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Protecting nature starts with science

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

IUCN Member, Conservation International (CI), reports on several important scientific articles by CI experts related to marine conservation off the coasts of Peru and Chile, the use of motion-detector cameras in protected areas to assess wildlife declines from poaching, and delays in conservation delays impact climate benefits from protecting nature. Published by Kiley Price on Feb 25, 2021, includes the following specific quotes: 1. An effective strategy to protect a high seas hotspot

  • More than 60 percent of the world’s oceans lie beyond the jurisdiction of any nation — an area commonly known as the “high seas”.

  • Only about 1 percent of this vast and largely unexplored expanse is protected.

  • In a new report, a team of ocean experts outlines the importance of creating a high seas marine protected area in one of the most unique biodiversity hotspots on Earth: the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges.

  • Co-authored by 27 leading experts in ocean science, policy and law, the report found that the most effective strategies to protect the Salas y Gómez and Nazca ridges include limiting fishing activities, prohibiting seabed mining and establishing a high seas marine protected area in the region.

2. Conserving wildlife — and the roles they play in nature — to improve ecosystem health

  • Deforestation, the global wildlife trade and other human activities are decimating species around the planet.

  • According to a new study, they are also eliminating the critical functions that native wildlife and plants provide for healthy ecosystems.

  • To do this, the researchers first analyzed wildlife photos from 15 protected areas in tropical forests around the world, including in Asia, Africa and South America. The photos were pulled from the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring Network, which uses motion-detector cameras to monitor global species trends in tropical forests.

  • Then, they studied the known traits of each of these species and compared them to the traits of other species in that area, calculating what is known as an ecosystem’s “functional diversity” — the variety of roles species play in their habitats.

  • The study’s authors concluded that destructive human activities decrease the diversity of species’ traits in an area, which can have particularly profound impacts on an ecosystem’s food chain.

3. Conservation delays can reduce climate benefits from protecting nature

  • In 2017, a team of scientists led by Conservation International’s Bronson Griscom produced a landmark study: They found that nature can provide at least 30 percent of the carbon emissions reductions necessary to keep average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • However, the speed at which countries protect and restore nature is just as important as its mitigation potential, according to a recent paper co-authored by Griscom

  • The paper’s authors analyzed a variety of factors that can reduce or delay the climate benefits from projects that protect or restore nature — including the speed at which a project is implemented, the amount of land involved and an area’s ability to absorb emissions.

  • Depending on these factors, they found that delays could slash a project’s expected emissions reductions — sometimes in half — by mid-century.

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