The establishment of protected areas to safeguard key biodiversity areas has been long considered the most effective means to protect threatened species. The study reinforces this assumption, showing that the protection of key sites must remain the foundation for all conservation efforts. However, it also showed that considerably more threatened species need urgent conservation action at the landscape or seascape level than previously believed. Fully one in five threatened vertebrates require urgent conservation action at the landscape or seascape scale, including such flagship species as the Tiger (Panthera tigris) and the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi).
The study also covered marine mammals, seabirds and sea turtles, and showed that 74 percent of these require urgent seascape level action. These include species like the Galápagos Fur Seal (Arctocephalus galapagoensis) and the Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata), from the Eastern Tropical Pacific. "While the need for seascape conservation is overwhelming for these species," cautioned Charlotte Boyd, the study's lead author and now a marine ecologist at the University of Washington, "we urgently need equivalent assessments for fish to obtain a more comprehensive picture of what conservation actions are needed where in marine systems."
Overall, the study provides strong new evidence supporting the integration of multiple scales of conservation, including protected areas as well as landscape and seascape level conservation strategies.
"Our key conclusion is that both site-scale and broad-scale conservation are essential to prevent mass extinction," said Thomas Brooks, from the CI Center for Applied Biodiversity Science. "We recognize that site protection is the cornerstone for almost all threatened species. We are now also certain that a substantial proportion and unexpected diversity of threatened species
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