Protecting just 1.2% of Earth’s land could save most-threatened species

Study identifies 16,825 sites around the world where prioritising conservation would prevent extinction of thousands of unique species

Protecting just 1.2% of the Earth’s surface for nature would be enough to prevent the extinction of the world’s most threatened species, according to a new study.

Analysis published in the journal Frontiers in Science has found that the targeted expansion of protected areas on land would be enough to prevent the loss of thousands of the mammals, birds, amphibians and plants that are closest to disappearing.

From Argentina to Papua New Guinea, the team of researchers identified 16,825 sites that should be prioritised for conservation in the next five years to prevent imminent extinctions of animals and plants found nowhere else.

Dr Eric Dinerstein, of the environmental organisation Resolve and lead author of the study, said the team were trying to identify the world’s rarest species with limited habitats, using the example of the peyote cactus, whose remaining range may be limited to small parts of the Chihuahuan desert in North America.

“Most species on Earth are rare, meaning that species either have very narrow ranges or they occur at very low densities or both,”

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