18 February 2023

A snapshot of biodiversity protection in Antarctica

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Abstract: "Threats to Antarctic biodiversity are escalating, despite its remoteness and protection under the Antarctic Treaty. Increasing human activity, pollution, biological invasions and the omnipresent impacts of climate change all contribute, and often combine, to exert pressure on Antarctic ecosystems and environments. Here we present a continent-wide assessment of terrestrial biodiversity protection in Antarctica. Despite Antarctic Specially Protected Areas covering less than 2% of Antarctica, 44% of species (including seabirds, plants, lichens and invertebrates) are found in one or more protected areas. However, protection is regionally uneven and biased towards easily detectable and charismatic species like seabirds. Systematic processes to prioritize area protection using the best available data will maximize the likelihood of ensuring long-term protection and conservation of Antarctic biodiversity."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08915-6

Effects of roads on giant panda distribution: a mountain range scale evaluation

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Abstract: "Few studies have focused on the mountain ranges scale effects of roads on wildlife. This lack of data could lead to an underestimation of the negative impact of roads on animal populations. We analyzed a dataset that included 74.4% of the giant panda population and covered 78.7% of the global giant panda habitat to estimate road-effect zones for major roads, and to investigate how these major roads influenced the distribution of giant pandas on a mountain range spatial scale. We found that the density of giant panda signs was significantly decreased by proximity to major roads. The effect zone reached 5,000 m from national roads and 1,500 m from provincial roads. Structural equation model analysis revealed that the strongest negative impact of major roads on giant pandas was via the reduction of nearby forest cover. The results should provide a better understanding of the impact of anthropogenic infrastructure and regional economic development on wildlife, thus providing a basis for conservation policy decisions. We suggest that the environmental impact assessment of proposed roadways or further researches on road ecological effects should expand to a larger scale and consider the possible habitat degradation caused by road access."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-37447-0

Mapping the planet’s critical natural assets

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Abstract: "Sustaining the organisms, ecosystems and processes that underpin human wellbeing is necessary to achieve sustainable development. Here we define critical natural assets as the natural and semi-natural ecosystems that provide 90% of the total current magnitude of 14 types of nature’s contributions to people (NCP), and we map the global locations of these critical natural assets at 2 km resolution. Critical natural assets for maintaining local-scale NCP (12 of the 14 NCP) account for 30% of total global land area and 24% of national territorial waters, while 44% of land area is required to also maintain two global-scale NCP (carbon storage and moisture recycling). These areas overlap substantially with cultural diversity (areas containing 96% of global languages) and biodiversity (covering area requirements for 73% of birds and 66% of mammals). At least 87% of the world’s population live in the areas benefitting from critical natural assets for local-scale NCP, while only 16% live on the lands containing these assets. Many of the NCP mapped here are left out of international agreements focused on conserving species or mitigating climate change, yet this analysis shows that explicitly prioritizing critical natural assets and the NCP they provide could simultaneously advance development, climate and conservation goals."

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-022-01934-5

Potential impact on whales overlooked as deep-sea mining looks set to start, experts say

A pod of sperm whales.

Abstract: "Scientists say future deep-sea mining activities could impact cetaceans through noise pollution, which could interfere with their communication processes. According to an opinion piece, a team of experts say assessments of deep-sea mining impact have focused on species associated with the seabed rather than transitory megafauna that inhabit the proposed mining areas, and that urgent research is needed to understand the potential impact on cetaceans. However, a mining company says it is evaluating the potential impact of its proposed operations on cetaceans through the gathering of acoustic data during its recent mining test in the CCZ, which it will combine with three years of environmental baseline data. Deep-sea mining in international waters may begin later this year after the Pacific island nation of Nauru, which sponsors a subsidiary of a Canadian mining firm, requested accelerated approval of its mining operation."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2023/02/potential-impact-on-whales-overlooked-as-deep-sea-mining-looks-set-to-start/

26 October 2022

Latest ‘plan for the planet’ calls for protecting 44% of land, home to 1.8b humans

 Minimum land area for conserving terrestrial biodiversity. Components include PAs (light blue), KBAs (purple), and ecologically intact areas (dark blue). Where they overlap, PAs are shown above KBAs, which are shown above ecologically intact areas. New conservation priorities are in green. The Venn diagram shows the proportional overlap between features. Map courtesy of Allan et al.

Abstract: "A new study says 44% of Earth’s terrestrial area needs conservation attention to halt the runaway destruction of the natural world. The figure is significantly higher than the goal currently under discussion as part of the global post-2020 agenda, which is to protect 30% of land and ocean by 2030. The area identified for protection by the new study is home to 1.8 billion people, almost a quarter of the human population. The study authors suggest prioritizing biologically rich regions at the highest risk of being converted for human use by 2030, most notably in Africa."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2022/06/latest-plan-for-the-planet-calls-for-protecting-44-of-land-home-to-1-8b-humans/

17 September 2022

Zero-deforestation commitments ‘fundamentally limited’ in tackling deforestation, study argues

Abstract: "Researchers found that while 90-99% of tropical deforestation in 2011-2015 was driven by agricultural industries, only 45-65% of the cleared land was actually used to grow crops or raise cattle. The rest of the cleared land was the result of activities such as speculative clearing and out-of-control agricultural fires, the study says. The researchers also concluded that because three-quarters of tropical deforestation is driven by domestic demand, corporate zero-deforestation pledges geared toward expert markets are limited in their ability to reduce this forest loss."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2022/09/zero-deforestation-commitments-fundamentally-limited-in-tackling-deforestation-study-argues/

‘Mind-blowing’ marine heat waves put Mediterranean ecosystems at grave risk

Mediterranean coast.

Abstract: "A recent study reveals the widespread effects of climate change-driven marine heat waves on the ecological communities of the Mediterranean Sea. Rises in sea surface temperatures as high as 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) above normal have caused die-offs in 50 different taxonomic groups of animals from around the Mediterranean Basin. These far-reaching impacts of the warming sea could devastate the fisheries on which many of the Mediterranean region’s 400 million people rely. Researchers advocate bolstering and expanding marine protected areas. Although they can’t hold back the warmer waters that have proven deadly to the sea’s rich biodiversity, these sanctuaries can help ensure that these species don’t have to cope simultaneously with other pressures, such as overfishing or pollution."

Read More: https://news.mongabay.com/2022/09/mind-blowing-marine-heat-waves-put-mediterranean-ecosystems-at-grave-risk/