Area-based conservation needs strengthening for effective conservation  

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Environmental scientists have opined that effective area-based conservation efforts for better protection of the environment and providing benefits for the people need to be better funded, climate smart, and equitably managed.

In the study — Area based conservation in the 21st century–, the researches says that governments, private entities, and conservation organisations should boost the effectiveness of Protected Areas and other area based conservation efforts.

The ‘Area based conservation in the 21st century review was led by the University of Queensland and the World database on protected Areas managed by UNEP-WCMC underpinned this analysis.

As per the study, there are over 260,000 designated protected areas worldwide. However, the researchers said that there were huge short falls in ecological representation, measurable biodiversity and management effectiveness that diminish the potential role of area-based conservation in stemming biodiversity loss. They also mentioned that about 80 per cent of the threatened species and more than half of all ecosystems on land and sea remain without adequate protection.

UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre Director Neville Ash said that expanding protected areas over the next decade would be crucial for conservation outcomes and securing benefits from biodiversity. However, protected areas without effective management won’t stop biodiversity loss or provide other benefits, Ash added.

“This research sets out clear actions to boost the effectiveness of protected areas. With the necessary leadership and resources, area-based conservation measures will play a crucial role in tackling the global nature crisis, and providing a more secure future for people and nature,” Ash said.

The study also mentioned that global funding for species protection has more than halved in the past two decades (from approximately 200 million dollars per year in the 2000s to 100 million dollars per year in the 2010s).

They mentioned in the analysis that area-based conservation measures must be climate smart through restoration and adaptation efforts. It was also noted that recognition and support for nature conservation by community groups, indigenous people and private entities (Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs)) should be better mobilised. The OECMs, such as sacred national sites can help improve landscape and seascape connectivity and make global conservation efforts more ecologically representative, the analysis said.

Study lead author Dr Sean Maxwell  (University of Queensland) said that adequately funded and equitably managed protected areas are one of the best tools for reducing threats to biodiversity. But the present financial shortfall for area-based conservation exceeds the multi-billion dollar mark, and as much as 90 per cent have on-site staff capacity that is inadequate or below optimum, Maxwell said. ”

Dr Naomi Kingston, contributing author and Head of Operations, UNEP-WCMC, pointed out that protected areas are key to halting and reversing biodiversity loss. “In order to achieve the new round of ambitious global biodiversity targets expected next year, areas designated for nature conservation must be effectively and equitably managed and governed. Governments, the private sector, and conservation organisations all have a role to play,” Kingston said.

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