Are We Losing Ground?

New research signals a global disparity between the habitats we are protecting and those that we are losing. A game plan that concentrates on species loss won’t solve the problem.

by Jonathan M. Hoekstra, Timothy M. Boucher, Taylor H. Ricketts, and Carter Roberts

Losing Ground ChartA Are We Losing Ground?

Click charts and graphs above to see an enlargement

If we set conservation priorities based on species loss, tropical rainforests command the most attention. If however, we look at rates of land conservation (e.g., to agriculture and cities), a very different picture emerges. The ratio of habitat converted to habitat protected in temperate grasslands and Mediterranean forests is four to five times that of tropical rainforests. This should give us pause. Do we now face a biome crisis? The numbers are revealing: habitat protection has been most concentrated in biomes with lower levels of habitat conversion. Little habitat has been protected in biomes in which 30-50 percent of habitat has already been lost.

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