Conservation actions are improving biodiversity

A new landmark study has been published in the journal Science which shows that actions for nature conservation are having a markedly positive effect on biodiversity, but to truly meet global targets, transformational scaling up will be required.

This study is the first of its kind to conduct a single global meta-analysis to investigate whether conservation action is working overall. To do this, the study analysed 186 different studies, including 665 trials, that measured biodiversity over time, and compared the outcomes of a wide range of conservation actions worldwide to the effect on biodiversity if no action had been taken. Specifically, the study considered seven intervention types aiming to tackle drivers of environmental degradation, these were:

  1. Establishment and management of protected areas
  2. Other measures to reduce habitat loss and degradation such as policy and restoration
  3. Sustainable use of species
  4. Sustainable management of ecosystems
  5. Control of pollution
  6. Eradication and control of invasive alien (an problematic species)
  7. Climate change adaptation

The study found that in two-thirds of cases, conservation actions either improved the state of biodiversity or slowed declines and that the overall impact of conservation is positive and significant, yielding beneficial outcomes for biodiversity when compared to the absence of intervention. Specifically, those interventions which target species and ecosystems, such as invasive species control, habitat loss reduction and restoration, protected areas and sustainable management are highly effective and often have sizeable areas of effect. A notable success story from the report is that following the introduction of proper management plans, deforestation rates have fallen by 74%in the Congo Basin, a vital area for biodiversity.

The study concludes, that although this is a significant ray of hope, these conservation actions require significant scaling up if they are to reverse the global biodiversity crisis. Currently, there are simply not enough conservation actions being implemented, and to achieve the Global Biodiversity Frameworks goal of reversing biodiversity decline by the end of the decade substantial funding and commitment for the implementation of effective conservation interventions must be found.