BYRON BAY, AUSTRALIA (August, 18, 2021) – With the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) preparing to meet in October to inform conservation efforts for the next 10 years, with finalization in early 2022, a coalition of scientists says an effective ecosystem goal, supported by clear milestones, targets, and indicators, is urgently needed.

Publishing in the journal, Nature Ecology & Evolution, the scientists say that the ecosystem goal should include three core components: area, integrity, and risk of collapse. Targets, the actions necessary for the goals to be met, should address pathways to ecosystem loss and recovery, including safeguarding remnants of threatened ecosystems, restoring their area and integrity to reduce collapse risk, and retaining highly intact areas.

Last month, the CBD Secretariat released the first draft of the new global biodiversity framework to be negotiated in October by representatives of 196 member countries at the Conference of the Parties (COP15) in Kunming, China; due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final CoP that adopts the framework will take place in early 2022. The authors of the study argue that the framework’s indicators on ecosystems as currently drafted will not provide a clear picture of how all ecosystems are changing worldwide.

Multiple indicators are needed to capture the different dimensions of ecosystem area, integrity and collapse risk across all ecosystem types, and should be selected for fitness-for-purpose and relevance to goal components. Science-based goals, supported by well-formulated action targets and fit-for-purpose indicators, will provide the best foundation for reversing biodiversity loss, ensuring a nature-positive future, and sustaining human well-being.

“Sustaining ecosystems is now seen as central to meeting goals not just for ecosystem themselves, but for species, and the benefits nature provides to people,” lead author Professor Nicholson from Deakin University said.

Dr. Hedley Grantham, WCS Director of Conservation Planning, and a co-author of the study says: “For a long-time conservation has been focused on avoiding the loss of important ecosystems (e.g. deforestation), but we are increasingly recognizing that it is not just the area of an ecosystem that matters but also its integrity or quality. It is very encouraging to see ecosystem integrity now central to the new biodiversity framework”.

“The draft framework seeks to reverse loss in ecosystem area and integrity, but this is not enough. The goal must also ensure that the collapse of ecosystems is prevented, just as a species goal must prevent extinctions.” Noted Professor Nicholson.

Said Dr. Susan Lieberman, Vice President for International Policy at WCS: “The study is timely given the upcoming meeting of the CBD Open-ended Working Group where governments will be negotiating the Goals and Targets of the draft framework.  Governments must adopt an enhanced focus on protecting and retaining ecosystem integrity if we are to combat the biodiversity and climate crises, and to prevent future pandemics.”


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