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Scientists urge world leaders to scale up ambitions to protect global biodiversity

28 / 09 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

Research has shown that a sixth mass extinction event is underway and largely driven by human activities. With the global population set to balloon to 10 billion people by 2050, which will more than double the current demand for food and water, scientists are increasingly calling for mankind to set aside sufficient amounts of ecosystems on land and at sea to ensure the survival of the many species with which we share planet Earth. Yet, according to Jonathan Baillie, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist of the National Geographic Society, and Ya-Ping Zhang, Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Current levels of protection do not even come close to the required levels.” Baillie and Zhang note in an editorial published in the latest edition of Science that less than half of the ecosystems on Earth’s surface remain relatively intact (and that these areas tend to be less productive lands), while just 3.6 percent of Earth’s oceans and 14.7 percent of land area has been accorded some sort of protected status. “Most scientific estimates of the amount of space needed to safeguard biodiversity and preserve ecosystem benefits suggest that 25 to 75% of regions or major ecosystems must be protected,” they write. The fact that there is such a wide range to scientists’ recommendations — from 25 to 75 percent — demonstrates just how much uncertainty there is around how much of Earth we should protect. It’s difficult to determine exactly how much space we’d need to set aside…

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