Habitat loss rampant across Earth; more than half converted to human-dominated land use

Dec 7 2016 University of Queensland ScienceDaily

…researchers from three continents found habitat destruction still far outstrips habitat protection across many parts of the planet….. the published study revealed more than half the planet could now be classified as completely converted to human-dominated land use.

“An area of 4.5 million square kilometres, or about two thirds the size of Australia, has been converted to human-dominated land use in the past two decades alone,” he said.

“As a consequence of past and recent habitat loss, almost half of the world’s ecoregions now must be classified at very high risk, as 25 times more land has been converted than protected.

…The researchers identified 41 ecoregions across 45 nations that are in a ‘crisis state’, where humans have converted more than 10 per cent of the little remaining habitat in the past two decades. “These crisis and at-risk ecoregions are clearly the places where targeted conservation interventions need to be prioritised,” Associate Professor Watson said. “But this means a rethink in how nations do conservation planning. Nations tend to place protected areas in remote locations, where nobody else is vying to convert the land. This does not help save threatened biodiversity, and we must urgently start strategically placing new protected areas in zones that will be destroyed without conservation action.”…

James E.M. Watson, Kendall R. Jones, Richard A. Fuller, Moreno Di Marco, Daniel B. Segan, Stuart H.M. Butchart, James R. Allan, Eve McDonald-Madden, Oscar Venter. Persistent Disparities between Recent Rates of Habitat Conversion and Protection and Implications for Future Global Conservation Targets. Conservation Letters, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12295

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