Most Asian countries lag far behind biodiversity targets for protected areas, according to a study of 40 countries

Communication Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04061-w” width=”800″ height=”530″/>

Percentage of Asian countries and protected areas (PA) in 2020. The full and abbreviated names of all Asian countries analyzed in this study are shown. The map is projected using the WGS 84 EPSG:4326 coordinate reference system. Credit: Communication Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04061-w

Protected areas are one of the most effective tools for conserving biodiversity, but new research published today has found that most Asian countries fail to meet the global minimum target of conserving at least 17% of land by 2020. The Global Biodiversity Framework’s goal of conserving at least 30% of land by 2030 is bleak, and Asia will miss it by an even larger margin.

Asia is one of the richest places in the world in terms of biodiversity and is home to many of the world’s most charismatic animals, including the giant panda, snow leopard and Asian elephant. However, in many areas, these species are threatened by some of the world’s highest rates of habitat loss due to rapid population growth.

To counter the global biodiversity crisis, in the 2010 UN Convention on Biological Diversity, nearly 200 countries pledged to protect at least 17% of their terrestrial environments by 2020 (known as Aichi Goal 11). To see if they were able to achieve this, researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge analyzed data from official reports submitted to the World Database of Protected Areas with their Asian collaborators. Results based on data from 40 different countries, Communication Biology.

Key findings:

  • Only 40% of Asian countries have achieved the minimum 17% coverage target for protected areas by 2020. Few countries, especially in Western and Central Asia, achieved the target.
  • Overall, Asia was the lowest performing continent, with only 13.2% of the land designated as terrestrial protected area in 2020 (compared to the global average of 15.2%).
  • Only 40% (16) of Asian countries, especially East and South Asia, have achieved the protection target of 17% by 2020. However, 14 out of 19 Western and Central Asian countries failed to meet the target.
  • Asian countries also showed a slower increase in the amount of land protected for conservation, with an annual average of only 0.4%. Between 2010 and 2020, some countries showed no change or even minor decreases in protected area coverage.
  • Countries with a higher percentage of farmland in 2015 had a lower protected area coverage in 2020. This could mean that rapidly expanding agriculture could hinder the creation of new protected areas.
  • Only 7% of protected areas in Asia had any assessment for management effectiveness.
  • For the 241 high-risk mammal species in Asia, an average of 84% of their habitats remained outside protected areas.

Based on these results, the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework target to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 will be missed by an even larger margin.

The researchers calculated that nearly all Asian countries will not meet the 2030 target unless protected area creation rates increase by up to six times faster. Based on the current trajectory, Asia as a whole could achieve only 18% coverage by 2030, well below the 30% protection target. The outlook was worst for West and South Asia, which are projected to reach 11% and 10% coverage respectively by 2030.

Professor of Biology at the University of Oxford and the Oxford Martin School, lead author Dr. Mohammed Farhadinia said, “Asia is a challenging continent to set targets for protected areas, because areas with high biodiversity typically clash with dense human populations and rapid economic growth. While this research shows that more investment is needed in protected areas in Asia, the same It also demonstrates the importance of setting realistic, achievable goals that take socio-geographical constraints into account.”

The findings are of significant importance ahead of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15), when the governing body of the Convention on Biological Diversity will meet in Montreal, Canada (7-19 December 2022). At this meeting, government representatives will review the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Goals and discuss strategies for achieving the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework goals.

The authors make three recommendations to support Asian countries as they seek to meet their 2030 biodiversity targets, which they hope will influence decision-makers ahead of COP 15:

  • Documenting and reporting on other effective area-based conservation measures managed by local communities conserving biodiversity. These may include specially protected areas or farmland of high value to nature.
  • Restore degraded landscapes, such as abandoned farmland and felled rainforest.
  • Strengthening protected areas that cross international borders. Many rare species are found across borders (such as the snow leopard, whose habitat spans twelve countries), but increasing border barriers threaten their movement.

Despite the bleak outlook, the study identified some success stories among Asian countries. Nepal, for example, increased the coverage of protected areas by almost 40% between 2010 and 2020, and they now cover around 24% of the country.

“The political will to conserve the country’s biodiversity, positive environmental policies, and the government’s international commitment under the Aichi goals have made this significant achievement possible,” says Gopal Khanal, a conservation officer at Nepal’s Ministry of Forestry and Environment, and a partner. author of this study.

India-based co-author of the study, Dr. Aishwarya Maheshwari said, “Asia is a highly complex region with great variability in human population densities, biodiversity richness and geopolitics.” We need planning.”

More information:
Mohammad S. Farhadinia et al, Current trends indicate that most Asian countries are unlikely to meet future biodiversity targets in protected areas. Communication Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04061-w

Provided by the University of Oxford

Quotation: Most Asian countries are far behind biodiversity targets for protected areas, survey of 40 countries (2022, 29 November) retrieved 29 November 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-asian-countries-biodiversity-areas finds. .html

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