Sustainable agriculture and forestry could reduce the risk of extinction by 40%

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Rice field in Sumatra, Indonesia © Nico Boersen / Pixabay

Ensuring the sustainability of plant and wood production This would mitigate the major causes of land animal decline, which is responsible for 40% of the total risk of extinction for amphibians, birds and mammals. This is evident from an article published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. These results were generated using a new metric that enables businesses, governments and civil society for the first time to assess their potential contributions to curbing global species loss and can be used to calculate national, regional, sectoral or institutional metrics. specific goals. The work was led by the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Post-2020 Task Force hosted by Newcastle University (UK) in collaboration with scientists from BirdLife and 53 other institutions in 21 countries around the world.

“For years, the inability to measure the impact of their efforts has been a major barrier to the involvement of businesses, governments and others in the conservation of biodiversity,” said IUCN Director General Dr. Bruno Oberle. “By quantifying their contributions, the new STAR metric can bring all of these actors together to achieve the common goal of preserving the diversity of life on earth. We need concerted global action to protect the world’s biodiversity and thus our own safety and wellbeing. “

The authors applied the new STAR (Species Threat Abatement and Restoration) metric to all types of amphibians, birds, and mammals – groups of terrestrial vertebrate species that are extensively rated on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. They found that eliminating threats to wildlife from crop production would reduce the global risk of extinction in these groups by 24%. Ending threats caused by unsustainable deforestation worldwide would reduce this by another 16%, while removing threats associated with invasive alien species would mean a further 10% reduction, according to the paper. STAR can also be used to calculate the benefits of restoration: the global risk of extinction could potentially be reduced by 56% through a comprehensive restoration of the habitats of threatened species, according to the paper.

Actions that benefit more species, and especially the most threatened species, result in higher STAR scores. The results show that protecting key biodiversity areas, which cover only 9% of the land surface, could reduce the global risk of extinction by almost half (47%). While each country contributes to the global STAR score, conservation in five countries with great diversity could reduce the global risk of extinction by nearly a third (31%), with Indonesia alone potentially contributing 7%.

“We are in the middle of a biodiversity crisis and resources are limited. However, our study shows that the risk of extinction is concentrated in relatively small areas with larger numbers of critically endangered species. With the STAR methodology, we can consistently measure where and how conservation and restoration can have the greatest impact, ”said Louise Mair of Newcastle University, lead author of the study. “At the same time, our analysis shows that threats to species are omnipresent and that measures to curb the death of humans on earth must be taken in all countries without exception.”

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To show how the metric can be used by individual institutions, the authors applied STAR to an 88,000 acre commercial rubber initiative in central Sumatra, Indonesia, where the greatest threats to biodiversity are crop production, logging and hunting . By reducing these threats on its property, the company reported a 0.2% reduction in overall risk of extinction in Sumatra, 0.04% in Indonesia and 0.003% globally. These results would be partly due to the protection of the populations of the tiger Panthera tigris (endangered) and the Asian elephant Elephas maximus (endangered) as well as the leaf-nosed bats Hipposideros orbiculus (endangered), which can only be found in the region.

Measuring contributions to biodiversity goals and assessing biodiversity-related risk – both facilitated by STAR – can be incorporated into corporate environmental, social and governance reporting. “The STAR Metric provides a powerful new tool that will be of use to governments, the private sector and others to assess the potential contributions of various policies in different locations to global conservation,” said Melanie Heath, director of science, policy and information at BirdLife.

The STAR metric will be available in time to inform important international negotiations on nature in 2021. These include the IUCN World Congress on Nature Conservation in Marseille, France, in September, followed by the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China.

“The post-2020 global biodiversity framework aims to identify specific actions that will improve the general state of biodiversity,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. “STAR provides a way to measure how reducing threats in a given location can reduce the overall risk of extinction by linking the proposed measures with realizing the Convention’s vision of living in harmony with nature.”