Threatened species require targeted recovery actions

57% of threatened species in immediate need to recovery actions

A new study has shown that over half of threatened species are in need for immediate and targeted recovery actions by authorities around the world. Some of the actions that could be implemented and would have a positive outcome for these threatened species include captive breeding in zoos, reintroduction into the wild, moving individuals between locations, vaccination against disease, and other species-specific interventions.

Looking at the Global Biodiversity Framework, which is due to be adopted at the end of 2022, scientists checked whether targets to expand protected areas or reduce pollution will benefit species or not and what could be done to improve the population of the threatened species. Researchers found that while adoption of the Framework will help, there is still a majority of threatened species that will see more benefit from targeted recovery actions.

In fact researchers are of the opinion that even with the Framework in place, over half of the world’s threatened species will remain threatened if targeted recovery actions are not taken. Many will benefit from policies and actions designed to reduce threats from land- and sea-use change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate, but these alone will not remove the risk of extinction that these species face.

The research was based on 7,784 species listed as ‘Vulnerable’, ’Endangered’, and ‘Critically Endangered’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The team considered the targets in the first draft of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Framework.

The scientists assessed the potential benefits to each threatened species of implementing each target. They found that Target 1 (on implementing spatial planning to retain existing intact ecosystems), Target 2 (on restoring degraded ecosystems and ensure connectivity among them), and Target 3 (on protecting important areas for biodiversity) will be particularly important, as 95% of threatened species would benefit from their implementation.

The data also show, however, that these actions, and those for targets 5-8 on reducing pressures from unsustainable use, invasive species, pollution and climate change would still leave at least 57% of threatened species (4,428 species) at risk of going extinct. For example, the Black Stilt, a threatened waterbird from New Zealand, requires captive-rearing and release and control of hybrids with Black-winged Stilts to prevent genetic swamping, in addition to predator control and habitat management.

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