea management policies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2773-zDOI Listing
October 2020

Just ten percent of the global terrestrial protected area network is structurally connected via intact land.

Nat Commun 2020 09 11;11(1):4563. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Land free of direct anthropogenic disturbance is considered essential for achieving biodiversity conservation outcomes but is rapidly eroding. In response, many nations are increasing their protected area (PA) estates, but little consideration is given to the context of the surrounding landscape. This is despite the fact that structural connectivity between PAs is critical in a changing climate and mandated by international conservation targets. Using a high-resolution assessment of human pressure, we show that while ~40% of the terrestrial planet is intact, only 9.7% of Earth's terrestrial protected network can be considered structurally connected. On average, 11% of each country or territory's PA estate can be considered connected. As the global community commits to bolder action on abating biodiversity loss, placement of future PAs will be critical, as will an increased focus on landscape-scale habitat retention and restoration efforts to ensure those important areas set aside for conservation outcomes will remain (or become) connected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18457-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7486388PMC
September 2020

Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy.

Nature 2020 09 10;585(7826):551-556. Epub 2020 Sep 10.

PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Increased efforts are required to prevent further losses to terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it  provides. Ambitious targets have been proposed, such as reversing the declining trends in biodiversity; however, just feeding the growing human population will make this a challenge. Here we use an ensemble of land-use and biodiversity models to assess whether-and how-humanity can reverse the declines in terrestrial biodiversity caused by habitat conversion, which is a major threat to biodiversity. We show that immediate efforts, consistent with the broader sustainability agenda but of unprecedented ambition and coordination, could enable the provision of food for the growing human population while reversing the global terrestrial biodiversity trends caused by habitat conversion. If we decide to increase the extent of land under conservation management, restore degraded land and generalize landscape-level conservation planning, biodiversity trends from habitat conversion could become positive by the mid-twenty-first century on average across models (confidence interval, 2042-2061), but this was not the case for all models. Food prices could increase and, on average across models, almost half (confidence interval, 34-50%) of the future biodiversity losses could not be avoided. However, additionally tackling the drivers of land-use change could avoid conflict with affordable food provision and reduces the environmental effects of the food-provision system. Through further sustainable intensification and trade, reduced food waste and more plant-based human diets, more than two thirds of future biodiversity losses are avoided and the biodiversity trends from habitat conversion are reversed by 2050 for almost all of the models. Although limiting further loss will remain challenging in several biodiversity-rich regions, and other threats-such as climate change-must be addressed to truly reverse the declines in biodiversity, our results show that ambitious conservation efforts and food system transformation are central to an effective post-2020 biodiversity strategy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2705-yDOI Listing
September 2020

Renewable energy production will exacerbate mining threats to biodiversity.

Nat Commun 2020 09 1;11(1):4174. Epub 2020 Sep 1.

Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Renewable energy production is necessary to halt climate change and reverse associated biodiversity losses. However, generating the required technologies and infrastructure will drive an increase in the production of many metals, creating new mining threats for biodiversity. Here, we map mining areas and assess their spatial coincidence with biodiversity conservation sites and priorities. Mining potentially influences 50 million km of Earth's land surface, with 8% coinciding with Protected Areas, 7% with Key Biodiversity Areas, and 16% with Remaining Wilderness. Most mining areas (82%) target materials needed for renewable energy production, and areas that overlap with Protected Areas and Remaining Wilderness contain a greater density of mines (our indicator of threat severity) compared to the overlapping mining areas that target other materials. Mining threats to biodiversity will increase as more mines target materials for renewable energy production and, without strategic planning, these new threats to biodiversity may surpass those averted by climate change mitigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17928-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7463236PMC
September 2020

The importance of Indigenous Peoples' lands for the conservation of terrestrial mammals.

Conserv Biol 2021 06 30;35(3):1002-1008. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Indigenous Peoples' lands cover over one-quarter of Earth's surface, a significant proportion of which is still free from industrial-level human impacts. As a result, Indigenous Peoples and their lands are crucial for the long-term persistence of Earth's biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet, information on species composition on these lands globally remains largely unknown. We conducted the first comprehensive analysis of terrestrial mammal composition across mapped Indigenous lands based on data on area of habitat (AOH) for 4460 mammal species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We overlaid each species' AOH on a current map of Indigenous lands and found that 2695 species (60% of assessed mammals) had ≥10% of their ranges on Indigenous Peoples' lands and 1009 species (23%) had >50% of their ranges on these lands. For threatened species, 473 (47%) occurred on Indigenous lands with 26% having >50% of their habitat on these lands. We also found that 935 mammal species (131 categorized as threatened) had ≥ 10% of their range on Indigenous Peoples' lands that had low human pressure. Our results show how important Indigenous Peoples' lands are to the successful implementation of conservation and sustainable development agendas worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8247428PMC
June 2021

A policy-driven framework for conserving the best of Earth's remaining moist tropical forests.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 10 10;4(10):1377-1384. Epub 2020 Aug 10.

Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.

Tropical forests vary in composition, structure and function such that not all forests have similar ecological value. This variability is caused by natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes, which influence the ability of forests to support biodiversity, store carbon, mediate water yield and facilitate human well-being. While international environmental agreements mandate protecting and restoring forests, only forest extent is typically considered, while forest quality is ignored. Consequently, the locations and loss rates of forests of high ecological value are unknown and coordinated strategies for conserving these forests remain undeveloped. Here, we map locations high in forest structural integrity as a measure of ecological quality on the basis of recently developed fine-resolution maps of three-dimensional forest structure, integrated with human pressure across the global moist tropics. Our analyses reveal that tall forests with closed canopies and low human pressure typical of natural conditions comprise half of the global humid or moist tropical forest estate, largely limited to the Amazon and Congo basins. Most of these forests have no formal protection and, given recent rates of loss, are at substantial risk. With the rapid disappearance of these 'best of the last' forests at stake, we provide a policy-driven framework for their conservation and restoration, and recommend locations to maintain protections, add new protections, mitigate deleterious human impacts and restore forest structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1274-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7529876PMC
October 2020

Impact of 2019-2020 mega-fires on Australian fauna habitat.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 10 20;4(10):1321-1326. Epub 2020 Jul 20.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Australia's 2019-2020 mega-fires were exacerbated by drought, anthropogenic climate change and existing land-use management. Here, using a combination of remotely sensed data and species distribution models, we found these fires burnt ~97,000 km of vegetation across southern and eastern Australia, which is considered habitat for 832 species of native vertebrate fauna. Seventy taxa had a substantial proportion (>30%) of habitat impacted; 21 of these were already listed as threatened with extinction. To avoid further species declines, Australia must urgently reassess the extinction vulnerability of fire-impacted species and assist the recovery of populations in both burnt and unburnt areas. Population recovery requires multipronged strategies aimed at ameliorating current and fire-induced threats, including proactively protecting unburnt habitats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1251-1DOI Listing
October 2020

Global correlates of range contractions and expansions in terrestrial mammals.

Nat Commun 2020 06 5;11(1):2840. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Understanding changes in species distributions is essential to disentangle the mechanisms that drive their responses to anthropogenic habitat modification. Here we analyse the past (1970s) and current (2017) distribution of 204 species of terrestrial non-volant mammals to identify drivers of recent contraction and expansion in their range. We find 106 species lost part of their past range, and 40 of them declined by >50%. The key correlates of this contraction are large body mass, increase in air temperature, loss of natural land, and high human population density. At the same time, 44 species have some expansion in their range, which correlates with small body size, generalist diet, and high reproductive rates. Our findings clearly show that human activity and life history interact to influence range changes in mammals. While the former plays a major role in determining contraction in species' distribution, the latter is important for both contraction and expansion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16684-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7275054PMC
June 2020

Global human influence maps reveal clear opportunities in conserving Earth's remaining intact terrestrial ecosystems.

Glob Chang Biol 2020 08 5;26(8):4344-4356. Epub 2020 Jun 5.

National Geographic Society, Washington, DC, USA.

Leading up to the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties 15, there is momentum around setting bold conservation targets. Yet, it remains unclear how much of Earth's land area remains without significant human influence and where this land is located. We compare four recent global maps of human influences across Earth's land, Anthromes, Global Human Modification, Human Footprint and Low Impact Areas, to answer these questions. Despite using various methodologies and data, these different spatial assessments independently estimate similar percentages of the Earth's terrestrial surface as having very low (20%-34%) and low (48%-56%) human influence. Three out of four spatial assessments agree on 46% of the non-permanent ice- or snow-covered land as having low human influence. However, much of the very low and low influence portions of the planet are comprised of cold (e.g., boreal forests, montane grasslands and tundra) or arid (e.g., deserts) landscapes. Only four biomes (boreal forests, deserts, temperate coniferous forests and tundra) have a majority of datasets agreeing that at least half of their area has very low human influence. More concerning, <1% of temperate grasslands, tropical coniferous forests and tropical dry forests have very low human influence across most datasets, and tropical grasslands, mangroves and montane grasslands also have <1% of land identified as very low influence across all datasets. These findings suggest that about half of Earth's terrestrial surface has relatively low human influence and offers opportunities for proactive conservation actions to retain the last intact ecosystems on the planet. However, though the relative abundance of ecosystem areas with low human influence varies widely by biome, conserving these last intact areas should be a high priority before they are completely lost.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7383735PMC
August 2020

Recent Australian wildfires made worse by logging and associated forest management.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 07;4(7):898-900

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1195-5DOI Listing
July 2020

Local conditions and policy design determine whether ecological compensation can achieve No Net Loss goals.

Nat Commun 2020 04 29;11(1):2072. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Many nations use ecological compensation policies to address negative impacts of development projects and achieve No Net Loss (NNL) of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Yet, failures are widely reported. We use spatial simulation models to quantify potential net impacts of alternative compensation policies on biodiversity (indicated by native vegetation) and two ecosystem services (carbon storage, sediment retention) across four case studies (in Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mozambique). No policy achieves NNL of biodiversity in any case study. Two factors limit their potential success: the land available for compensation (existing vegetation to protect or cleared land to restore), and expected counterfactual biodiversity losses (unregulated vegetation clearing). Compensation also fails to slow regional biodiversity declines because policies regulate only a subset of sectors, and expanding policy scope requires more land than is available for compensation activities. Avoidance of impacts remains essential in achieving NNL goals, particularly once opportunities for compensation are exhausted.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15861-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190705PMC
April 2020

Opportunities for big data in conservation and sustainability.

Nat Commun 2020 04 24;11(1):2003. Epub 2020 Apr 24.

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15870-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7181767PMC
April 2020

Reconciling global priorities for conserving biodiversity habitat.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 05 21;117(18):9906-9911. Epub 2020 Apr 21.

Global Conservation Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY 10460.

Degradation and loss of natural habitat is the major driver of the current global biodiversity crisis. Most habitat conservation efforts to date have targeted small areas of highly threatened habitat, but emerging debate suggests that retaining large intact natural systems may be just as important. We reconcile these perspectives by integrating fine-resolution global data on habitat condition and species assemblage turnover to identify Earth's high-value biodiversity habitat. These are areas in better condition than most other locations predicted to have once supported a similar assemblage of species and are found within both intact regions and human-dominated landscapes. However, only 18.6% of this high-value habitat is currently protected globally. Averting permanent biodiversity loss requires clear, spatially explicit targets for retaining these unprotected high-value habitats.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918373117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7211919PMC
May 2020

Global opportunities and challenges for transboundary conservation.

Nat Ecol Evol 2020 05 23;4(5):694-701. Epub 2020 Mar 23.

School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Rapid biodiversity loss has prompted global action to prevent further declines, yet coordinated conservation action among nations remains elusive. As a result, species with ranges that span international borders-which include 53.8% of terrestrial birds, mammals and amphibians-are in increasing peril through uncoordinated management and artificial barriers to human movement, such as border fences. Transboundary conservation initiatives represent a unique opportunity to better protect species through coordinated management across national borders. Using metrics of governance, collaboration and human pressure, we provide an index of transboundary conservation feasibility to assess global opportunities and challenges for different nations. While the transboundary conservation potential of securing multinational threatened species varied substantially, there are distinct opportunities in South-East Asia, Northern Europe, North America and South America. But to successfully avert the loss of transboundary species, the global community must be prepared to invest in some regions facing greater implementation challenges, including the nations of Central Africa, where efforts may necessitate establishing rapid conservation interventions postconflict that align with local socio-cultural opportunities and constraints. Sanctioned and coordinated approaches towards managing transboundary species are now essential to prevent further declines of many endangered species, and global policy efforts must do more to produce and enact legitimate mechanisms for collaborative action in conservation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1160-3DOI Listing
May 2020
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