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Benefits of conservation efforts may not yet be fully visible


The time it takes for species to respond to conservation measures – known as an ‘ecological time lag’ – could be partly masking any real progress that is being made, experts have warned.

Global conservation targets to reverse declines in biodiversity and halt species extinctions are not being met, despite decades of conservation action.

Last year, a UN report on global biodiversity warned one million species are at risk of extinction within decades, putting the world’s natural life-support systems in jeopardy.

The report also revealed we were on track to miss almost all the 2020 nature targets that had been agreed a decade earlier by the global Convention on Biological Diversity.

But work published today in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution offers new hope that in some cases, conservation measures may not necessarily be failing, it is just too early to see the progress that is being made. MORE

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  • It’s also likely that many of our conservation efforts are based on incorrect assumptions about the species concerned. In many cases, species losing habitats will retreat to suboptimal habitats to survive, but not thrive, and the ‘shifting baseline’ means that we may then associate those species with those suboptimal habitats, rather than their preferred habitats, and therefore aim our efforts at the wrong target. For too many decades we’ve been ‘scrub bashing’ and it’s now clear this is one of our most valuable habitat types. The loss of all ‘edge’ habitats is a major cause of biodiversity and species loss and must be reversed if we’re to recover our declining and lost species.

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