Science Advances Digital Cover Vol. 5, no. 4, May 2019 Image Credit: Greg Asner and Nick Vaughn, ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.  Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

Science Advances Digital Cover Vol. 5, no. 4, May 2019 Image Credit: Greg Asner and Nick Vaughn, ASU Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.
Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

GLOBAL DEAL FOR NATURE, SCIENCE ADVANCES (APRIL 2019)

This paper presents a “Global Deal for Nature” (GDN), a time-sensitive, science-driven plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth from the climate crisis. The GDN aims to prevent the average global temperature from rising above 1.5 ºC by achieving formal protection for 30% of the Earth and securing an additional 20% of the planet as designated climate stabilization areas by 2050.

According to the report’s authors, preserving at least 50% of the planet as intact natural habitats by 2050, is the only path that will enable a climate-resilient future.

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GLOBAL ASSESSMENT REPORT ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES,  INTERGOVERNMENTAL SCIENCE-POLICY PLATFORM ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES (IPBES)

This report provides the most comprehensive global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services to date. Its findings indicate that about 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

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BIODIVERSITY

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Effective Coverage Targets for Ocean Protection, Conservation Letters

This paper assesses whether the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity’s accepted target to set aside 10% of the ocean as marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020, is adequate to achieve its goals of protecting biodiversity, preserving ecosystem services, and achieving its socioeconomic priorities. The researchers concluded that the 10% target is too low, while a goal of 30% or more better estimates what is needed to achieve the aforementioned goals.

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HOW MANY SPECIES ARE THERE ON EARTH AND IN THE OCEAN?, PLOS BIOLOGY

This paper seeks to provide a model by which the total number of species can be estimated. Their findings suggest the existence of 8.7 million eukaryotic species globally, of which roughly 2.2 million are marine — a figure critical to providing a reference point for current and future losses of biodiversity.

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Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity, PNAS

This paper seeks to present a unified scaling law capable of predicting an estimate of all microorganisms on Earth. Their results predict that the Earth is home to as many as 1 trillion microbial species.

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Space for Nature, Science

This article examines the question of how much space is needed, i.e. how much should be conserved, to safeguard biodiversity and preserve ecosystem benefits. Their findings suggest governments to set minimum targets of protecting 30% of the oceans and land by 2030, with a focus on areas of high biodiversity and/or productivity, and to aim to secure 50% by 2050.

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The Diversity of Life, E.O. Wilson

One of the world’s preeminent naturalists presents an accounting of the diversity of life on the planet and how humanity is destroying that diversity. His book provides an illustrative roadmap of life on the planet over millennia and looks at our hand in eroding the systems that support the intricate and complicated webs of life. Wilson sees a path forward where the preservation of the natural world can and must work in concert with forces for economic development.

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Half Earth, E.O. Wilson

World-renowned biologist and Pulitzer Prize winning author E.O. Wilson lays out his daring plan to dedicate half of the surface of the Earth to nature to stave off the worst effects of climate change and safeguard life for the future. He outlines a blueprint for achieving rapid, transformative change that includes identifying regions of the planet that can still be reclaimed like the Amazon River basin, the California redwood forest, the grasslands of the Serengeti, and others.

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HABITAT DESTRUCTION

 
Copy of In the News

IN THE NEWS:

CLIMATE CHANGE AND LAND REPORT (IPCC)

An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

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THE BIOMASS DISTRIBUTION ON EARTH, PNAS

This paper assembles a census of the biomass of all kingdoms of life to provide a global, holistic view of the composition of the biosphere and allow for the observation of broad patterns over taxonomic categories, geographic locations, and trophic modes.

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TROPHIC DOWNGRADING OF PLANET EARTH, SCIENCE

This paper looks at how the loss of large apex consumers could affect trophic cascades and the  potential consequences it could have on the dynamics of disease, wildfire, carbon sequestration, invasive species, and biogeochemical cycles.

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LIVING PLANET REPORT, WWF

This report uses multiple indices, most notably the Living Planet Index to provide a comprehensive look at the health of the planet and trends in global biodiversity. The report’s key finding shows a 60% overall decline in global vertebrate populations from 1970 to 2014.

It concludes that without a drastic change, the current severe declines will continue with grave consequences for nature and people.

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TRACKING THE GLOBAL FOOTPRINT OF FISHERIES, SCIENCE

This paper puts together a global dynamic footprint of fishing efforts based on data sets from 2012 to 2016. The researchers’ analysis of these data sets show that industrial fishing occurs in more than 55% of the world’s oceans spanning an area four times that of terrestrial agriculture.

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FISHING DOWN THE MARINE FOOD WEBS, SCIENCE

This paper analyzes the amount and kind of fish global fisheries were “landing” (fish catches that don’t include any fish that were discarded) between 1950 and 1994. Their results show a shift in global fisheries from larger fishes to smaller fishes and invertebrates which suggests their operations are moving down the food web. The implications are larger short-term catches, long-term declines, future instability, and major implications for the marine food web.

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UNEXPECTEDLY LARGE IMPACT OF FOREST MANAGEMENT AND GRAZING ON GLOBAL VEGETATION BIOMASS, NATURE

This paper analyzes seven global maps of actual biomass stocks. The researchers’ analysis suggests that the amount of carbon stored by vegetation versus the potential it could store in the absence of land use (estimated to be more than twice as much), provides evidence for the massive effect of land use on biomass stocks.

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CATCH RECONSTRUCTIONS REVEAL THAT GLOBAL MARINE FISHERIES CATCHES ARE HIGHER THAN REPORTED AND DECLINING, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS

This paper’s authors suggest that the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) global marine fisheries catch trajectories substantially underestimated peak catches and show a need for improved monitoring of all fisheries.

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ANTHROPOGENIC TRANSFORMATION OF THE BIOMES, 1700 TO 2000, GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY

This paper maps anthropogenic biomes for 1700, 1800, 1900 and 2000, using a model applied to global human population density and land use (for ice-free land). Their findings show land use expansion and intensification has led to the sharp decline in wild and seminatural lands and that most of the Earth’s land, not currently in use for agriculture or urban settlements, is embedded within anthropogenic biomes. Therefore, they suggest that the conservation, restoration and enhancement of these embedded areas is paramount to the preservation of species and ecosystems we value.

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CLASSIFYING DRIVERS OF GLOBAL FOREST LOSS, SCIENCE

This study used high-resolution Google Earth imagery to map and classify global forest loss between 2001 and 2015. The study’s results indicate that policies designed to achieve zero-deforestation commitments are not being adopted or implemented at the pace needed to meet 2020 goals.

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ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

 
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IMPACTS OF BIODIVERSITY LOSS ON OCEAN ECOSYSTEM SERVICES, SCIENCE

This paper provides an analysis of how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across time and space. The researchers’ findings  show that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean’s capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from disturbances.

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TROPICAL FORESTS AND CLIMATE CHANGE: THE LATEST SCIENCE, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE

This report synthesizes the latest findings relative to tropical rainforest loss and its potential impacts on climate. It proposes that tropical forest losses are having a larger impact on climate than has been commonly understood.

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NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS, PNAS

This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of “natural climate solutions” (NCS) to examine how much nature can contribute to the goal of holding the average global temperature rise to below 2º C. The researchers’ findings suggest that NCS, in combination with aggressive fossil fuel emissions reductions, can provide over one-third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to keep the average global temperature below the 2º C mark.

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AVOIDING THE CLIMATE FAILSAFE POINT, SCIENCE ADVANCES

This article highlights how new research is helping scientists to better understand the inner workings of climate-sensitive relationships among species, including how even very subtle changes in temperature can have devastating effects on ecosystems.

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PREDATORS HELP PROTECT CARBON STOCKS IN BLUE CARBON ECOSYSTEMS, NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE

This paper examines the role predators play in altering the ability of vegetated coastal ecosystems to accumulate and store carbon. The researchers’ findings show that predators play important and potentially irreplaceable roles in carbon cycling and are critical to maintaining or growing reserves of 'blue carbon' (carbon stored in coastal or marine ecosystems).

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BENEFITS OF PROTECTED AREAS

 
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A GENERAL BUSINESS MODEL FOR MARINE RESERVES, PLOS ONE

In this paper researchers use bio-economic modeling to demonstrate how marine reserves can be created and maintained in a financially self-sustaining manner. Their model provides evidence that fishing revenue increases after the creation of a reserve and tourism revenue surpasses the revenues from fishing.

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2018 PROTECTED PLANET REPORT, UNEP-WCMC, IUCN AND NGS

This report provides an update on the global progress, as of July 2018, toward the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 set forth in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

The report concludes that the Aichi Target 11 is likely to be met by 2020 in terms of area coverage, but will not likely meet its overall goals of preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services if these other considerations are not achieved.

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PROTECTING THE WILD, GEORGE WUERTHNER, EILEEN CRIST AND TOM BUTLER

This book brings together experts from five continents that reaffirm the importance of parks, wilderness areas, and other reserves in sustaining species, providing key habitat, preserving ecological processes and safeguarding evolutionary potential. They utilize the latest research to highlight how preserving our lands and waters is critical to safeguarding biodiversity, mitigating the effects of climate change and countering extinctions.

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NO TAKE MARINE RESERVES ARE THE MOST EFFECTIVE PROTECTED AREAS IN THE OCEAN, ICES JOURNAL OF MARINE SCIENCE

This paper presents a meta-analysis of previous studies to examine what types of marine protected areas (MPAs) are more effective and under which conditions. The analysis shows that no-take “marine reserves” – MPAs with the strongest protections – are by far the most effective type and are successful at restoring and preserving biodiversity, and enhancing ecosystem resilience.

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WELL-BEING OUTCOMES OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS, NATURE SUSTAINABILITY

Researchers in this study assessed 118 peer-reviewed articles that looked at the effects of marine protected areas on the people in the nearby vicinity. They found that no-take, well-enforced and old marine protected areas had positive human well-being outcomes relative to economic and governance aspects of well-being.

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INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES

 
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A SPATIAL OVERVIEW OF THE GLOBAL IMPORTANCE OF INDIGENOUS LANDS FOR CONSERVATION, NATURE SUSTAINABILITY

This paper provides a first estimation of the overlap between Indigenous Peoples’ lands and protected areas, human anthropogenic biomes, and the degree that humans influence these.

The researchers’ findings show that in total, Indigenous Peoples influence land management across at least 28.1% of land area. They suggest collaboration between conservation practitioners, Indigenous Peoples, and governments would yield significant benefits.

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OTHER EFFECTIVE AREA‐ BASED CONSERVATION MEASURES: FROM AICHI TARGET 11 TO THE POST‐2020 BIODIVERSITY FRAMEWORK, PARKS: THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PROTECTED AREAS AND CONSERVATION

This essay reviewed the draft guidelines for defining Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) as they existed prior to the 14th Conference of the Parties in November 2018.

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