The researchers found that strengthening protection for areas already protected by law or local communities is as important for biodiversity conservation as creating new protected areas to reduce biodiversity loss. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.
A study led by Princeton University found that about 70 percent of the nearly 5,000 species studied were underrepresented in protected areas, degraded, reduced or removed from protection, or occurred in areas particularly vulnerable to extinction. Future land use change. However, by strengthening protected areas and expanding park networks on 1 percent of the planet’s land area, essential habitats for 1191 animal species, particularly endangered species, can be protected.
„Parks save species. But they can only do that if parks are protected from harmful activities,” said David Wilcove, professor of ecological and evolutionary biology and public affairs at the Princeton Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research. „Our study demonstrates how important it is to protect the habitats that protect species,” Wilkov said.
The new study’s findings come amid growing recognition of the need to preserve the planet’s species diversity by creating new protected areas. For example, at the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity COP15 in December 2022, countries agreed on a goal to set aside 30 percent of the planet’s land and seas as protected areas. Recent research sheds light on another important aspect of wildlife conservation – ensuring that already protected areas continue to be safe havens for biodiversity.
„Our study points to where new parks can be created, but also where to restore and strengthen existing parks to improve wildlife conservation,” said lead author Yiwen Zheng, who completed the research as an associate research scholar at the Princeton Center. Energy and Environmental Policy Research. „Many global discussions on conservation focus on the need to create new protected areas, but our study also shows the importance of ensuring that protected areas are effective in preventing harmful human activities,” said Zheng, now a research assistant professor. Center for Nature-Based Climate Solutions, National University of Singapore.
This is important because without adequate enforcement or political support for wildlife conservation, protected areas can become vulnerable to harmful human activities. Parks become less effective in protecting species when the government decides to withdraw the legal protections that govern a park, reducing the amount or extent of protection afforded to it, and experiencing such downgrading, reduction or removal from protection.
These changes can result in forest clearance for infrastructure expansion, mining or other activities and translate into loss or degradation of habitats. As of 2021, 278 million hectares of parks are known to be collectively subject to this type of degradation, the researchers found.
For example, Megophrys damrei is a highly endangered frog found only in Cambodia and nowhere else. Although its habitats are protected, the region continues to experience habitat degradation and loss within the national park boundaries and in the immediate vicinity. Additionally, expanding the protected area network will benefit habitats that are currently under-protected. For example, the study found that protecting an additional 330 square kilometers of natural landscapes within Indonesia would protect suitable habitat for 53 species that currently have no protected area and have limited habitat area.
„There are many wonderful examples of people fighting to protect species in conservation, but when you take your eye off the ball, the pressure mounts and there’s always the risk that hard-won conservation will be lost,” said former postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Sr. Researcher at Princeton and now Assistant Professor of Ecology at Durham University in England. „Designating parks on paper is not enough; they have to be in the right places, with the right management, and they have to last,” said the elder. (ANI)
(This story was not edited by DevDiscourse staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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