Ongoing Global Biodiversity Loss Unstoppable With Protected Areas Alone:

“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.”

On July 28th, 2011 the United Nations University publicly released a study done on global biodiversity. The study is based on existing literature and global data on human threats and biodiversity loss. The claim is biodiversity loss is underestimated and addressing the problem with protected areas has been grossly overestimated. Lead author, Camilo Mora, of University of Hawaii stated, “There is an increasingly well documented global trend in biodiversity loss, triggered by a host of human activities." Explained in the study is how the expectation of growth in the human population and the increase in our consumption levels points towards an unsustainable toll on the Earth’s ecological resources and services which accelerates the rate at which biodiversity is being lost. Based on previous research, it was alarming to find out that under the global existing conditions of human consumption and our old school situation of human population growth, the cumulative and increasing use of natural resources of humanity will amount to the productivity of up to 27 Earths by 2050. 

There are five key technical and practical limitations this study states if we continue with heavy reliance on the protected areas strategy to curb biodiversity loss:

• Expected growth in protected area coverage is too slow
• The size and connectivity of protected areas are inadequate
• Protected areas only ameliorate certain human threats
• Underfunding
• Conflicts with human development

The authors underline the correlations between growing world population, natural resources consumption and biodiversity loss triggered by many human stressors. Protecting areas is mainly useful against overexploitation and habitat loss and isn’t addressing other human stressors like climate change, pollution, and invasive species.


Taking a new path….
According to Peter F. Sale, fellow author and Assistant Director of the United Nations University's Canadian Institute for Water, Environment and Health, “It is important to address the growth in size and consumption rate of our global population.” Both Mora and Sale agree the importance of recognizing our limitations and the heavy reliance we have on protected areas needs to change immediately. Furthermore, they say we need to allocate more time and effort to the difficult issue of human overpopulation and consumption.

"One of the most important things you can do is to keep learning more about our world, its wildlife and the problems it faces."
 For further information on this topic and learn more about this study go to:

Blog Author: Carol Staats