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Over half of species under threat need targeted recovery action

As governments worldwide negotiate a new Global Biodiversity Framework to ‘save nature’, a new study shows 57% of at risk species will not bounce back without help.

Newcastle University has taken a leading role in a new study looking at the ability of species considered ‘under threat’ to recover without human intervention. It was found that more than half of life forms that fall into this category will be unable to recover independently. 

Overall, researchers claim that targets to expand protected areas or reduce pollution will benefit many species, but 57% of vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants deemed to be at risk will still require recovery action specific to their needs for numbers to recover. This assessment is based on the first draft of the forthcoming UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to ratify international targets on safeguarding areas of nature.

Targeted steps that could make a difference include captive breeding in zoos and other facilities, reintroduction to the wild, moving individuals and small percentages of populations to new locations, and improving the coverage of vaccinations against diseases. In total, 7,784 individual species are now classed as either ‘Vulnerable’, ‘Endangered’, or ‘Critically Endangered’, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

‘57% of the world’s threatened species will remain threatened without targeted recovery actions. Many will benefit from policies and actions designed to reduce threats from land- and sea-use change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate, but these alone will not remove the risk of extinction that these species face,’ said Philip McGowan, Professor of Conservation Science and Policy at Newcastle University’s School of Nature and Environmental Sciences. ‘Now, we can identify the species that need such action, and we can monitor what is being done and what the impact of action is on those threatened species’

Last month, researchers published an analysis suggesting 44% of the Earth’s landmass would need to be protected from development in order to safeguard biodiversity levels.

Image credit: Jeyaratnam Caniceus

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