Conservation Efforts Are Succeeding: Biodiversity Loss Has Slowed, Global Study Confirms

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A first-of-its-kind study that analyzed hundreds of conservation actions around the world has confirmed that efforts toward preserving wildlife are resulting in measurable achievements.

The international study, published in the journal Science, sought to assess whether conservation efforts were having any positive impacts on biodiversity. Researchers analyzed 186 studies, including 665 trials, and measured changes to biodiversity.

Overall, the researchers found that about two-thirds of the studied conservation actions at minimum slowed biodiversity declines or led to improved biodiversity.

“If you read the headlines about extinction these days, it would be easy to get the impression that we are failing biodiversity — but that’s not really looking at the whole picture,” Penny Langhammer, co-author of the study and executive vice president of Re:wild, told the BBC. “This study provides the strongest evidence to date that not only does conservation improve the state of biodiversity and slow its decline, but when it works, it really works.”

 

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According to the study, some actions were particularly impactful on biodiversity. Some of the most effective efforts include controlling invasive species, reducing habitat loss, restoring wildlife habitats, establishing protected areas, and managing ecosystems in sustainable ways.

“What we show with this paper is that conservation is, in fact, working to halt and reverse biodiversity loss,” Landhammer said in a press release. “It is clear that conservation must be prioritized and receive significant additional resources and political support globally, while we simultaneously address the systemic drivers of biodiversity loss, such as unsustainable consumption and production.”

The study highlighted multiple efforts that resulted in wins for biodiversity. For instance, the authors noted that managing invasive species as well as “problematic native species” on Cayo Costa and North Captiva, two islands of Florida, led to better nesting success rates for loggerhead turtles and least terns.

The study authors highlighted a conservation initiative that established a Forest Management Plan in the Congo Basin, which led to 74% lower rates of deforestation.

In another example, the researchers showed that in the Brazilian part of the Amazon Rainforest, protected areas and Indigenous lands had lower rates of deforestation and human-caused forest fires; unprotected areas experienced deforestation rates up to 20 times higher and human-caused fires happened four to nine times more often.

In Idaho, a captive breeding and release program helped improve reproductive rates of Chinook salmon, which led to the restoration of the species’ natural population in the wild.

“Our study shows that when conservation actions work, they really work. In other words, they often lead to outcomes for biodiversity that are not just a little bit better than doing nothing at all, but many times greater,” Jake Bicknell, co-author of the study and senior lecturer at Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology of the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK said in a statement. “For instance, putting measures in place to boost the population size of an endangered species has often seen their numbers increase substantially. This effect has been mirrored across a large proportion of the case studies we looked at.”

However, the authors explained that conservation measures didn’t always help out as intended. In about one in every five cases, efforts actually led to declines for the target species; however, in some of these instances, the conservation actions still unintentionally benefited other species.

All in all, the authors noted that global conservation efforts need additional funding, and a variety of conservation efforts need to be implemented in order to curb biodiversity decline. They estimated that a global conservation program would cost about $178 billion to $524 billion per year.

“Although high, these costs are dwarfed by the value that biodiversity provides to society through the delivery of ecosystem services,” the authors wrote in the study conclusion. “Thus, conservation actions are investments rather than payments — and, as our study demonstrates, they are typically investments that yield genuine, high-magnitude positive impacts.”

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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