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Mapping the planet’s critical areas for biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people

Meeting global commitments to conservation, climate, and sustainable development requires consideration of synergies and tradeoffs among targets. We evaluate the spatial congruence of ecosystems providing globally high levels of nature’s contributions to people, biodiversity, and areas with high development potential across several sectors.

The Marine Spatial Planning Index: a tool to guide and assess marine spatial planning

Marine spatial planning (MSP) has the potential to balance demands for ocean space with environmental protection and is increasingly considered crucial for achieving global ocean goals. In theory, MSP should adhere to six principles, being: (1) ecosystem-based, (2) integrated, (3) place-based, (4) adaptive, (5) strategic, and (6) participatory. Despite nearly two decades of practice, MSP continues to face critical challenges to fully realize these principles, hindering its ability to deliver positive outcomes for people and nature.

Quantifying longline bycatch mortality for pelagic sharks in western Pacific shark sanctuaries

Marine protected areas are increasingly touted for their role in conserving large marine predators such as sharks, but their efficacy is debated. Seventeen “shark sanctuaries” have been established globally, but longline fishing continues within many such jurisdictions, leading to unknown levels of bycatch mortality levels. Using public data from Global Fishing Watch and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, we quantified longline fishing within eight shark sanctuaries and estimated pelagic shark catch and mortality for seven pelagic shark species.

Participatory monitoring drives biodiversity knowledge in global protected areas

Protected areas are central in strategies to conserve biodiversity. Effective area-based conservation relies on biodiversity data, but the current biodiversity knowledge base is insufficient and limited by geographic and taxonomic biases. Public participation in biodiversity monitoring such as via community-based monitoring or citizen science increases data collection but also contributes to replicating these biases or introducing new ones.

Gaps and weaknesses in the global protected area network for safeguarding at-risk species

Protected areas are essential to biodiversity conservation. Creating new parks can protect larger populations and more species, yet strengthening existing parks, particularly those vulnerable to harmful human activities, is a critical but underappreciated step for safeguarding at-risk species. Here, we model the area of habitat that terrestrial mammals, amphibians, and birds have within park networks and their vulnerability to current downgrading, downsizing, or de-gazettement events and future land-use change.

National-level evaluation of a community-based marine management initiative

Community-based approaches to conservation and natural resource management are considered essential to meeting global conservation targets. Despite widespread adoption, there is little understanding about successful and unsuccessful community-based practices because of the challenges of designing robust evaluations to estimate impacts and analyse the underlying mechanisms to impact. Here we present findings from a national scale evaluation of the ‘locally managed marine areas’ network in Fiji, a marine community-based management initiative.

FINAL REPORT - Seabird Survey of Aleipata Offshore Islands, Samoa. 24-26 October 2022

The Aleipata group of offshore islands have been identified as one of eight Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Samoa. They are located at the south-eastern end of Upolu Island at 14o3’447.28”S, 171o25’23.84”W (Nu’utele) and 14o4’22.11”S and 171o24’36.17”W (Nu’ulua) offshore. This project updates population estimates and establish baseline data and information on breeding seabirds of the Aleipata offshore islands and investigate the feasibility of future tracking studies of some species.

Lessons from Palau to end parachute science in international conservation research

Conservation science is having a reckoning with “parachute science”. In the parachute science model, scientists drop into a foreign country with preconceived notions, seeking to validate their assumptions without genuine engagement with local people, ideas, epistemologies, methodologies, and knowledges, and leave without giving back to the place from which they extracted. This model lacks integrity and produces dubious results with little value to local populations and can even undermine local efforts.

Tropical deforestation causes large reductions in observed precipitation

Tropical forests play a critical role in the hydrological cycle and can influence local and regional precipitation. Previous work has assessed the impacts of tropical deforestation on precipitation, but these efforts have been largely limited to case studies. A wider analysis of interactions between deforestation and precipitation— and especially how any such interactions might vary across spatial scales—is lacking. Here we show reduced precipitation over deforested regions across the tropics.

Seagrass meadows are important sources of reef island-building sediment

The future vulnerability of low-lying atoll nations is inextricably linked to the production of carbonate sediments by organisms living in their adjacent marine environments. Seagrass meadows are commonly found adjacent to reef islands, but their role as sources of reef island-building sediments has been overlooked. Here, we combine field, satellite and sedimentological data to quantify rates of sediment production by seagrass epibionts in a reef island sediment supply context.