In April, the science journal Nature
published the results of a CI-led global gap analysis that found at least 300 species
that are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List and that have no legal protection in any part of their ranges. The study builds on the work of thousands of scientists and dozens of institutions around the world.
Researchers identified more than 1,400 so-called gap species—birds, mammals, turtles
, and amphibians—whose ranges did not overlap any protected area. Of these, at least 700 species were threatened to some degree. They included rarities like the Comoro black flying fox, found on the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, and the caerulean paradise-flycatcher, known only to exist on the Indonesian island of Sangihe.
Lead author Ana Rodrigues and her colleagues argue that the findings underscore the need to rethink prevailing conservation planning. The current strategy, forged at the World Parks Congress in 1992, calls for the protection of 10 percent of every major biome—such as deserts or grasslands—on the planet. While more than 11 percent of the world is under some form of protection, the study shows that the task of adequately safeguarding all biodiversity remains far from complete.
“Protecting more than 10 percent of the planet’s land surface is a major conservation achievement,” says Gustavo Fonseca, CI’s executive vice president for programs and science. “But this study proves that no matter how appealing arbitrary percentage targets might be from a political standpoint, we should focus specifically on those places with the greatest concentrations of threatened and endemic species.”
Editor’s Note: The
Nature article generated considerable interest in major media across the United States and Europe. Stories on the gap study were published in the
Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Seattle Times, New York Post, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and
Times of London. National Public Radio also covered the story