Continued reliance on a strategy of setting aside land and marine territories as "protected areas" is insufficient to stem global biodiversity loss, according to a comprehensive assessment published today in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Despite impressively rapid growth of protected land and marine areas worldwide - today totalling over 100,000 in number and covering 17 million square kilometers of land and 2 million square kilometers of oceans - biodiversity is in steep decline.
Expected scenarios of human population growth and consumption levels indicate that cumulative human demands will impose an unsustainable toll on the Earth's ecological resources and services accelerating the rate at which biodiversity is being loss.
Current and future human requirements will also exacerbate the challenge of effectively implementing protected areas while suggesting that effective biodiversity conservation requires new approaches that address underlying causes of biodiversity loss - including the growth of both human population and resource consumption.
Says lead author Camilo Mora of University of Hawaii at Manoa: "Biodiversity is humanity's life-support system, delivering everything from food, to clean water and air, to recreation and tourism, to novel chemicals that drive our advanced civilization. Yet there is an increasingly well-documented global trend in biodiversity loss, triggered by a host of human activities."
"Ongoing biodiversity loss and its consequences for humanity's welfare are of great concern and have prompted strong calls for expanding the use of protected areas as a remedy," says fellow author Peter F. Sale, Assistant Director of the United Nations University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health.
"While many protected areas have helped preserve some species at local scales, promotion of this strategy as a global solution to biodiversity loss, and the
|Contact: Terry Collins|
United Nations University