Bending the curve of biodiversity

Sep 10, 2020 | News

How to reverse the loss of nature? 

GLOBIO features in a new international scenario-based modelling study which shows that ambitious action can reverse the trend of terrestrial biodiversity loss resulting from habitat conversion. Reversing this trend requires an integrated portfolio of measures including area-based conservation, restoration of degraded land and a transformation of the food system. The study, from an international modelling consortium including PBL, is published in Nature on September 10.

Global terrestrial biodiversity has been declining at an alarming rate for many years now, with habitat conversion as one of the main drivers. To halt or reverse this downward trend, it is important to know what is needed to make a change. A large international consortium, led by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), set out to explore strategies to reverse global biodiversity trends by 2050. 

For global trends of terrestrial biodiversity as affected by land use to stop declining and start recovering by 2050, the consortium concluded that action is needed in two key areas: 1) increasing conservation and restoration efforts (for example, increasing protected areas) and 2) transforming the global food system in order to reduce the need for agriculture land (for example, through sustainable intensification, reduced food waste, or a lower share of animal products in future diets). Only an integrated and comprehensive ‘package’ of measures would allow to feed the growing human population while reversing global terrestrial biodiversity trends induced by habitat conversion. Action in only one domain would not achieve this result and could also lead to unwanted side effects such as rising food prices.

The study focused on habitat conversion as a main threat to terrestrial biodiversity. However, there are various other threats to biodiversity, including for example pollution, infrastructure and climate change. Further work is needed to more systematically incorporate other relevant biodiversity threats in upcoming scenario studies. Nevertheless, the result of this multi-model assessment indicate that bold conservation efforts and food system transformation are central to an effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

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