CDU research informs global conservation effort  

[by Leanne Miles]


Dr Kerstin Zander has contributed to a global report. Image: supplied

Charles Darwin University researchers have contributed to an international call for 30% of the planet to be protected to address the alarming collapse of the natural world.

Professor Stephen Garnett and Associate Professor Kerstin Zander have lent their voices and research to a huge collective effort to inform the most comprehensive report to date on the economic implications of protecting nature.

The report, which brought together more than 100 economists and scientists, found that the global economy would benefit from the establishment of far more protected areas on land and at sea than exist today.

The study considered various scenarios for protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean to find that the benefits outweighed the costs by a ratio of at least 5-to-1. It offers new evidence that the nature conservation sector drives economic growth, delivers key non-monetary benefits and is a net contributor to a resilient global economy.


The findings follow growing scientific evidence that at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean must be protected to address the alarming collapse of the natural world, which now threatens up to one million species with extinction.

Professor Garnett and Dr Zander contributed to the first-of-its-kind study through research that assembled the first global map of Indigenous lands.

Published in 2018, this study found that Indigenous Peoples have ownership, use and management rights over at least one-quarter of the world’s land surface.

“The research gave us an understanding of the extent of lands over which Indigenous Peoples retain traditional connection is critical for several conservation and climate agreements,” Professor Garnett said.

The 38 million square kilometres (14.6 million square miles) are spread across 87 countries or politically distinct areas and overlap with about 40% of all terrestrial protected areas.

The results of the study provided strong evidence that recognising the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their traditional lands and waters was not only an ethical obligation, but it was also essential to meeting local and global conservation goals.

Professor Garnett said their research contribution would help ensure that the study acknowledged and accommodated the interests of Indigenous Peoples when the value of an expanded conservation estate was calculated.

“Protecting 30% of the planet for nature: costs, benefits and economic implications”? is the first analysis of protected area impacts across multiple economic sectors, including agriculture, fisheries, and forestry in addition to the nature conservation sector.

It measures the financial impacts of protected areas on the global economy and non-monetary benefits such as ecosystem services, including climate change mitigation, flood protection, clean water provision and soil conservation. Across all measures, the experts found that the benefits were greater when more nature was protected as opposed to maintaining the status quo.


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