Priorities for protected area expansion so nations can meet their Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework commitments

As part of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (K-M GBF), signatory nations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aim to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 (Target 3). This bold ambition has been widely celebrated and its implementation seen as pivotal for the overall success of K-M GBF. However, given that many CBD signatory nations prioritised quantity (e.g., area) over quality (e.g., important areas for biodiversity) when attempting to meet their 2010 CBD Aichi protected area commitments, it is critical that nations focus on protecting those terrestrial, inland waters and marine areas that have the best chance of halting and reversing biodiversity loss and thus contribute to Goal A of the K-M GBF. Here the authors provide a review on the type of areas that nations need to prioritise when implementing Target 3 that relates to area ‘quality’: areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems. They show that data is available for 12 distinct biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service elements that can be mapped and, if conserved, will (with appropriate management) help meet the broad intention of Target 3. They highlight examples of the planning methods available that can be utilized so these areas can be targeted for protection. They discuss issues related to trade-offs regarding how to prioritise amongst them as well as to operationalise some of the vaguer concepts like ‘representation’ and ‘ecosystem functions and services’ so that they achieve the best outcomes for biodiversity.

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