Are we protecting the right land to save threatened species?

Eastern Quoll (Photo credit: David Jenkins via Flickr)
Eastern Quoll (Photo credit: David Jenkins via Flickr)

Globally, fourteen percent of land is tied up in protected areas — national parks, nature reserves and the like — ostensibly to protect the world’s dwindling biodiversity. But how effective are these areas at actually preventing extinctions? Not very, according to a landmark study a decade ago that showed only a paltry 11% of threatened birds, mammals and amphibians were adequately protected. One fifth of the species weren’t found anywhere in network.

A decade on, protected areas have expanded, but a new study shows that the situation for the world’s most vulnerable species remains poor — many are still missing out.

So, what can we do? The new analysis suggests a way forward. By calculating the value of setting aside different packets of land, they found that instead of setting aside the cheapest land available — as mostly happens now — a slightly larger investment could improve the protected area network drastically.

I wrote about this study for Cosmos Magazine, so check out the full article here.