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Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets


Butchart, SHM and Scharlemann, JPW and Evans, MI and Quader, S and Arico, S and Arinaitwe, J and Balman, M and Bennun, LA and Bertzky, B and Besancon, C and Boucher, TM and Brooks, TM and Burfield, IJ and Burgess, ND and Chan, S and Clay, RP and Crosby, MJ and Davidson, NC and de Silva, N and Devenish, C and Dutson, GCL and Fernandez, DFD and Fishpool, LDC and Fitzgerald, C and Foster, M and Heath, MF and Hockings, M and Hoffmann, M and Knox, D and Larsen, FW and Lamoreux, JF and Loucks, C and May, I and Millett, J and Molloy, D and Morling, P and Parr, M and Ricketts, TH and Seddon, N and Skolnik, B and Stuart, SN and Upgren, A and Woodley, S, Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets, PLoS ONE, 7, (3) Article e32529. ISSN 1932-6203 (2012) [Refereed Article]


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Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032529


Protected areas (PAs) are a cornerstone of conservation efforts and now cover nearly 13% of the world's land surface, with the world's governments committed to expand this to 17%. However, as biodiversity continues to decline, the effectiveness of PAs in reducing the extinction risk of species remains largely untested. We analyzed PA coverage and trends in species' extinction risk at globally significant sites for conserving birds (10,993 Important Bird Areas, IBAs) and highly threatened vertebrates and conifers (588 Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, AZEs) (referred to collectively hereafter as 'important sites'). Species occurring in important sites with greater PA coverage experienced smaller increases in extinction risk over recent decades: the increase was half as large for bird species with >50% of the IBAs at which they occur completely covered by PAs, and a third lower for birds, mammals and amphibians restricted to protected AZEs (compared with unprotected or partially protected sites). Globally, half of the important sites for biodiversity conservation remain unprotected (49% of IBAs, 51% of AZEs). While PA coverage of important sites has increased over time, the proportion of PA area covering important sites, as opposed to less important land, has declined (by 0.45-1.14% annually since 1950 for IBAs and 0.79-1.49% annually for AZEs). Thus, while appropriately located PAs may slow the rate at which species are driven towards extinction, recent PA network expansion has under-represented important sites. We conclude that better targeted expansion of PA networks would help to improve biodiversity trends.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Environmental management not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Brooks, TM (Dr Thomas Brooks)
ID Code:83479
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:111
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2013-03-14
Last Modified:2017-10-06
Downloads:315 View Download Statistics

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