WWF Peer Reviewed Publications

Recent Publications


The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2022 that formally recognizes that there is a universal human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Yet there is evidence that human rights impacts associated with the degradation of the ocean environment are accelerating. In this perspective, we highlight how the recognition of the human right to a healthy environment can catalyze ocean action and transform ocean governance. In particular, it can do so through 1) catalyzing marine protection and increasing accountability through clarifying state obligations, 2) improving the inclusiveness of ocean governance, including through prioritizing and empowering groups in situations of vulnerability, and 3) enhancing ocean economy practices through clarifying private sector responsibilities. To those ends, there is an urgent need to move from recognition to implementation in order to protect both current and future generations’ right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable ocean.

The conservation community needs to improve the quality and quantity of evidence to address urgent and complex environmental challenges. The growth of Upstream Conservation Initiatives (UCIs) such as those designed to eliminate deforestation by shifting consumer or corporate behavior, exemplify the tension between the urgency to act and the need to build evidence to enable progressive improvements in implementation. These initiatives—often led by non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—are rarely evaluated rigorously in terms of their causal effect on intended outcomes, contributing to the evidence deficit. Impact evaluations have been useful tools to analyze effectiveness and build evidence in other fields. However, they are seldom used in the conservation field broadly or in UCIs specifically. To help practitioners involved in UCIs make better use of these tools, we introduce the field of impact evaluation, its core concepts, and how it contrasts with and complements traditional performance measurement approaches. Using these concepts, we propose a guidance process which can be used by practitioners at the project design phase to weigh tradeoffs and consider the most appropriate impact evaluation methodologies. We then use this guidance process to analyze two UCIs implemented by an NGO in Indonesia. Through these case studies we show how impact evaluation concepts could have been employed in project design to improve implementation and promote progressive learning, even if actual impact evaluations were infeasible. We conclude by proposing recommendations on how implementers, donors, and academia can build off these ideas to improve learning and strengthen the evidence base.

Wildlife must adapt to human presence to survive in the Anthropocene, so it is critical to understand species responses to humans in different contexts. We used camera trapping as a lens to view mammal responses to changes in human activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Across 163 species sampled in 102 projects around the world, changes in the amount and timing of animal activity varied widely. Under higher human activity, mammals were less active in undeveloped areas but unexpectedly more active in developed areas while exhibiting greater nocturnality. Carnivores were most sensitive, showing the strongest decreases in activity and greatest increases in nocturnality. Wildlife managers must consider how habituation and uneven sensitivity across species may cause fundamental differences in human–wildlife interactions along gradients of human influence.

Countries are expanding marine protected area (MPA) networks to mitigate fisheries declines and support marine biodiversity. However, MPA impact evaluations typically assess total fish biomass. Here, we examine how fish biomass disaggregated by adult and juvenile life stages responds to environmental drivers, including sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies and human footprint, and multiple management types at 139 reef sites in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) region. We found that total fish biomass generally appears stable across the region from 2006 to 2018, with limited rebuilding of fish stocks in MPAs. However, the metric of total fish biomass masked changes in fish community structure, with lower adult than juvenile fish biomass at northern sites, and adult:juvenile ratios closer to 1:1 at southern sites. These shifts were associated with different responses of juvenile and adult fish to environmental drivers and management. Juvenile fish biomass increased at sites with high larval connectivity and coral cover, whereas adult fish biomass decreased at sites with greater human footprint and SST anomalies. Adult fish biomass decreased primarily in Honduran general use zones, which suggests insufficient protection for adult fish in the southern MAR. There was a north–south gradient in management and environmental drivers, with lower coverage of fully protected areas and higher SST anomalies and coastal development in the south that together may undermine the maintenance of adult fish biomass in the southern MAR. Accounting for the interplay between environmental drivers and management in the design of MPAs is critical for increasing fish biomass across life history stages.

The commitment to protect 30% of the Earth by 2030 will create an unprecedented expansion of area-based conservation through both protected and conserved areas. Yet, there is still significant uncertainty about how to achieve this goal, including how to integrate conserved areas into the area-based conservation paradigm. To maximize the benefits to biodiversity, it is essential that we have tools to track how protected and conserved areas are implemented over time. Here, we present a conceptual framework for describing and monitoring changes to protected and conserved areas, demonstrating its use by documenting examples of changes to formally recognized conserved areas and hundreds of examples of protected areas being converted to conserved areas (42% of all conserved areas). We reveal how changes to protected and conserved Areas may interact to affect area-based conservation and provide a system for classifying and monitoring such changes. This transparency and accountability in monitoring and reporting on area-based conservation will be essential to inform our understanding of global conservation progress.

Global food loss and waste has not abated despite tremendous efforts to reduce it. Food wastage has profound consequences including our inability to combat hunger, contributions to unsustainable resource exploitation, and represents about half of the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire agrifood system. Mitigating the problems for a sustainable future requires managing food waste using the most appropriate approach. Upcycling food waste to animal feed is an essential strategy to capture the greatest value compared with other recycling options. The overall goal of this critical analysis is to provide evidence that upcycling of many food waste sources to animal feed can be successfully achieved in support of sustainable productivity. We describe multiple dimensions of reducing emissions and improving resource utilization efficiency, characterize the suitability of various food waste sources and limitations as animal feed, and describe the needs for de-risking strategies, overcoming legislative bottlenecks, and filling knowledge gaps to accelerate greater use of this high impact sustainability strategy.

Landscape ecologists have long suggested that pest abundances increase in simplified, monoculture landscapes. However, tests of this theory often fail to predict pest population sizes in real-world agricultural fields. These failures may arise not only from variation in pest ecology, but also from the widespread use of categorical land-use maps that do not adequately characterize habitat-availability for pests. We used 1163 field-year observations of Lygus hesperus (Western Tarnished Plant Bug) densities in California cotton fields to determine whether integrating remotely-sensed metrics of vegetation productivity and phenology into pest models could improve pest abundance analysis and prediction. Because L. hesperus often overwinters in non-crop vegetation, we predicted that pest abundances would peak on farms surrounded by more non-crop vegetation, especially when the non-crop vegetation is initially productive but then dries down early in the year, causing the pest to disperse into cotton fields. We found that the effect of non-crop habitat on pest densities varied across latitudes, with a positive relationship in the north and a negative one in the south. Aligning with our hypotheses, models predicted that L. hesperus densities were 35 times higher on farms surrounded by high versus low productivity non-crop vegetation (EVI area 350 vs. 50) and 2.8 times higher when dormancy occurred earlier versus later in the year (May 15 vs. June 30). Despite these strong and significant effects, we found that integrating these remote-sensing variables into land-use models only marginally improved pest density predictions in cotton compared to models with categorical land cover metrics alone. Together, our work suggests that the remote sensing variables analyzed here can advance our understanding of pest ecology, but not yet substantively increase the accuracy of pest abundance predictions.

Planning of marine areas has spread widely over the past two decades to support sustainable ocean management and governance. However, to succeed in a changing ocean, marine spatial planning (MSP) must be ‘climate-smart’— integrating climate-related knowledge, being flexible to changing conditions, and supporting climate actions. While the need for climate-smart MSP has been globally recognized, at a practical level, marine managers and planners require further guidance on how to put it into action. Here, we suggest ten key components that, if well-integrated, would promote the development and implementation of sustainable, equitable, climate-smart MSP initiatives around the globe.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely used for ocean conservation, yet the relative impacts of various types of MPAs are poorly understood. We estimated impacts on fish biomass from no-take and multiple-use (fished) MPAs, employing a rigorous matched counterfactual design with a global dataset of >14,000 surveys in and around 216 MPAs. Both no-take and multiple-use MPAs generated positive conservation outcomes relative to no protection (58.2% and 12.6% fish biomass increases, respectively), with smaller estimated differences between the two MPA types when controlling for additional confounding factors (8.3% increase). Relative performance depended on context and management: no-take MPAs performed better in areas of high human pressure but similar to multiple-use in remote locations. Multiple-use MPA performance was low in high-pressure areas but improved significantly with better management, producing similar outcomes to no-take MPAs when adequately staffed and appropriate use regulations were applied. For priority conservation areas where no-take restrictions are not possible or ethical, our findings show that a portfolio of well-designed and well-managed multiple-use MPAs represents a viable and potentially equitable pathway to advance local and global conservation.

Global ecosystems are interconnected via atmospheric water vapor flows. Land use change can modify evaporation from land, altering atmospheric moisture recycling and potentially leading to significant changes in downwind precipitation and associated ecological impacts. We combine insights on global ecosystem-regulated moisture recycling with an analysis of critical natural assets (CNA, the 30% of global land providing most of nature's contributions to people) to reveal the sources and sinks of atmospheric water cycle regulation. We find that 65% of the precipitation over CNA is supplied by evaporation from other land areas. Likewise, CNA regions supply critical moisture as precipitation to terrestrial natural ecosystems and production systems worldwide, with 44% of CNA evaporation falling on terrestrial surfaces. Specifically, the Congo River basin emerges as a hotspot of overlap between local atmospheric water cycle maintenance and concentration of nature's contributions to people. Our results suggest global priority areas for conservation efforts beyond and in support of CNA, emphasizing the importance of sparsely populated managed forests and rangelands, along with wild forests, for fostering moisture recycling to and within CNA. This work also underlines the manifold benefits associated with achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #15, to sustainably manage terrestrial life and conserve biodiversity.

  1. Voluntary land conservation, including privately protected areas (PPAs), is a key component of enabling the future of biodiversity on Earth. Accordingly, the question of motivations has preoccupied conservation social science. True motivations are difficult to ascertain, however, even for ourselves.
  2. Accordingly, we explore a novel narrative elicitation approach to ask: what features of the land and landowners' relationships with the land encourage and sustain their commitment to voluntary conservation? What value framings are conveyed by landowners when sharing their origin stories and the reasons for sustaining such efforts?
  3. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 32 landowners of PPAs across Peru. Interviews were designed to elicit landowners' origin stories and ongoing relationships with the land, as well as the values they hold about those relationships.
  4. This paper challenges the current perception that PPAs are driven by wealthy and foreign landowners in the Peruvian context. Instead, this paper showcases PPAs as the manifestation of local visions for conservation that align with the landowners' longstanding relationships with the land. Here we identified 15 different relational values that landowners have with nature, non-human and human beings that underlie their voluntary conservation efforts.
  5. The paper highlights the importance of taking a relational perspective (recognizing that our existence is enabled and shaped by the relationships we have with others and with nature) when studying land conservation, emphasizing how PPAs are the reflection of landowners' intention to maintain, protect and restore the multiple relationships embedded in the land they strive to conserve.

Monitoring the governance and management effectiveness of area-based conservation has long been recognized as an important foundation for achieving national and global biodiversity goals and enabling adaptive management. However, there are still many barriers that prevent conservation actors, including those affected by governance and management systems from implementing conservation activities and programs and from gathering and using data on governance and management to inform decision-making across spatial scales and through time. We explored current and past efforts to assess governance and management effectiveness and barriers actors face in using the resulting data and insights to inform conservation decision-making. To help overcome these barriers, we developed Elinor, a free and open-source monitoring tool that builds on the work of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom to facilitate the gathering, storing, sharing, analyzing, and use of data on environmental governance and management across spatial scales and for areas under different governance and management types. We consider the process of codesigning and piloting Elinor with conservation scientists and practitioners and the main components of the assessment and online data system. We also consider how Elinor complements existing approaches by addressing governance and management in a single assessment at a high level for different types of area-based conservation, providing flexible options for data collection, and integrating a data system with an assessment that can support data use and sharing across different spatial scales, including global monitoring of the Global Biodiversity Framework. Although challenges will continue, the process of developing Elinor and the tool itself offer tangible solutions to barriers that prevent the systematic collection and use of governance and management data. With broader uptake, Elinor can play a valuable role in enabling more effective, inclusive, and durable area-based conservation.

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. We find that conserving approximately half of global land area through protection or sustainable management could provide 90% of the current levels of ten of nature’s contributions to people and meet minimum representation targets for 26,709 terrestrial vertebrate species. This finding supports recent commitments by national governments under the Global Biodiversity Framework to conserve at least 30% of global lands and waters, and proposals to conserve half of the Earth. More than one-third of areas required for conserving nature’s contributions to people and species are also highly suitable for agriculture, renewable energy, oil and gas, mining, or urban expansion. This indicates potential conflicts among conservation, climate and development goals.

Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Third Edition, Seven Volume Set provides a coherent, synthetic and comprehensive overview of the field, bringing together contributions from over 400 expert academics and practitioners. The book brings together the dimensions of biodiversity and examines the services it provides and measures to protect it. Major themes include the evolution of biodiversity, systems for classifying and defining biodiversity, ecological patterns and theories of biodiversity, and an assessment of contemporary patterns and trends in biodiversity. The entire work is reviewed and updated, including new chapters on topics which have come to the forefront since the publication of the previous edition.

The science of biodiversity has become the science of our future. It is an interdisciplinary field spanning areas of both physical and life sciences. Our awareness of the loss of biodiversity has brought a long overdue appreciation of the magnitude of this loss and a determination to develop the tools to protect our future. One important feature of the new edition will be updated information on the growing biodiversity crisis.

Fuelwood, a forest resource, is used to satisfy local energy demands in many parts of the world. However, wood harvesting for subsistence or livelihood dependence is challenged by conservation narratives of forest degradation and loss in many parts of the Global South. Despite a vast network of protected areas that regulate access to resource extraction, forest dependence continues. Simultaneously, wood fuel continues to be used as a renewable source of energy in many developed countries. Energy transitions and the adoption of cleaner or low-carbon fuels are deeply socio-political and embedded in gender and social inequalities. Fuelwood dependence and adoption of alternate low-carbon technologies impact gender and social equity in intersectional ways. This study investigates the drivers of forest dependence on fuelwood and how that relates to broader narratives of forest degradation and conservation in Bhitarkanika National Park, a protected mangrove forest along the east coast of India. It utilizes the theory of access with surveys and focus groups to inquire about the socio-cultural beliefs and influences that shape reliance on firewood. Additionally, it also examines how access contributes to constraining or intensifying forest dependency, and how this dynamic interacts with intersectionality to uphold prevailing social conditions. The findings reveal a gendered differentiation in labor and values toward fuelwood collection and use. Women were found to be reluctant to change traditional ways of cooking and heating because of social responsibilities, structures, and preferences whereas men supported alternatives to fuelwood use, implying an invisible burden of conservation on women. Although forest dependence was largely for fuelwood, these dependencies stemmed from both social and cultural preferences, affirming the requirement for integrating cultural preferences and values that shape communities reliant on mangrove forests, to effectively devise practical conservation solutions involving alternative technologies or subsidized fuel options.

Forestation is widely proposed for carbon dioxide (CO2) removal, but its impact on climate through changes to atmospheric composition and surface albedo remains relatively unexplored. We assessed these responses using two Earth system models by comparing a scenario with extensive global forest expansion in suitable regions to other plausible futures. We found that forestation increased aerosol scattering and the greenhouse gases methane and ozone following increased biogenic organic emissions. Additionally, forestation decreased surface albedo, which yielded a positive radiative forcing (i.e., warming). This offset up to a third of the negative forcing from the additional CO2 removal under a 4°C warming scenario. However, when forestation was pursued alongside other strategies that achieve the 2°C Paris Agreement target, the offsetting positive forcing was smaller, highlighting the urgency for simultaneous emission reductions.


The impacts of climate change on species, and assessments of species vulnerability to climate change, have been well documented in the literature. However, translation of this research into on-the-ground interventions, for example by NGOs or protected area authorities, is lacking. Here we present a simple species climate vulnerability assessment tool, which assesses different dimensions of climate change vulnerability. The trait-based assessment leads to actionable climate-adaptive management recommendations. Additionally, we highlight projects funded by the Wildlife Adaptation Innovation Fund, which supports project ideas from around the world which reduce the vulnerability of wildlife to changes in weather and climate.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and the evidence base on observed impacts to date, and projected impacts, is growing. The impacts to island ecosystems and low-lying nations is particularly severe, including sea level rise, heavy precipitation events, and ocean warming, resulting in destruction of property, declining fish yields, and coral bleaching, among many other impacts. Decision support tools and other climate services are increasingly being used, but many gaps remain, and financing and implementation fall far short of what is needed. This chapter explores initiatives implemented by World Wildlife Fund to better understand how climate change is impacting people and wildlife, and how the research informs on-the-ground interventions which help people and wildlife adapt to a changing climate.

Reliable and comparable estimates of biodiversity are the foundation for understanding ecological systems and informing policy and decision-making, especially in an era of massive anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is at the forefront of technological advances in biodiversity monitoring, and the last few years have seen major progress and solutions to technical challenges from the laboratory to bioinformatics. Water eDNA has been shown to allow the fast and efficient recovery of biodiversity signals, but the rapid pace of technological development has meant that some important principles regarding sampling design, which are well established in traditional biodiversity inventories, have been neglected. Using a spatially explicit river flow model, we illustrate how sampling must be adjusted to the size of the watercourse to increase the quality of the biodiversity signal recovered. We additionally investigate the effect of sampling parameters (volume, number of sites, sequencing depth) on detection probability in an empirical data set. Based on traditional sampling principles, we propose that aquatic eDNA sampling replication and volume must be scaled to match the organisms' and ecosystems' properties to provide reliable biodiversity estimates. We present a generalizable conceptual equation describing sampling features as a function of the size of the ecosystem monitored, the abundance of target organisms, and the properties of the sequencing procedure. The aim of this formalization is to enhance the standardization of critical steps in the design of biodiversity inventory studies using eDNA. More robust sampling standards will generate more comparable biodiversity data from eDNA, which is necessary for the method's long-term plausibility and comparability.

Globally, marine protected area (MPA) objectives have increasingly shifted from a primary focus on maintaining ecosystems through prohibiting extractive activities, to more equitable approaches that address the needs of both people and nature. This has led to MPAs with a diverse array of fisheries restrictions and recent debate on the type of restrictions that contribute to achieving biodiversity goals. Here we use a global dataset of 172 MPAs (representing 31 nations) alongside nine detailed case study MPAs (from Australia, Belize, Cambodia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Indonesia, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, and United States of America), including partially protected areas that allow regulated fishing, to illustrate the many diverse pathways that some MPAs have adopted to protect biodiversity and safeguard the rights and well-being of resource-dependent coastal communities. We group MPAs based on their restrictions and explore four key insights emerging from these groupings using our nine case studies: (i) MPAs use highly diverse approaches to regulate fisheries; (ii) partially protected areas can address gaps in regional fisheries management; (iii) devolving resource management rights to communities influences the chosen fisheries restrictions; and (iv) state-governed MPAs can use highly tailored fisheries restrictions to increase equity in access. We find that partially protected MPAs can offer effective and equitable pathways for biodiversity conservation if tailored to local context. Rather than focusing primarily on fully protected areas for achieving new global MPA targets, we recommend countries use a blend of locally-appropriate protection levels – from fully protected areas to partially protected MPAs to achieve positive biodiversity outcomes.

Environmental flows (e-flows) aim to mitigate the threat of altered hydrological regimes in river systems and connected waterbodies and are an important component of integrated strategies to address multiple threats to freshwater biodiversity. Expanding and accelerating implementation of e-flows can support river conservation and help to restore the biodiversity and resilience of hydrologically altered and water-stressed rivers and connected freshwater ecosystems. While there have been significant developments in e-flow science, assessment, and societal acceptance, implementation of e-flows within water resource management has been slower than required and geographically uneven. This review explores critical factors that enable successful e-flow implementation and biodiversity outcomes in particular, drawing on 13 case studies and the literature. It presents e-flow implementation as an adaptive management cycle enabled by 10 factors: legislation and governance, financial and human resourcing, stakeholder engagement and co-production of knowledge, collaborative monitoring of ecological and social-economic outcomes, capacity training and research, exploration of trade-offs among water users, removing or retrofitting water infrastructure to facilitate e-flows and connectivity, and adaptation to climate change. Recognising that there may be barriers and limitations to the full and effective enablement of each factor, the authors have identified corresponding options and generalizable recommendations for actions to overcome prominent constraints, drawing on the case studies and wider literature. The urgency of addressing flow-related freshwater biodiversity loss demands collaborative networks to train and empower a new generation of e-flow practitioners equipped with the latest tools and insights to lead adaptive environmental water management globally. Mainstreaming e-flows within conservation planning, integrated water resource management, river restoration strategies, and adaptations to climate change is imperative. The policy drivers and associated funding commitments of the Kunming–Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework offer crucial opportunities to achieve the human benefits contributed by e-flows as nature-based solutions, such as flood risk management, floodplain fisheries restoration, and increased river resilience to climate change.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an important tool to protect marine biodiversity that can have substantial impacts on human well-being. However, such social impacts are rarely considered proactively. Proponents must work collectively and proactively to better understand and communicate future well-being impacts while co-creating lasting solutions prior to MPA development and iteratively during ongoing management.

Understanding the relative effectiveness and enabling conditions of different area-based management tools is essential for supporting efforts that achieve positive biodiversity outcomes as area-based conservation coverage increases to meet newly set international targets. We used data from a coastal social-ecological monitoring program in six Indo-Pacific countries to analyze whether social, ecological, and economic objectives and specific management rules (temporal closures, fishing gear-, species-specific restrictions) were associated with coral reef fish biomass above sustainable yield levels across different types of area-based management tools (i.e., comparing those designated as marine protected areas (MPAs) to other types of area-based management). We found that all categories of objectives, multiple combinations of rules, and all types of area-based management had some sites that were able to sustain high levels of reef fish biomass – a key measure for coral reef health – compared to reference sites with no area-based management. Yet the same management types also had sites with low biomass. As governments advance their commitments to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework and the target to conserve 30% of the planet's land and oceans by 2030, we show that while different types of management can be effective, most of the managed areas in our study regions did not meet IUCN criteria for effectiveness. These findings underscore the importance of strong management and governance of managed areas, and the need to measure the ecological impact of area-based management rather than counting areas because of their designation.

The term “blue justice” was coined in 2018 during the 3rd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress. Since then, academic engagement with the concept has grown rapidly. This article reviews 5 years of blue justice scholarship and synthesizes some of the key perspectives, developments, and gaps. We then connect this literature to wider relevant debates by reviewing two key areas of research – first on blue injustices and second on grassroots resistance to these injustices. Much of the early scholarship on blue justice focused on injustices experienced by small-scale fishers in the context of the blue economy. In contrast, more recent writing and the empirical cases reviewed here suggest that intersecting forms of oppression render certain coastal individuals and groups vulnerable to blue injustices. These developments signal an expansion of the blue justice literature to a broader set of affected groups and underlying causes of injustice. Our review also suggests that while grassroots resistance efforts led by coastal communities have successfully stopped unfair exposure to environmental harms, preserved their livelihoods and ways of life, defended their culture and customary rights, renegotiated power distributions, and proposed alternative futures, these efforts have been underemphasized in the blue justice scholarship, and from marine and coastal literature more broadly. We conclude with some suggestions for understanding and supporting blue justice now and into the future.

Jaguars (Panthera onca) exert critical top-down control over large vertebrates across the Neotropics. Yet, this iconic species have been declining due to multiple threats, such as habitat loss and hunting, which are rapidly increasing across the New World tropics. Based on geospatial layers, we extracted socio-environmental variables for 447 protected areas across the Brazilian Amazon to identify those that merit short-term high-priority efforts to maximize jaguar persistence. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and comparisons of measures of central tendency. Our results reveal that areas containing the largest jaguar densities and the largest estimated population sizes are precisely among those confronting most anthropogenic threats. Jaguars are threatened in the world’s largest tropical forest biome by deforestation associated with anthropogenic fires, and the subsequent establishment of pastures. By contrasting the highest threats with the highest jaguar population sizes in a bivariate plot, we provide a shortlist of the top-10 protected areas that should be prioritized for immediate jaguar conservation efforts and 74 for short-term action. Many of these are located at the deforestation frontier or in important boundaries with neighboring countries (e.g., Peruvian, Colombian and Venezuelan Amazon). The predicament of a safe future for jaguars can only be ensured if protected areas persist and resist downgrading and downsizing due to both external anthropogenic threats and geopolitical pressures (e.g., infrastructure development and frail law enforcement).

Spatial relationships between sympatric species underpin biotic interactions, structure ecological communities, and maintain ecosystem health. However, the resilience of interspecific spatial associations to human habitat modification remains largely unknown, particularly in tropical regions where anthropogenic impacts are often greatest. We applied multi-state multi-species occurrence models to camera trap data across nine tropical landscapes in Colombia to understand how prominent threats to forest ecosystems influence Neotropical carnivore occurrence and interspecific spatial associations, with implications for biotic interactions. We show that carnivore occurrence represents a delicate balance between local environmental conditions and interspecific interactions that can be compromised in areas of extensive habitat modification. The stability of carnivore spatial associations depends on forest cover to mediate antagonistic encounters with apex predators and structurally intact forests to facilitate coexistence between competing mesocarnivores. Notably, we demonstrate that jaguars play an irreplaceable role in spatially structuring mesocarnivore communities, providing novel evidence on their role as keystone species. With increasing global change, conserving both the extent and quality of tropical forests is imperative to support carnivores and preserve the spatial associations that underpin ecosystem stability and resilience.

Feed use in aquaculture results in large amounts of embodied land, freshwater, energy and wild fish use. Selection of feed ingredients at feed mills can reduce the amounts of one or more of the four major natural resources embodied in feed. However, better feed management to lessen FCR is more likely the key to lessening resource use at the farm level. Of course, lessening the FCR will reduce the amount of feed that must be purchased and diminish the direct and embodied negative environmental impacts associated with feed. It also is important to note that mechanical aeration applied in many methods of production requires more energy than associated with feed alone. Aeration is necessary for high feed inputs required in intensive production, and without aeration, most types of intensive production would not be possible. The amounts of resource use attributed to feeding and aeration were applied in estimating the resulting quantities of water pollutants in effluents and emission of atmospheric contaminants. Some of the misunderstandings about life cycle assessment (LCA) such as it usually covering all impacts of product systems, and especially its failure to assess the oxygen demand of effluents are mentioned.

As countries consider new area-based conservation targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, protected areas and their impacts on people and nature are coming under increasing scrutiny. We review the evidence base on protected area impacts, combining the findings from existing rigorous impact evaluations with local case studies developed for this study. We identify characteristics of protected areas establishment and management that improve the sustainability of biodiversity conservation and justice for local communities. We find that recognizing and respecting local values and knowledge about natural resource stewardship, co-learning and comanagement are key to achieving positive impacts for nature and people. Transforming protected areas governance towards more inclusive conservation depends upon their ability to be designed and implemented around the values and
needs of local people.

Nature-based interventions (NbIs) for climate change mitigation include a diverse set of interventions aimed at conserving, restoring, and/or managing natural and modified ecosystems to improve their ability to store and sequester carbon and avoid greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recent projections estimate that terrestrial NbIs can lead to more than one-third of the climate change mitigation necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030. Further, these interventions can provide co-benefits in the form of social and ecological outcomes. Despite growing recognition of the potential benefits, a clear characterization of the distribution and occurrence of evidence which supports linkages between different types of NbIs and outcomes for climate change mitigation, ecosystems, and people remains poorly understood.

Well-resourced marine protected areas (MPA) are better managed, leading to improved ecological outcomes. Tourism is often cited as an important source of financial support for MPA management, yet it is unclear whether funding from visitor entry fees improves the effectiveness of the world's MPAs. Here we ask whether fees to enter MPAs associate with enhanced fish biomass, a key ecological goal of many MPAs, and whether relations exist among entry fees and management effectiveness. In an analysis of 86 MPAs, we found entry fees were associated with greater fish biomass when compared to parks without entry fees, but only for parks with lower scores for management effectiveness. A global assessment of management survey responses from 214 MPAs suggested the hypothesis that MPA entry fees benefit budget security and staff capacity to carry out critical management activities. Together, the results suggest a mechanism whereby entry fees support greater capacity to educate parks users on rules and enforce those rules. Future work should look at the details of MPA budgets to unravel the relationship between funding, management activities and ecological outcomes. Dependency on tourism also comes with the important implication that declines in tourism caused by socio-economic shocks and geopolitical events may have affected the financial security and therefore possibly the ecological effectiveness of MPAs.

Increasing human pressures are driving a global loss of biodiversity and of Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP)—the contributions of living nature to people’s quality of life. Understanding the spatial relationship between biodiversity and NCP is essential for securing Earth’s life support systems. Here we estimate the importance of high-biodiversity regions in maintaining the provision of three NCP under four scenarios of climate change. We focus on critical regulatory NCP which are currently facing decline: regulation of air quality, climate and freshwater quantity. We estimate the current and future value of NCP using a suite of environmental indicators and evaluate whether risk from environmental change is higher or lower within high-biodiversity regions compared with control regions. We find higher levels of NCP within high-biodiversity regions both in the present and the future for all indicators, which highlights the spatial congruence between biodiversity and NCP. Moreover, air quality and climate regulation indicators show rapidly increasing levels within high-biodiversity regions, especially under higher-emission scenarios. Our results point to a substantial contribution of high-biodiversity areas to the provision of NCP. Protecting areas of high biodiversity value will synergistically contribute to the preservation of many of nature’s contributions humanity depends on.

The 2022 United Nations (UN) Biodiversity Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) recognized for the first-time ‘inland waters’ as a distinct realm in terms of setting targets and a process for monitoring and conserving them and their biodiversity. It is common for environmentalists and environmental scholars to bemoan things that they care about, but that have been forgotten, ignored, or excluded when it comes to environmental decisions, or the development of environmental policy. Often those concerns focus on a specific taxonomic group or species, a specific locality, a particular environmental decision, or a particular regional or national policy. However, rarely do they focus on an entire realm that occurs around the globe. By ‘realm’ we are referring to terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Equally important, some of the key messages of the Kunming-Montreal GBF were picked up at the UN Water Conference in March 2023, the first of such meetings in almost 50 years, which commits to a global water action agenda to restore and protect freshwater ecosystems as a component of sustainable development. Here, we draw attention to the CBD included language that recognizes inland waters on their own merits (i.e., as a distinct realm) within the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) [1] that was submitted by the President of CBD COP 15, held in Montreal, on December 18, 2022.

Harmful fisheries subsidies contribute to overfishing leading to environmental and societal impacts. If only fisheries and ecosystems within the subsidising nations’ jurisdiction were affected, then unilateral actions might be sufficient to help safeguard our ocean and the people reliant upon it. However, just as fish move between jurisdictions, so too do the subsidised fishing fleets that target them. As such, the impacts and solutions to subsidies-induced overfishing are often matters of international concern. Mapping the distribution and flows of harmful subsidies is therefore key to understanding these concerns, informing multilateral reform, and empowering impacted nations to strengthen the terms of access to their waters and resources. Here we quantify the amount of harmful fisheries subsidies that supports fishing in the high seas, domestic and foreign waters. We estimate that between 20% and 37% of all harmful fisheries subsidies support fishing in foreign waters or the high seas, that is outside the jurisdictions of the subsidising nations. We show that harmful subsidies primarily originate from nations with high-Human Development Index (HDI), strong fisheries management capacity and relatively sustainable fish stocks, yet disproportionately impact nations with low or very low-HDI, lower management capacity and more vulnerable fish stocks—40% of the harmful subsidies that support fishing in very low-HDI nations waters originate from high-HDI and very-high HDI nations. We show that Asia, Europe, and North America, are net subsidy sources; they provide more harmful subsidies to their fishing fleets than their respective ecosystems are impacted by; while Africa, South, Central America and Caribbean, and Oceania are net subsidy-sinks. This discrepancy between the source of harmful subsidies and the nations that are ultimately impacted is unsustainable and unjust. Prohibiting all harmful subsidies to distant-water fishing and fishing in the high seas—with narrow exceptions for Small Island Developing States—should be prioritised to support the advancement of sustainable and equitable fisheries worldwide.

Coastal communities are on the frontlines of three accelerating global change drivers, climate change, blue growth, and the expansion of area-based conservation, leading to a “triple exposure” scenario. Despite efforts to maximize social benefits from climate, development, and conservation, externally driven processes can converge to amplify vulnerabilities and inequalities. Pre-existing social injustices increase the sensitivity of affected individuals to change and limit their capacity to adapt or benefit from the interacting impacts of triple exposure. We argue that external implementors cannot effectively and equitably achieve climate, economic, and conservation goals without prioritizing social justice and building general resilience. We therefore recommend that implementors: (1) address root causes of vulnerability, namely pre-existing social injustices; (2) use participatory systems approaches to improve understanding of local contexts and potential consequences of proposed initiatives; and (3) leverage inclusive partnerships to facilitate collaborative design and implementation. These strategies—applied together and adapted to local contexts—can support well-being, justice, and resilience within coastal communities experiencing rapid change.

Outdoor recreation is widespread, with uncertain effects on wildlife. The human shield hypothesis (HSH) suggests that recreation could have differential effects on predators and prey, with predator avoidance of humans creating a spatial refuge ‘shielding’ prey from people. The generality of the HSH remains to be tested across larger scales, wherein human shielding may prove generalizable, or diminish with variability in ecological contexts. We combined data from 446 camera traps and 79,279 sampling days across 10 landscapes spanning 15,840 km2 in western Canada. We used hierarchical models to quantify the influence of recreation and landscape disturbance (roads, logging) on ungulate prey (moose, mule deer and elk) and carnivore (wolf, grizzly bear, cougar and black bear) site use. We found limited support for the HSH and strong responses to recreation at local but not larger spatial scales. Only mule deer showed positive but weak landscape-level responses to recreation. Elk were positively associated with local recreation while moose and mule deer responses were negative, contrary to HSH predictions. Mule deer showed a more complex interaction between recreation and land-use disturbance, with more negative responses to recreation at lower road density or higher logged areas. Contrary to HSH predictions, carnivores did not avoid recreation and grizzly bear site use was positively associated. We also tested the effects of roads and logging on temporal activity overlap between mule deer and recreation, expecting deer to minimize interaction with humans by partitioning time in areas subject to more habitat disturbance. However, temporal overlap between people and deer increased with road density. Our findings highlight the complex ecological patterns that emerge at macroecological scales. There is a need for expanded monitoring of human and wildlife use of recreation areas, particularly multi-scale and -species approaches to studying the interacting effects of recreation and land-use change on wildlife.

Wildlife conservation in the Anthropocene requires bold conservation solutions including restoration of ecosystems and species. The recovery of large carnivore populations is a conservation goal which can generate significant benefits in terms of ecosystem services, ecological functionality, and human well-being. Tigers Panthera tigris, Asia’s most iconic species, are currently restricted to less than 10% of their historic range with recent national extinctions from a number of countries in mainland Southeast Asia. Tiger recovery through range expansion requires suitable habitat, a robust prey base, and high levels of institutional support for conservation. We explored government support for conservation to produce a ranking of the political opportunities for tiger restoration across current and former tiger range countries. We used this analysis, in combination with globally remotely sensed data-sets on human impact, to show that there is potential for significant tiger range expansion. We identified large expanses of currently unoccupied, but potentially suitable, habitat in at least 14 countries including all extant tiger range countries and four countries with extirpated tiger populations – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Viet Nam, and Kazakhstan. Thirty-two percent of expansion areas were within 50-km, and 50% within 100-km, of current tiger populations highlighting that in many landscapes range expansion could be driven by the natural dispersal of tigers provided connectivity is maintained or enhanced. The proportion of potential range within existing protected areas varied between <5% in India, Indonesia, and China, to >60% in Thailand and Cambodia. As such socially appropriate conservation approaches, in collaboration with local communities, will be necessary to support tiger recovery in many areas. We recommend that some of the areas which we have identified should be highlighted as significant for future tiger conservation by tiger range country governments. Whilst the landscapes and sites which we identify will require detailed ground-truthing, and all tiger reintroductions need extensive planning and feasibility assessments, safeguarding these areas for human-carnivore coexistence could provide significant planetary benefits and support both tiger recovery and Global Sustainable Development Goals.

Prairie dogs have declined by 98% throughout their range in the grasslands of North America. Translocations have been used as a conservation tool to reestablish colonies of this keystone species and to mitigate human–wildlife conflict. Understanding the behavioral responses of prairie dogs to translocation is of utmost importance to enhance the persistence of the species and for species that depend on them, including the critically endangered black-footed ferret. In 2017 and 2018, we translocated 658 black-tailed prairie dogs on the Lower Brule Indian Reservation in central South Dakota, USA, a black-footed ferret recovery site. Here, we describe and evaluate the effectiveness of translocating prairie dogs into augered burrows and soft-released within presumed coteries to reestablish colonies in previously occupied habitat. We released prairie dogs implanted with passive integrated transponders (PIT tags) and conducted recapture events approximately 1-month and 1-year post-release. We hypothesized that these methods would result in a successful translocation and that prairie dogs released as coteries would remain close to where they were released because of their highly social structure. In support of these methods leading to a successful translocation, 69% of marked individuals was captured 1-month post-release, and 39% was captured 1-year post-release. Furthermore, considerable recruitment was observed with 495 unmarked juveniles captured during the 1-year post-release trapping event, and the reestablished colony had more than doubled in the area by 2021. Contrary to our hypothesis, yet to our knowledge a novel finding, there was greater initial movement within the colony 1-month post-release than expected based on recapture locations compared with the published average territory size; however, 1 year after release, most recaptured individuals were captured within the expected territory size when compared to capture locations 1-month post-release. This research demonstrates that while translocating prairie dogs may be socially disruptive initially, it is an important conservation tool.

Synthesis research in ecology and environmental science improves understanding, advances theory, identifies research priorities, and supports management strategies by linking data, ideas, and tools. Accelerating environmental challenges increases the need to focus synthesis science on the most pressing questions. To leverage input from the broader research community, we convened a virtual workshop with participants from many countries and disciplines to examine how and where synthesis can address key questions and themes in ecology and environmental science in the coming decade. Seven priority research topics emerged: (1) diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), (2) human and natural systems, (3) actionable and use-inspired science, (4) scale, (5) generality, (6) complexity and resilience, and (7) predictability. Additionally, two issues regarding the general practice of synthesis emerged: the need for increased participant diversity and inclusive research practices; and increased and improved data flow, access, and skill-building. These topics and practices provide a strategic vision for future synthesis in ecology and environmental science.

Ensuring that companies can assess and manage their impacts on biodiversity will be crucial to solving the current biodiversity crisis, and regulatory and public pressure to disclose these impacts is increasing. Top-down intactness metrics (e.g., Mean Species Abundance) can be valuable for generating high-level or first-tier assessments of impact risk but do not provide sufficient precision or guidance for companies, regulators, or third-party assessors. New metrics based on bottom-up assessments of biodiversity (e.g., the Species Threat Abatement and Restoration metric) can accommodate spatial variation of biodiversity and provide more specific guidance for actions to avoid, reduce, remediate, and compensate for impacts and to identify positive opportunities.

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are elusive large carnivores inhabiting snow-covered and remote areas. Their effective conservation and management are challenged by inadequate population information, necessitating development of novel data collection methods. Environmental DNA (eDNA) from snow tracks (footprints in snow) has identified species based on mitochondrial DNA, yet its utility for individual-based analyses remains unsolved due to challenges accessing the nuclear genome. We present a protocol for capturing nuclear eDNA from polar bear, Eurasian lynx and snow leopard snow tracks and verify it through genotyping at a selection of microsatellite markers. We successfully retrieved nuclear eDNA from 87.5% (21/24) of wild polar bear snow tracks, 59.1% (26/44) of wild Eurasian lynx snow tracks, and the single snow leopard sampled. We genotyped over half of all wild polar bear samples (54.2%, 13/24) at five loci, and 11% (9/44) of wild lynx samples and the snow leopard at three loci. Genotyping success from Eurasian lynx snow tracks increased to 24% when tracks were collected by trained rather than untrained personnel. Thirteen wild polar bear samples comprised 11 unique genotypes and two identical genotypes; likely representing 12 individual bears, one of which was sampled twice. Snow tracks show promise for use alongside other non-invasive and conventional methods as a reliable source of nuclear DNA for genetic mark-recapture of elusive and threatened mammals. The detailed protocol we present has utility for broadening end user groups and engaging Indigenous and local communities in species monitoring.

Study Region: The Kwando (Cuando) River and the western headwaters of the Zambezi River, which are data-scarce basins of southern Africa. Study Focus: A comparative analysis of the performance of two fundamentally different hydrological modelling approaches (a conceptual model and a theory guided machine learning model) in a data-sparse region. New Hydrological Insights for the Region: The machine learning model (HydroForecast) generally performs better – in terms of statistical fit between simulated and observed flows – than the conceptual model (Pitman). For the Kwando River, the conceptual model explicitly simulates the expected attenuation effects of a large floodplain, while the machine learning model represents this and other processes implicitly. The two models quantify the Kwando sub-basin flow contributions differently, with the conceptual model calibrated manually to align with the available qualitative information that suggests that the majority of the runoff is generated in the upstream sub-basin and then attenuated in the downstream floodplain. Generally, this work offers insight into how the two very different models can simulate historical flows in a large basin when streamflow observations and the forcing rainfall data are limited and of unknown quality, and suggests that a machine learning model better leverages information from multiple training parameters to reproduce the measured streamflows.

Coastal ecosystems have the potential to contribute to disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change. While previous studies have estimated the value of current coastal ecosystems for reducing coastal risk, there have been relatively few studies that look at changes in ecosystem service provision, in the past and under climate change. We employ the probabilistic, event-based CLIMADA platform to quantify the protection from tropical cyclones provided by coastal ecosystems, modeling the number of beneficiaries in the past and under future climate change. We also investigate the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NbS), such as mangrove restoration. We find that currently, one in five (21%) of all people impacted annually by tropical cyclones in the global low-elevation coastal zone is within the protection distance of coastal ecosystems. Over the last 30 years, the share of protected people has decreased by approximately 2%, due to ecosystem loss. With climate change, the average annual number of people impacted will increase by 40%. Simultaneously, the proportion of people protected by coastal ecosystems with climate change decreases due to changes in tropical cyclone distribution (-1%). The importance of current coastal protection, and the potential for increasing protection by NbS, varies widely between countries. While the number of people protected globally only increases slightly with mangrove restoration, protection in individual countries can increase by up to 39%. Our findings provide a basis for NbS planning and adaptation policy, by highlighting areas which will be crucial for coastal protection services in a world altered by climate change.

Understanding large carnivore demography on human-dominated lands is a priority to inform conservation strategies, yet few studies examine long-term trends. Jaguars (Panthera onca) are one such species whose population trends and survival rates remain unknown across working lands. We integrated nine years of camera trap data and tourist photos to estimate jaguar density, survival, abundance, and probability of tourist sightings on a working ranch and tourism destination in Colombia. We found that abundance increased from five individuals in 2014 to 28 in 2022, and density increased from 1.88 ± 0.87 per 100 km2 in 2014 to 3.80 ± 1.08 jaguars per 100 km2 in 2022. The probability of a tourist viewing a jaguar increased from 0% in 2014 to 40% in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Our results are the first robust estimates of jaguar survival and abundance on working lands. Our findings highlight the importance of productive lands for jaguar conservation and suggest that a tourism destination and working ranch can host an abundant population of jaguars when accompanied by conservation agreements and conflict interventions. Our analytical model that combines conventional data collection with tourist sightings can be applied to other species that are observed during tourism activities.

The Nature Futures Framework (NFF) is a heuristic tool for co-creating positive futures for nature and people. It seeks to open up a diversity of futures through mainly three value perspectives on nature – Nature for Nature, Nature for Society, and Nature as Culture. This paper describes how the NFF can be applied in modelling to support decision-making. First, we describe key considerations for the NFF in developing qualitative and quantitative scenarios: i) multiple value perspectives on nature as a state space where pathways improving nature toward a frontier can be represented, ii) mutually reinforcing key feedbacks of social-ecological systems that are important for nature conservation and human wellbeing, iii) indicators of multiple knowledge systems describing the evolution of complex social-ecological dynamics. We then present three approaches to modelling Nature Futures scenarios in the review, screening, and design phases of policy processes. This paper seeks to facilitate the integration of relational values of nature in models and strengthen modelled linkages across biodiversity, nature’s contributions to people, and quality of life.

The conservation of natural and cultural resources shared between countries is a significant challenge that can be addressed through the establishment of transboundary conservation areas (TBCAs). TBCAs enable countries to harmonize cross-border governance and management, increase protected area (PA) coverage, and strengthen relationships between neighbouring countries and communities. In Africa, many ecosystems and species ranges span multiple countries, making TBCAs a crucial tool for biodiversity conservation. However, there is a lack of research on where TBCAs can be established or need to be established. To address this gap, we conducted a study to identify opportunities for establishing TBCAs in Africa. We first compiled an up-to-date list of existing TBCAs on the continent. Then, we identified potential TBCAs by identifying protected areas next to country borders that are adjacent to other protected areas in a neighbouring country. We also evaluated the functional connectivity between these PA pairs and prioritized potential TBCAs based on size, connectivity, and ease of establishment. We identified 27 existing TBCAs and 8,481 potential TBCAs in Africa composed of various possible combinations of 2,326 individual PAs. Our results provide a baseline of existing TBCAs and offer a better understanding of where transboundary conservation might be established or strengthened. We also highlight areas where future transboundary conservation efforts could safeguard PA connectivity. This information can guide policy and decision-making processes towards promoting conservation and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources shared between countries in Africa.

As humanity has become increasingly urban, a growing number of people have been deprived of access to nature and the benefits it provides. This is especially true for marginalized groups, who often live in neighbourhoods where nature has been so diminished and degraded that it provides fewer types, and much lower levels of benefits.

We review the literatures on human–nature relationships, urban sustainability and justice to create an actionable definition of ‘access to nature’ that people can use to advocate for and guide investments that improve access to nature in urban contexts.

We show how the interplay of three dimensions of justice—recognitional, procedural and distributional—determines access to nature in cities, and how these dimensions are core to increasing access to urban nature.
We present a design thinking framework that centres justice in creating interventions for access to nature, together with questions that can guide the process of designing and implementing new interventions.

Lastly, we illustrate how our framework can be operationalized by showcasing three case studies that improve access to nature to marginalized communities in the United States: Latino Outdoors, Sogorea Te′ Land Trust and the Nature Imagery in Prisons Project.
We conclude by re-affirming the importance of centring justice in improving access to nature, so that all people can enjoy the benefits that nature provides and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Approaches to marine conservation and management issues has often been limited to using scientific research to propose technical and policy interventions. However, communicating outputs as scientific publications and policy briefs has limited reach and impact for non-academic audiences. Art markets in Mombasa and Kilifi Counties in Kenya were sampled to determine how the creative arts can be used to communicate ocean science. Artwork with terrestrial themes was popular and increasingly available to buyers compared to ocean art. Billfish as a representative species was popular in ocean art culture, underscoring its potential in a niche market for ocean art. Our study highlights opportunities for active collaboration between scientists and artists in communicating messages from scientific work to non-academic audiences. Engagement of Western Indian Ocean countries in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will benefit from the use of ocean art in science communication and enhance ocean literacy in the region.

The HydroSHEDS database provides seamless hydrographic data to support hydro-ecological research and applications on a regional to global scale. A steadily increasing availability and accuracy of remote sensing data promotes the development of a second and refined version of HydroSHEDS, which is based on the TanDEM-X dataset. To derive hydrographic information from the topographic data, the TanDEM-X digital elevation model (DEM) requires editing, which is summarized in the so-called hydrologic pre-conditioning. The processing steps include an infill of voids and outliers in the DEM and the delineation of a global high-resolution coastline. Furthermore, a global water mask is generated to edit rough and noisy appearing open water surfaces in the DEM. An urban correction layer is calculated to reduce distortions in river flow paths due to built-up areas. Within the HydroSHEDS workflow, the preconditioning will be complemented with refined hydrological optimization and correction algorithms. Compared to HydroSHEDS v1, the resulting hydrologically conditioned DEM ensures a more accurate derivation of flow direction and flow accumulation maps.

Satellite-derived Ecosystem Functional Types (EFTs) are increasingly used in ecology and conservation to characterize ecosystem heterogeneity. The diversity of EFTs, also known as Ecosystem Functional Diversity (EFD), has been suggested both as a potential metric of ecosystem-level biodiversity and as a predictor for ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and resilience. However, the impact of key methodological choices on patterns of EFTs and EFD have not been formally assessed. Using Costa Rica as a study system, we compared EFTs and EFD, derived from MODIS and Landsat data using different methodological assumptions, at both national and local extents. Our results showed that the regional spatial patterns of EFTs and EFD derived from 250 m MODIS and 30 m Landsat are notably different. The selection of sensors for deriving EFTs and EFD is dependent on the study area, data quality, and the research objective. Given its finer spatial resolution, Landsat has greater capacity to differentiate more EFTs than MODIS, though MODIS could be a better choice in frequently cloudy areas due to its shorter revisiting time. We also found that the selection of spatial extent used to derive EFD is critical, as smaller extents (e.g., at a local rather than a national scale) can show much higher diversity. However, diversity levels derived at smaller extents appear to be nested within the diversity levels derived at larger extents. As EFTs and EFD continue to develop as a tool for ecosystem ecology, we highlight the important methodological choices to ensure that these metrics best fit research objectives.

Over the past few decades, the use of camera-traps has revolutionized our ability to monitor populations of wild terrestrial mammals. While methods to estimate abundance from individually-identifiable animals are well-established, they are mostly restricted to species with clear natural markings or else necessitate invasive and often costly animal tagging campaigns. Estimating abundance or density from unmarked animals remains challenging. Several models recently developed to deal with this issue are promising, but are not widely used by field ecologists. Here, we developed a framework for applying the Space-To-Event (STE) model—originally designed to be used with time-lapse images—on motion-triggered camera-trap data. Our approach involves performing bootstrap resampling on the photographic dataset to generate multiple datasets that are then used as input to the STE model. We tested our approach on 29 datasets, including 17 ungulate species from eight sites, in six different countries and various ecosystems. Then, we conducted a regression analysis to evaluate how variations in ecological and sampling conditions across studies affected the bias and precision of our STE density estimates. Our study shows that with a bootstrap resampling approach and information on animal activity and effective detection distances to animals, the STE model can be used to analyze motion-trigger datasets and provide population density estimates that are similar to those from other methods. We found that measuring the camera viewshed was critical to prevent major negative biases in density estimates. Moreover, using a 1-s sampling window was important to avoid the positive bias that results from violating the instantaneous-sampling assumption. We found that precision increased with greater sampling effort and higher density populations. Based on these results, we highlight several issues from past studies that have applied the original timelapse-based STE to motion-trigger datasets, issues that our bootstrap resampling approach addresses. We caution that the STE model, whether applied to timelapse or motion-triggered datasets, relies on strict assumptions. Any violations of these assumptions, such as non-instantaneous sampling or the application of angle and distance of detection provided by the camera manufacturer, can cause biases in multiple directions that may be difficult to differentiate.

Evidence-informed decision-making can help catalyze the development and implementation of effective conservation actions. Yet despite decades of research on evidence-informed conservation, its realization within conservation implementing agencies and organizations still faces challenges. First, conservation decisions are shaped by individual, organizational, and systemic factors that operate and interact across different temporal and spatial scales. Second, the different cultures and value systems within conservation implementing agencies fuels continued debate on what can and should count as evidence for decision-making, and ultimately shapes how evidence is used in practice. While the importance of evidence-informed conservation is increasingly recognized, we have witnessed few changes within conservation implementing agencies that could enable better engagement with diverse types of evidence and knowledge holders. Based on our experience supporting monitoring, evaluation and learning systems in conservation implementing agencies, we argue that to realize evidence-informed conservation we need a better understanding of the process and context of conservation decision-making within organizations, an alignment of institutional systems and processes that generate evidence relevant to information needs, and changes that help conservation organizations become learning organizations. These actions could help transform how conservation practitioners and organizations learn to enable more evidence-informed decision-making within the complex systems they work in.

Aquaculture production is projected to surpass wild-capture fisheries as the primary source of aquatic animal protein in the near future. Farmed shrimp—which are amongst the most valuable aquaculture commodities—are raised predominantly in Southeast Asia and Latin America in a variety of production systems, spanning from extensive to intensive farming. Shrimp aquaculture has been widely criticized for causing mangrove forest degradation and loss, leading to calls for more sustainable aquaculture approaches that protect mangroves. Here we examine an approach promoted as more sustainable—integrated mangrove aquaculture (IMA): a type of farming where mangroves are planted in or alongside shrimp ponds. We argue that mangroves within IMA shrimp systems provide biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services that are, at best, compromised, especially when compared to intact mangrove forests. Given the rapid adoption of IMA approaches, including advocacy for uptake from many governments and non-governmental organizations, there is an urgent need to ensure that these and other aquaculture systems do not result in any conversion of intact mangrove ecosystems into aquaculture ponds, and to identify any benefits (or lack thereof) provided by IMA systems. The increasing adoption of IMA may offer false promises for managing trade-offs between increasing aquaculture productivity and mangrove forest conservation.

The construction of solar energy facilities can have positive or negative impacts on biodiversity depending on siting and associated land use transitions. We identified drivers of solar siting and quantified patterns of buildout in states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay watershed – a biodiversity hotspot with numerous ecosystem services. Using a convolutional neural network, we mapped the footprints of ground-mounted solar arrays present in satellite imagery annually from 2017 to 2021 in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. As of 2021, we identified 958 solar arrays covering 52.3 km2 built primarily on previously cultivated land, while avoiding natural landcover. We fit a binomial-Weibull model to these solar timeseries data in a hierarchical, Bayesian framework to quantify the relationship between geospatial covariates and rate of solar development. Solar array construction rate increased in cultivated areas, areas of lower agricultural suitability, lower slope, lower forest cover, lower biodiversity protection, and greater distances from roads. We also estimated changes in the rate of solar construction over time and found differences among states: acceleration in Virginia and deceleration in New York. We used parameter estimates to map the relative likelihood of future solar development across the study area. This methodology can be used to anticipate where solar is likely to be built in different landscapes and how these patterns align with conservation goals. Around the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the selection of lower quality agricultural areas for solar energy minimizes removal of important habitat and provides opportunities for native plant and pollinator restoration.

Community-based conservation can support livelihoods and biodiversity, while reinforcing local and Indigenous values, cultures, and institutions. Its delivery can help address cross-cutting global challenges, such as climate change, conservation, poverty, and food security. Therefore, understanding trends in community-based conservation is pertinent to setting and implementing global goals. We undertook a horizon scan to prioritize 15 emerging threats and opportunities expected to impact the future effectiveness of community-based conservation. Topics relate to global biodiversity policy; human rights; shifting human geography; inclusion, diversity, equity, and access; conservation finance and income; and economic reforms. Our findings offer guidance on strengthening community-based conservation to achieve global environmental and development goals.

In the pathway toward environmental sustainability, it is important that we understand how individuals can make a difference through diverse types of engagement. Theories suggest that transformative change toward a sustainable future requires individuals to engage in not only private actions (e.g. household energy saving, recycling) but also social-signalling and system-changing civic actions (e.g. opinion sharing, voting, petition signing and protesting). Yet, past research on pro-environmental behaviour has primarily focused on private actions, while overlooking individual contributions to facilitating widespread change through civic actions.

We use the exotic pet trade as a focal case to understand how individuals may act to promote environmental sustainability through different patterns of engagement and what factors might explain these distinct patters of action.

Results from an online survey about behavioural intentions in the United States (n = 527) revealed three types of individual action that could transform the exotic pet trade.

Private actions clustered separately from civic actions. Within the category of civic actions, a distinction emerged between lower social-commitment actions and higher social-commitment actions, based on the perceived level of social engagement and personal efforts involved.
We also found that each type of action was associated with unique factors, highlighting the importance of attitudes, perceived social norms, and relational values for variously promoting individual engagement among the U.S. public.

Our findings suggest that these distinct types of action should be treated differently when designing future wildlife conservation campaigns and behaviour change interventions.

Conservation interventions are central strategies for achieving sustainable development goals given the inextricable dependence of humanity on nature. Current debate centres on whether interventions such as marine protected areas (MPAs) promote co-benefits or trade-offs among multiple goals such as poverty alleviation, food security and protection of marine resources. Resolving this question is hindered by a lack of quantitative impact evaluations of concurrent ecological and social co-benefits of MPAs. Here we use a statistical matching approach to examine whether MPAs are associated with co-benefits or trade-offs between reef fish abundances and measures of human well-being, including income, diet and food security in the Mesoamerican region. We find that highly protected areas (HPAs) with stringent fishing restrictions tend to support high mean abundances and stable or increasing trends in fish abundances compared with unprotected sites and ‘general use zones’ of MPAs. At the same time, indicators of income and food security were elevated in communities near MPAs, especially HPAs, compared with communities far from MPAs. Finally, proximity to MPAs and to reefs with high fish abundance were both positively associated with well-being across space. Together, these results provide quantitative evidence of co-benefits for fish and people associated with MPAs, highlighting the potential value of MPAs in achieving multiple sustainable development goals.

Climate change, globalization, and increasing industrial and urban activities threaten the sustainability and viability of small-scale fisheries. How those affected can collectively mobilize their actions, share knowledge, and build their local adaptive capacity will shape how best they respond to these changes. This paper examines the changes experienced by small-scale fishing actors, social and governance complexities, and the sustainability challenges within the fisheries system in Limbe, Cameroon. Drawing on the fish-as-food framework, we discuss how ineffective fishery management in light of a confluence of global threats has resulted in changes to fish harvesters’ activities, causing shortages in fish supply and disruptions in the fish value chain. The paper uses focus group discussions with fish harvesters and fishmongers to present three key findings. First, we show that changes in the fisheries from increased fishing activities and ineffective fishery management have disrupted fish harvesting and supply, impacting the social and economic well-being of small-scale fishing actors and their communities. Second, there are complexities in the fisheries value chain due to shortages in fish supply, creating conflicts between fisheries actors whose activities are not regulated by any specific set of rules or policies. Third, despite the importance of small-scale fisheries in Limbe, management has been abandoned by fishing actors who are not well-equipped with the appropriate capacity to design and enforce effective fishery management procedures and protections against illegal fishing activities. Empirical findings from this understudied fishery make scholarly contributions to the literature on the fish-as-food framework and demonstrate the need to support small-scale actors’ fishing activities and the sustainability of the fisheries system in Limbe.

As governments and non-state actors strive to minimize global warming, a primary strategy is the decarbonization of power systems which will require a massive increase in renewable electricity generation. Leading energy agencies forecast a doubling of global hydropower capacity as part of that necessary expansion of renewables. While hydropower provides generally low-carbon generation and can integrate variable renewables, such as wind and solar, into electrical grids, hydropower dams are one of the primary reasons that only one-third of the world’s major rivers remain free-flowing. This loss of free-flowing rivers has contributed to dramatic declines of migratory fish and sediment delivery to agriculturally productive deltas. Further, the reservoirs behind dams have displaced tens of millions of people. Thus, hydropower challenges the world’s efforts to meet climate targets while simultaneously achieving other Sustainable Development Goals. In this paper, we explore strategies to achieve the needed renewable energy expansion while sustaining the diverse social and environmental benefits of rivers. These strategies can be implemented at scales ranging from the individual project (environmental flows, fish passage and other site-level mitigation) to hydropower cascades to river basins and regional electrical power systems. While we review evidence that project-level management and mitigation can reduce environmental and social costs, we posit that the most effective scale for finding balanced solutions occurs at the scale of power systems. We further hypothesize that the pursuit of solutions at the system scale can also provide benefits for investors, developers and governments; evidence of benefits to these actors will be necessary for achieving broad uptake of the approaches described in this paper. We test this hypothesis through cases from Chile and Uganda that demonstrate the potential for system-scale power planning to allow countries to meet low-carbon energy targets with power systems that avoid damming high priority rivers (e.g., those that would cause conflicts with other social and environmental benefits) for a similar system cost as status quo approaches. We also show that, through reduction of risk and potential conflict, strategic planning of hydropower site selection can improve financial performance for investors and developers, with a case study from Colombia.

Ocean sustainability initiatives – in research, policy, management and development – will be more effective in delivering comprehensive benefits when they proactively engage with, invest in and use social knowledge. We synthesize five intervention areas for social engagement and collaboration with marine social scientists, and in doing so we appeal to all ocean science disciplines and non-academics working in ocean initiatives in industry, government, funding agencies and civil society. The five social intervention areas are: (1) Using ethics to guide decision-making, (2) Improving governance, (3) Aligning human behavior with goals and values, (4) Addressing impacts on people, and (5) Building transdisciplinary partnerships and co-producing sustainability transformation pathways. These focal areas can guide the four phases of most ocean sustainability initiatives (Intention, Design, Implementation, Evaluation) to improve social benefits and avoid harm. Early integration of social knowledge from the five areas during intention setting and design phases offers the deepest potential for delivering benefits. Later stage collaborations can leverage opportunities in existing projects to reflect and learn while improving impact assessments, transparency and reporting for future activities.

Based on a review of >50,000 academic publications, policy documents, and Indigenous and local knowledge sources, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Values Assessment examined current knowledge on the diversity of nature’s values and valuation methods to gain insights into their role in policymaking and to their fuller integration into decisions. It presents an inclusive typology of the multiple conceptualizations of nature’s values and their interrelationships, and shows global patterns of where and how valuation studies have been conducted. It reveals that >50 well established valuation methods from diverse disciplines and traditions are available to decision makers. Yet, <5% of published studies document uptake of values information into decisions, and few valuation efforts adequately represent or engage stakeholder diversity in valuation processes. Furthermore, evidence shows that people and nature benefit when nature’s multiple values are considered in the design and implementation of biodiversity conservation and territorial management policies (e.g., protected areas, payments for ecosystem services). The
assessment concludes that combinations of values-centred approaches can leverage transformative changes towards more just and sustainable futures.

Wildlife species may shift towards more nocturnal behavior in areas of higher human influence, but it is unclear how consistent this shift might be. We investigated how humans impact large mammal diel activities in a heavily recreated protected area and an adjacent university-managed forest in southwest British Columbia, Canada. We used camera trap detections of humans and wildlife, along with data on land-use infrastructure (e.g., recreation trails and restricted-access roads), in Bayesian regression models to investigate impacts of human disturbance on wildlife nocturnality. We found moderate evidence that black bears (Ursus americanus) were more nocturnal in response to human detections (mean posterior estimate = 0.35, 90% credible interval = 0.04 to 0.65), but no other clear relationships between wildlife nocturnality and human detections. However, we found evidence that coyotes (Canis latrans) (estimates = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.46 to 1.17) were more nocturnal and snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) (estimate = -0.87, 95% CI = -1.29 to -0.46) were less nocturnal in areas of higher trail density. We also found that coyotes (estimate = -0.87, 95% CI = -1.29 to -0.46) and cougars (Puma concolor) (estimate = -1.14, 90% CI = -2.16 to -0.12) were less nocturnal in areas of greater road density. Furthermore, coyotes, black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus), and snowshoe hares were moderately more nocturnal in areas near urban-wildland boundaries (estimates and 90% CIs: coyote = -0.29, -0.55 to -0.04, black-tailed deer = -0.25, -0.45 to -0.04, snowshoe hare = -0.24, -0.46 to -0.01). Our findings imply anthropogenic landscape features may influence medium to large-sized mammal diel activities more than direct human presence. While increased nocturnality may be a promising mechanism for human-wildlife coexistence, shifts in temporal activity can also have negative repercussions for wildlife, warranting further research into the causes and consequences of wildlife responses to increasingly human-dominated landscapes.

Forest regeneration can be a low-cost solution to mitigate climate change, and mapping its extent can support global goals such as the Bonn Challenge, which set a goal to put 350 million hectares of degraded forests and landscapes into restoration by 2030. Our study combined multiple remote sensing datasets and expert surveys, identifying 55.7+/- 6.2 million hectares of likely regenerated forests between 2000 and 2015 across areas that were not forested before 2000 and have remained forested from 2015 to 2018. The identified forest regeneration could potentially represent 22-25 billion young trees and a total biomass of about 3.2 billion tonnes. For every country, forest regeneration took place in sites with less opportunity cost for agriculture. However, in more developed regions, forest regeneration took place in sites with higher suitability for cultivation. Expert feedback associated agricultural land use transitions and the establishment of protected areas, coupled with effective management and local support, as the key factors leading to successful forest regeneration. The results, publicly available, can facilitate discussions and help identify strategic locations to foster forest regeneration to achieve the global goals of mitigating climate change and restoring biodiversity.

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an approach to ocean management with an increasingly global reach. However, existing evaluation strategies have yet to ascertain the extent to which MSP achieves social, ecological, and economic goals to benefit coastal environments and human communities. Here, we experiment with a theory-based approach as a means of overcoming long-standing obstacles to MSP evaluation. We developed and applied an eight-step evaluation protocol to five diverse cases of MSP, focusing on the evaluative feasibility of the protocol as we moved from identifying objectives to assessing the sustainability of outcomes. We found evidence that theory-based evaluation (operationalized via theories of change) can bridge quantitative outcome and qualitative process evaluations, two essential approaches that on their own produce incomplete pictures of MSP. Our work suggests that a theory-based approach can enhance opportunities to incorporate diverse knowledge sources and data types into outcome evaluations and thus better capture complex social, political, and historical dimensions that are difficult to quantify but critical to MSP success. We also uncovered likely challenges to implementing theory-based evaluation for MSP, including the apparent data- and time-intensive nature of the approach. We found that applying theory-based evaluation is difficult for plans lacking well-defined goals, objectives, and intended outcomes and that increased documentation of planning motivations and the planning process are needed to rigorously evaluate MSP. Ultimately, we join others in the marine conservation and management fields who are optimistic about theory-based evaluation. Our evaluation protocol provides a first step towards a practical guide to accelerate the use of this assessment approach.

Dams have often been constructed for hydropower, water storage and to support socio-economic development, particularly in areas of water stress. In many places, the water stored in human-made reservoirs is essential to meet the development objectives of water supply, agriculture, industry, energy generation and other sectors. However, in the absence of adequate foresight and planning, many past dams have had considerable negative impacts on ecosystems and the livelihoods of affected communities, resulting in conflicts and health hazards. While enhanced human health and well-being could be considered as the ultimate outcome of development programs, the public health impact of dams remains an issue that is often neglected by policy makers and investors. National policies and international guidelines, such as those of the World Commission on Dams, have been used to improve planning and impact assessment of dams. Here, we provide an analysis of four large dams, across three continents, and show that they had limited consistency with World Commission on Dams principles and guidelines. Moreover, health aspects were largely neglected during planning, construction and operation of these dams, but seriously undermine their intended benefits. This perspective paper discusses impacts of dams on energy and food, ecosystem health, inclusion, and ultimately human health and wellbeing. We argue that a One Health perspective, based on these four categories, can support the systematic consideration of environmental, animal, and human health determinants. A dedicated One Health approach to dams and reservoirs remains to be developed but could potentially improve how dams, both existing and future, support more inclusive development.

Monitoring of terrestrial and aquatic species assemblages at large spatial scales based on environmental DNA (eDNA) has the potential to enable evidence-based environmental policymaking. The spatial coverage of eDNA-based studies varies substantially, and the ability of eDNA metabarcoding to capture regional biodiversity remains to be assessed; thus, questions about best practices in the sampling design of entire landscapes remain open. We tested the extent to which eDNA sampling can capture the diversity of a region with highly heterogeneous habitat patches across a wide elevation gradient for five days through multiple hydrological catchments of the Swiss Alps. Using peristaltic pumps, we filtered 60 L of water at five sites per catchment for a total volume of 1800 L. Using an eDNA metabarcoding approach focusing on vertebrates and plants, we detected 86 vertebrate taxa spanning 41 families and 263 plant taxa spanning 79 families across ten catchments. For mammals, fishes, amphibians and plants, the detected taxa covered some of the most common species in the region according to long-term records while including a few more rare taxa. We found marked turnover among samples from distinct elevational classes indicating that the biological signal in alpine rivers remains relatively localised and is not aggregated downstream. Accordingly, species compositions differed between catchments and correlated with catchment-level forest and grassland cover. Biomonitoring schemes based on capturing eDNA across rivers within biologically integrated catchments may pave the way toward a spatially comprehensive estimation of biodiversity.

The Rio Grande–Rio Bravo’s flow regime has been highly altered for more than 130 years, yet the river ecosystem still supports important biodiversity including numerous endangered species. More than 80% of water consumed in the basin goes to irrigating farms, but in recent decades, farmers have repeatedly experienced severe water shortages. Given this water-scarce condition, any plans for enhancing environmental flows must be carefully designed to minimize impacts or provide benefits to agriculture. This study describes the development of the Rio Grande–Rio Bravo’s first whole-basin hydrologic model—representing both the United States and Mexico portions of the basin—to enable exploration of environmental flow restoration needs and options for meeting these needs. We then demonstrate an analytical process in which environmental flow needs are compared to existing flow conditions to quantify gaps, and then evaluate how those gaps can be filled by reducing farm irrigation needs by shifting to less water-intensive crops and fallowing a portion of existing farmland while maintaining or improving net revenues. In our pilot assessment we find that an improvement of 2.2  m3/s would fill the environmental flow gap for late-summer low-flow conditions at Albuquerque, New Mexico. This flow enhancement is attainable by fallowing 18%–26% of cropland and shifting to more profitable and less water-intensive crops to sustain overall farm revenues.

The effectiveness of commitments to zero-deforestation remains debated. An overlooked aspect is the mixture of private and public policies. We study its potential with the concept of hybrid governance applied to two case studies: mandatory FSC certification for forest concessionaires in Gabon and the National Strategy against Imported Deforestation in France. We find that hybrid governance provides flexibility to adapt to shifting sustainability concerns and can enable public and private features to mutually compensate for their respective weaknesses. Hybrid governance experiments may only be transitory to give way to stronger public policies as illustrated by Gabon. The France case shows that the integration of voluntary private standards in public policies remains sensitive. Overall, we show that hybrid governance should not resort to a mere accumulation of private and public components; a real dialogue between both spheres is required. Such a dialogue can take place before or after hybrid governance materialises as illustrated by the two case studies, which suggests that it should not be taken for granted but can be a positive outcome of the process. The ways through which economic and business aspects, as well as political ones, shape hybrid governance appear to be diverse and not straightforward.

This Analysis presents a recently developed food system indicator framework and holistic monitoring architecture to track food system transformation towards global development, health and sustainability goals. Five themes are considered: (1) diets, nutrition and health; (2) environment, natural resources and production; (3) livelihoods, poverty and equity; (4) governance; and (5) resilience. Each theme is divided into three to five indicator domains, and indicators were selected to reflect each domain through a consultative process. In total, 50 indicators were selected, with at least one indicator available for every domain. Harmonized data of these 50 indicators provide a baseline assessment of the world’s food systems. We show that every country can claim positive outcomes in some parts of food systems, but none are among the highest ranked across all domains. Furthermore, some indicators are independent of national income, and each highlights a specific aspiration for healthy, sustainable and just food systems. The Food Systems Countdown Initiative will track food systems annually to 2030, amending the framework as new indicators or better data emerge.

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has taken millions of lives and has had a significant impact on societal norms. It has also affected nature and wildlife in numerous ways. Protected and Conserved Areas (PCAs), key interventions to safeguard nature, have only recently started to be discussed in the context of the pandemic even though natural spaces provide substantial ecological, social and economic value. PCAs are also important for reducing the risk of future pandemics as they can reduce land-use change—the main driver of emerging zoonotic diseases. This chapter aims to highlight the ecological, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on PCAs and lessons learned for PCA management to strengthen their ecological and societal values. The ecological impacts of the pandemic on PCAs included increased illegal logging and poaching, and increased risks to species such as bats and apes. The social impacts included reduced ranger welfare from overworking and staff cuts, and increased risks for local communities and Indigenous peoples who rely on PCAs. Lastly, the economic impacts included reduced funding for PCAs, which threatens livelihoods and increases conservation threats. Based on these impacts, key recommendations include strengthening regulations and protection measures, increasing benefit sharing and increasing diverse sources of funding, particularly in more affected regions, such as Latin America and Africa. Additionally, the IUCN Green List and a One Health approach can be used for improved PCA management and recovery.

The magnitude of global food loss and waste requires a major overhaul of economies and food supply chains to reduce food insecurity, environmental burdens, and economic losses. Reducing food loss and waste and improving access and distribution to feed hungry people are the highest priorities. The next highest value is converting energy and nutrients in food waste (FW) materials into animal feeds to produce more food while recovering resources and reducing environmental costs. Governments in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have developed laws, regulations, economic incentives, subsidies, and infrastructure to require collection and recycling of all sources of FW and promote the conversion of a high proportion (>65 %) to safe animal feed. Many countries have extensive laws and regulations designed to prevent transmission of animal diseases that could occur from feeding FW, but those in the U.S. and E.U. are too restrictive based on current heat processing technology and monitoring systems available, resulting in only 5–10 % of available FW used in animal feeds. In China, despite difficulties controlling African swine fever virus, new government initiatives show promise for developing guidelines, infrastructure, and processes for diverting more of the 350 million tonnes of annual FW toward safe animal feed.

Mangrove forests support unique biodiversity and provide a suite of ecosystem services (ES) that benefit people. Decades of continual mangrove loss and degradation have necessitated global efforts to protect and restore this important ecosystem. Generating and evaluating asset maps of biodiversity and ES is an important precursor to identifying locations that can deliver conservation outcomes across varying scales, such as maximising the co-occurrence of specific ES. We bring together global datasets on mangrove-affiliated biodiversity, carbon stocks, fish and invertebrate production, and coastal protection to provide insight into potential trade-offs, synergies and opportunities from mangrove conservation. We map opportunities where high ES provision co-occurs with these areas that could be leveraged in conservation planning, and identify potential high-value opportunities for single ES that might otherwise be missed with a biodiversity focus. Hotspots of single ES, co-occurrence of multiple ES, and opportunities to simultaneously leverage biodiversity and ES occurred throughout the world. For example, efforts that focus on conserving or restoring mangroves to store carbon can be targed to deliver multiple ES benefits. Some nations, such as Vietnam, Oman, Ecuador and China, showed consistent (although not necessarily strong) correlations between ES pairs. A lack of clear or consistent spatial trends elsewhere suggests that some nations will likely benefit more from complementarity-based approaches that focus on multiple sites with high provision of different services. Individual sites within these nations, however, such as Laguna de Terminos in Mexico still provide valuable opportunities to leverage co-benefits. Ensuring that an ES focused approach is complemented by strategic spatial planning is a priority, and our analyses provide a precursor towards decisions about where and how to invest.

Sustaining ecosystem services (ES) critical to human well-being is hindered by many practitioners lacking access to ES models (“the capacity gap”) or knowledge of the accuracy of available models (“the certainty gap”), especially in the world’s poorer regions. We developed ensembles of multiple models at an unprecedented global scale for five ES of high policy relevance. Ensembles were 2 to 14% more accurate than individual models. Ensemble accuracy was not correlated with proxies for research capacity, indicating that accuracy is distributed equitably across the globe and that countries less able to research ES suffer no accuracy penalty. By making these ES ensembles and associated accuracy estimates freely available, we provide globally consistent ES information that can support policy and decision-making in regions with low data availability or low capacity for implementing complex ES models. Thus, we hope to reduce the capacity and certainty gaps impeding local- to global-scale movement toward ES sustainability.

Spatial distribution and movement patterns of wild ungulates are strongly dependent on the spatial and temporal heterogeneity of biotic and abiotic resources (Bailey et al., 1996; Fryxell et al., 2004). In most African ecosystems, feeding, drinking and resting places are subject to high seasonal variability and can be spatially segregated at certain times of the year. In this context, animals adopt space-use, movement and activity strategies that allow them to minimize detrimental effects of the main limiting factors to reach, at different scales, suitable trade-offs between several constraints and needs that must be addressed simultaneously (Godvik et al., 2009; Massé and Côté, 2009). Ungulates, like the vast majority of higher vertebrates, do not move erratically through the environment, but restrict their movements to sites much smaller in size than their locomotion capabilities allow, and which they mostly exploit over a long period. Based on this, Burt (1943) conceptualized the concept of home range as ‘the area traversed by the individual in its normal activities of food gathering, mating, and caring for young’. The home range is thus the spatial result of the movements and behaviours that an individual (or a social group) expresses at different spatiotemporal scales to survive and reproduce, in other words to maximize its (their) selective value. The home range is a central concept

Freshwater connectivity and the associated flow regime are critical components of the health of freshwater ecosystems. When freshwater ecosystems are fragmented, movements and flows of species, nutrients, sediments, and water are altered, changing the natural dynamics of freshwater ecosystems. The consequences of these changes include declines and loss of freshwater species populations and freshwater ecosystems, and alterations in the delivery of certain ecosystem services, such as fisheries, buffering of flood events, healthy deltas, recreational and cultural values, and others. Measures exist that can maintain and restore connectivity or mitigate against its loss in the face of constructed barriers or other habitat alterations. These measures include system-scale planning for energy and water resources that includes options for limiting loss of freshwater connectivity; putting in place protections for keeping critically important freshwater habitats connected; mitigating impacts on freshwater ecosystems via barrier design, fish passage or implementation of environmental flows; restoring freshwaters via barrier removal and reconnection of rivers, wetlands and floodplains and via active management of groundwater recharge. We present case studies of measures applied in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas and reflect on the next generation of innovation needed to further enhance and advance the implementation of restoration and protection and the mitigation of freshwater connectivity impacts.

Over 2 billion people are unable to access safe, nutritious and sufficient food year-round. While global fisheries are considered key in providing essential nutrients to hundreds of millions of people around the globe, the specific contribution of small-scale fisheries to the nutrient supply given other available food supplies is unknown. Here, we combined multiple global databases to quantify the importance of marine small-scale fisheries to national-level nutrient supply of coastal populations. We found that, on average across assessed nutrients (iron, zinc, calcium, DHA + EPA and vitamins A and B12), small-scale fisheries contributed about 32% of overall global seafood nutrient supply, 17% of the nutrient supply from animal-sourced foods and 10% of nutrient supply from all foods. These global averages, however, underrepresent some key roles of ocean-based foods. Combining nutrient supply estimates with global estimates of inadequate nutrient intake, we found that about half of coastal countries that have a mean inadequate intake of at least 50% across assessed nutrients (iron, zinc, calcium, DHA + EPA and vitamins A and B12) rely on small scale fisheries for at least 15% of mean nutrient supply, and many rely on small scale fisheries for more than 30% of mean nutrient supply. Catch from small-scale fisheries is particularly important for the supply of vitamin B12, calcium and DHA + EPA, representing up to 100% of supply in selected countries. Our study demonstrates the significance of small-scale fisheries for nutritionally vulnerable coastal populations, emphasizing how effective fisheries management can contribute to public health.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are key management tools that contribute to the conservation of worldwide marine ecosystems, increasing nature's contributions to people derived from ecosystem services. These ecosystem services include key processes such as the release of oxygen, but also leisure opportunities, cultural inspiration, and food and medicine provision that improve the health and well-being of millions of people. In this Chapter we explain how natural processes and components in MPAs are valued by different groups of people; and how these can be addressed to maximize their effectiveness, avoiding negative socio-economic effects like social conflicts, or inequitable distribution of benefits. We recommend that creation and management decision-making in MPAs include the collection and integration of interdisciplinary data to develop pluralistic methods of valuation and fostering social equity by involving local stakeholders.

In 2022, 196 government parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to update and redesign their national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) by the end of 2024. This process offers an opportunity to influence the implementation of the Kunming-Montréal Global Biodiversity Framework and to shape how countries frame and address biodiversity–health interlinkages for the next decade. 1 Historically, NBSAPs have not drawn on available health expertise in their implementation. This is the time to prioritise fundamental gaps in the knowledge-to-policy interface and to improve policy coordination to advance systems-level, holistic health approaches to implementation. We propose recommendations for aligning NBSAPs to optimise outcomes for biodiversity and health.


Hydropower continues to expand globally as the power sector transitions away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels. New dam sites vary widely in the magnitude of their adverse effects on natural ecosystems and human livelihoods. Here, we discuss how strategic planning of hydropower expansion can assist decision makers in comparing the benefits of building dams against their socioenvironmental impacts. Advances in data availability and computational analysis now enable accounting for an increasing array of social and environmental metrics at ever-larger spatial scales. In turn, expanding the spatial scale of planning yields more options in the quest to improve both economic and socioenvironmental outcomes. There remains a pressing need to incorporate climate change into hydropower planning. Ultimately, these innovations in evaluating prospective dam sites should be integrated into strategic planning of the entire energy system to ensure that social and environmental disruption of river systems is minimized.

Progress in key social-ecological challenges of the global environmental agenda (e.g., climate change, biodiversity conservation, Sustainable Development Goals) is hampered by a lack of integration and synthesis of existing scientific evidence. Facing a fast-increasing volume of data, information remains compartmentalized to pre-defined scales and fields, rarely building its way up to collective knowledge. Today's distributed corpus of human intelligence, including the scientific publication system, cannot be exploited with the efficiency needed to meet current evidence synthesis challenges; computer-based intelligence could assist this task. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based approaches underlain by semantics and machine reasoning offer a constructive way forward, but depend on greater understanding of these technologies by the science and policy communities and coordination of their use. By labelling web-based scientific information to become readable by both humans and computers, machines can search, organize, reuse, combine and synthesize information quickly and in novel ways. Modern open science infrastructure—i.e., public data and model repositories—is a useful starting point, but without shared semantics and common standards for machine actionable data and models, our collective ability to build, grow, and share a collective knowledge base will remain limited. The application of semantic and machine reasoning technologies by a broad community of scientists and decision makers will favour open synthesis to contribute and reuse knowledge and apply it toward decision making.

Climate change affects ecosystems and the well-being of rural households relying on ecosystem services for their livelihoods. The ability to withstand the adverse effects of climate change depends on their livelihood resilience. The relationship between natural resource dependence and livelihood resilience of Indigenous forest households in the Amazon region is still poorly understood. We used a case study approach to identify factors contributing to the livelihood resilience and vulnerability of 45 households in the Communal Land of Origin Tacana I area in the Bolivian Amazon. Household income data were collected before (2013) and after (2015) an extreme weather event. We combined a theoretical resilience framework with a practical indexing method to calculate the factors contributing to livelihood resilience and vulnerability. Additionally, conditions, regulatory and policy frameworks shaping vulnerability and resilience at the local level were reviewed. Our results show that income activity choice influences households’ livelihood resilience and vulnerability. Regarding natural resources, a low vulnerability was linked to selling game and fish or pursuing a wage livelihood strategy, while high resilience was related to hunting and cattle. Our results underline the importance of social networks and capital for low cash-income households to provide support. National development policies prioritize economic growth based on strengthening the energy, agro-livestock sector and boosting oil and mining sectors with industrialization. Some of these priorities may threaten the resilience and increase the vulnerability of Indigenous forest-dependent peoples and their subsistence livelihoods. External pressure on forest resources, including fish, requires a holistic focus on livelihood resilience in national adaptation strategies. Anchoring sustainable natural resources management and monitoring strategies at all policy and operative levels is crucial to the livelihood resilience of forest-dependent (Tacana) households and forest ecosystem health. Risk management approaches need to be developed inclusively and have an integrated socio-ecological focus to avoid adverse spill-over effects.

Global policies call for connecting protected areas (PAs) to conserve the flow of animals and genes across changing landscapes, yet whether global PA networks currently support animal movement—and where connectivity conservation is most critical—remain largely unknown. In this study, we map the functional connectivity of the world’s terrestrial PAs and quantify national PA connectivity through the lens of moving mammals. We find that mitigating the human footprint may improve connectivity more than adding new PAs, although both strategies together maximize benefits. The most globally important areas of concentrated mammal movement remain unprotected, with 71% of these overlapping with global biodiversity priority areas and 6% occurring on land with moderate to high human modification. Conservation and restoration of critical connectivity areas could safeguard PA connectivity while supporting other global conservation priorities.

There is an urgent need to halt and reverse loss of mangroves and seagrass to protect and increase the ecosystem services they provide to coastal communities, such as enhancing coastal resilience and contributing to climate stability.1,2Ambitious targets for their recovery can inspire public and private investment in conservation,3 but the expected outcomes of different protection and restoration strategies are unclear. We estimated potential recovery of mangroves and seagrass through gains in ecosystem extent to the year 2070 under a range of protection and restoration strategies implemented until the year 2050. Under a protection-only scenario, the current trajectories of net mangrove loss slowed, and a minor net gain in global seagrass extent (∼1%) was estimated. Protection alone is therefore unlikely to drive sufficient recovery. However, if action is taken to both protect and restore, net gains of up to 5% and 35% of mangroves and seagrasses, respectively, could be achieved by 2050. Further, protection and restoration can be complementary, as protection prevents losses that would otherwise occur post-2050, highlighting the importance of implementing protection measures. Our findings provide the scientific evidence required for setting strategic and ambitious targets to inspire significant global investment and effort in mangrove and seagrass conservation.

The Amazon Basin features a vast network of healthy, free-flowing rivers, which provides habitat for the most biodiverse freshwater fauna of any basin globally. However, existing and future infrastructure developments, including dams, threaten its integrity by diminishing river connectivity, altering flows, or changing sediment regimes, which can impact freshwater species. In this study, we assess critical rivers that need to be maintained as freshwater connectivity corridors (FCCs) for selective freshwater species—long-distance migratory fishes and turtles (both with migrations >500 km) and river dolphins. We define FCCs as river stretches of uninterrupted river connectivity that provide important riverine and floodplain habitat for long-distance migratory and other species and that maintain associated ecosystem functions. We assessed more than 340,000 km of river, beginning with an assessment of the connectivity status of all rivers and then combining river status with models of occurrence of key species to map where FCCs occur and how they could be affected under a scenario of proposed dams. We identified that in 2019, 16 of 26 very long (>1000 km) rivers are free-flowing but only 9 would remain free-flowing if all proposed dams are built. Among long and very long rivers (>500 km), 93 are considered FCCs. Under the future scenario, one-fifth (18) of these long and very long FCCs—those that are of critical importance for long-distance migrants and dolphins—would lose their FCC status, including the Amazon, the Negro, Marañón, Napo, Ucayali, Preto do Igapó Açu, Beni, and Uraricoera rivers. To avoid impacts of poorly sited infrastructure, we advocate for energy and water resources planning at the basin scale that evaluates alternative development options and limits development that will impact on FCCs. The results also highlight where corridors could be designated as protected from future fragmentation.

Sustaining the organisms, ecosystems and processes that underpin human wellbeing is necessary to achieve sustainable development. Here we define critical natural assets as the natural and semi-natural ecosystems that provide 90% of the total current magnitude of 14 types of nature's contributions to people (NCP), and we map the global locations of these critical natural assets at 2 km resolution. Critical natural assets for maintaining local-scale NCP (12 of the 14 NCP) account for 30% of total global land area and 24% of national territorial waters, while 44% of land area is required to maintain two global-scale NCP (carbon storage and moisture recycling). These areas overlap substantially with cultural diversity (areas containing 96% of global languages) and biodiversity (covering area requirements for 73% of birds and 66% of mammals). At least 87% of the world's population live in the areas benefitting from critical natural assets for local-scale NCP, while only 16% live on the lands containing these assets. Many of the NCP mapped here are left out of international agreements focused on conserving species or mitigating climate change, yet this analysis shows that explicitly prioritizing critical natural assets and the NCP they provide could simultaneously advance development, climate and conservation goals.

There has been a seismic shift in the center of gravity of scientific writing and thinking about agriculture over the past decades, from a prevailing focus on maximizing yields toward a goal of balancing trade-offs and ensuring the delivery of multiple ecosystem services. Maximizing crop yields often results in a system where most benefits accrue to very few (in the form of profits), alongside irreparable environmental harm to agricultural ecosystems, landscapes, and people. Here, we present evidence that an un-yielding, which we define as de-emphasizing the importance of yields alone, is necessary to achieve the goal of a more Food secure, Agrobiodiverse, Regenerative, Equitable and just (FARE) agriculture. Focusing on yields places the emphasis on one particular outcome of agriculture, which is only an intermediate means to the true endpoint of human well-being. Using yields as a placeholder for this outcome ignores the many other benefits of agriculture that people also care about, like health, livelihoods, and a sense of place. Shifting the emphasis to these multiple benefits rather than merely yields, and to their equitable delivery to all people, we find clear scientific evidence of win-wins for people and nature through four strategies that foster FARE agriculture: reduced disturbance, systems reintegration, diversity, and justice (in the form of securing rights to land and other resources). Through a broad review of the current state of agriculture, desired futures, and the possible pathways to reach them, we argue that while trade-offs between some ecosystem services in agriculture are unavoidable, the same need not be true of the end benefits we desire from them.

The Hudson Bay Lowlands (HBL) is a vast contiguous peatland extending over >370,000 km2 in Canada's boreal-subarctic, and is the traditional land of the Omushkego Cree. It is currently undergoing climatic warming alongside other anthropogenic stressors, and contains a large below-ground carbon pool. Understanding how climate variability and multiple stressors impact peat accumulation in this region is critical to discerning how northern peatlands will respond to future climate and land-use changes. Pollen- and macrofossil-based paleoecological reconstructions, and analyses of aluminum (Al) and titanium (Ti) fluxes in a Holocene-aged peat core (VM375) taken from a bog in the Attawapiskat watershed were conducted to link ecosystem changes with hydroclimate and long-term carbon storage. Peat initiation is dated to 5780 cal yr B.P., coincident with land emergence driven by glacial isostatic adjustment. From 4500 to 4200 cal yr B.P., apparent rate of carbon accumulation increased, and was linked to more rapid rates of peat accretion and increases in minerotrophic indicators in the pollen record. This increase in peat accretion and shift in vegetation composition co-occur with higher rates of mineral influx as shown by Ti and Al concentrations, which may have supplied nutrients. A fen to bog transition takes place ~3300 cal yr B.P., with increases in Sphagnum spores and macrofossils, and a decline in the apparent rate of carbon accumulation relative to the earlier half of the record, where paleoecological proxies indicate treed wetland and fen stages. Since peat inception, the total carbon stock of the 260-cm peat column is 110 kg C m−2. This multi-proxy record shows an association between changing peat types and variability in apparent rates of carbon accumulation, and supports the hypothesis that mineral nutrients either supplied by surface hydrology or by eolian deposition played a role in Holocene peat carbon accumulation in eastern North American boreal peatlands.

Multiple fisher groups target billfish species, each with different motivations and experiences, which can influence the effectiveness and sustainability of governance approaches. However, limited studies underscore the perceptions of billfish resource users in defining and implementing governance in the Western Indian Ocean region. We conducted 211 semi-structured qualitative interviews between December 2020 and September 2021, to explore how artisanal fishers perceive the performance and sustainability of governance approaches in Kenya, with a focus on billfish. Our findings show that artisanal fishers have adequate knowledge of fishing laws and regulations, as well as governing institutions and their performance. Further, artisanal fishers had a positive attitude and support for fishing rules, managing institutions, and effectiveness of governance intervention. Specifically, the fishers rated Beach Management Units (BMUs) as highly effective in implementing fisheries rules, indicating the involvement of fishers in co-management of fisheries and tendency for governance success and sustainability. This highlights the need to strengthen and support BMUs as an effective governance tool in the co-management of fisheries. We draw attention to our first-time study of the contribution of artisanal billfish fishers to governance of shared fisheries resources. We show that involvement of resource users promotes a bottom-up approach to the co-management of billfish which compliments the current regional and national efforts that have largely focused on commercial fisheries. Our research adds to the scientific body of knowledge on the importance of perceptions in the formation of natural resource governance interventions at varying scales, especially for transboundary species in data-poor areas.

Coral reefs face an uncertain future under global climate change, with thermal-induced bleaching increasing in frequency such that corals will soon experience annual severe bleaching (ASB). Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are therefore becoming increasingly important as a conservation tool. Here we evaluate (i) Indonesia’s coral reefs’ spatial variation in ASB, (ii) whether reefs projected to have a later onset of ASB (i.e. possible climate refugia) are protected within MPAs, and (iii) the ASB risk profiles for reefs related to MPAs receiving priority investments. Our results highlight considerable variability across Indonesia’s reefs being at risk of ASB. The ASB risk before 2028 is greater for coral reefs protected by MPAs versus those outside MPA boundaries. The ASB risk before 2025 is greater for coral reefs protected by priority MPAs versus those protected by non-priority MPAs. Overall, our results show that only ∼45% of the coral reef areas that are currently located within MPAs will likely act as thermal refugia (ASB > 2044). This is unsurprising given that the MPA network in Indonesia has been established over many decades, with most MPAs designated before suitable bleaching risk projections were available to inform MPA placement. Our results highlight the scope to further incorporate potential climate refugia for reefs into new MPA designations. This study also provides strategic information, which can support the development of Indonesia’s long-term MPA and coral reef conservation strategy to effectively manage, mitigate, and adapt to the impacts of climate change on coral reefs.

The wildlife trade drives biodiversity loss and zoonotic disease emergence, and the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have sparked discussions over stricter regulation of the wildlife trade. Yet regulation for conservation and health purposes is at odds with the economic incentives provided by this multibillion-dollar industry. To understand why the wildlife trade persists despite associated biodiversity and global health threats, we used a benefit–cost approach using simple calculations to compare the economic benefits of the wildlife trade at the individual, national, and global scales to the costs of COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Ebola disease across scenarios of epidemic frequency. For COVID-19, benefits of the wildlife trade outweigh costs at individual scales, but costs far exceed benefits at national and global scales, particularly if epidemics were to become frequent. For SARS and Ebola, benefits outweigh costs at all scales, except if Ebola-like epidemics were to become frequent. The wildlife trade produces net benefits for people who depend on wildlife for food and income but incurs net costs on stakeholders at larger scales from increased epidemic risk. While our analysis omits a variety of costs and benefits that are difficult to quantify and contrast, our analysis is meant to illustrate the distributional outcomes across stakeholder groups that could result from increased wildlife trade regulation. Importantly, the feasibility of trade regulatory policies will depend on how these benefits and costs compare across groups and would therefore need to involve accessible and attractive alternative sources of food and livelihoods for those who depend on the wildlife trade.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are considered the go-to tool for marine area-based conservation, having rapidly expanded in many countries, yet an understanding of progress and achievement in implementation remains vastly unexplored. Here, we assess the status and trends of coverage and protection, ecological conditions, marine resource use, human well-being, and management effectiveness of MPAs in the Sunda Banda Seascape (SBS), Indonesia, and provide the first comprehensive overview of marine conservation in the region. The SBS, located in the world's epicenter for marine biodiversity, has 85 designated MPAs (8.1 million ha) as of 2018, accounting for 35% of the national target of 23.4 million ha MPAs by 2020. Most SBS MPAs were recently initiated or established, and their management was strongly influenced by policy and governance changes at the national and provincial levels. SBS MPAs protect more than 30% of mangrove, seagrass, and coral reefhabitats in the seascape, and surveys indicate relatively healthy coral reef conditions. Fishing is one of the most common livelihoods in the MPA communities; 90% of fishers use traditional gear types for fishing and destructive fishing is identified as the greatest threat to marine resources in the MPAs. Our findings suggest that balancing the expansion of MPAs with strengthening their management effectiveness and integrating diverse social-ecological local contexts are important aspects to achieve effective, equitable marine conservation.

In a marine environment that is rapidly changing due to anthropogenic activities and climate change, area-based management tools are often used to mitigate threats and conserve biodiversity. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are amongst the most widespread and recognized marine conservation tools worldwide, however, MPAs alone are inadequate to address the environmental crisis. The promotion of other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) under draft Target 3 of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, i.e., conserving 30% of marine areas by 2030, holds promise to acknowledge sites and practices occurring beyond MPAs that contribute to conservation. Here, we evaluate the potential recognition of OECMs into Indonesia's national policy framework on marine resource management and provide the first-ever overview of distribution and types of potential marine OECMs in Indonesia, including a review of the existing evidence on conservation effectiveness. We identified > 390 potential marine OECMs, led by government, customary and local communities, or the private sector, towards diverse management objectives, including habitat protection, traditional/customary management, fisheries, tourism, or other purposes. While some evidence exists regarding the conservation effectiveness of these practices, the long-term impacts on biodiversity of all potential marine OECMs in Indonesia are unknown. Many OECM elements have been included in several national policies, yet there are no established mechanisms to identify, recognize and report sites as OECMs in Indonesia. We propose four transformational strategies for future OECM recognition in Indonesia, namely: (i) safeguard customary and traditional communities, (ii) leverage cross-sector and cross-scale collaboration, (iii) focus on delivering outcomes, and (iv) streamline legal frameworks. Our study shows that OECMs have the potential to play a significant role in underpinning marine area-based conservation in Indonesia, including supporting the Government of Indonesia in reaching national and international conservation targets and goals.

Ecotourism helps sustain protected areas (PAs) that in turn conserve Africa's declining fauna. Identifying ecotourist preferences and which species and landscapes benefit from ecotourism could therefore support African biodiversity conservation efforts. Due to historic associations with trophy hunting and subsequent ecotourism marketing efforts, ecotourist preferences have been thought to traditionally center around the ‘Big Five’: elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros. But these preferences may be evolving. Here, we ask two questions, one about the drivers and one about the consequences of ecotourism: (1) Which species and landscapes do ecotourists most prefer based on realized visitation data? And (2), differently, which species and landscapes benefit most from ecotourism? We gathered data on average annual tourist visits, the occurrence of nine mammals, bird species richness, forest cover, national wealth, local human population and accessibility for 164 Sub-Saharan African PAs. To address our first question, we used a Bayesian multivariable model to identify whether bird and megafaunal diversity explain visits to PAs while controlling for other factors. To address our second question, we used Bayesian univariate models to analyze the relationships between park visitation and each species/landscape. We found that tourist preferences extend beyond the Big Five to include bird diversity. We also observed that ecotourism may be well suited to conserve bird diversity, lion, cheetah, black and white rhinoceros, African wild dog and giraffe species. Collectively, our results may help inform how to leverage ecotourism to conserve African fauna.

Widespread, common species continue to decline, disrupting ecosystems and human connections with nature. New strategies to motivate people to protect widespread species are needed. Drawing on a relational values framework, we deploy a discrete choice experiment survey (n = 646) to test whether foregrounding the genetic distinctiveness of local populations and interdependence with humans could motivate conservation of a widespread species (rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss). Genetic/genomic data have long been used to manage endangered species, but have heretofore not been used to motivate public support for conservation of widespread species. Fitting our survey data to a mixed multinomial logit model, we find that when we emphasize participants' interdependent relationships with fish, participants are willing to pay significantly more to support conservation projects that protect genetically distinct populations. These findings suggest a new avenue for using an abundant resource (genetic data) to motivate conservation of widespread species.

Accelerating ecosystem degradation has spurred proposals to vastly expand the extent of protected areas (PAs), potentially affecting the livelihoods and well-being of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) worldwide. The benefits of multiuse PAs that elevate the role of IPLCs in management have long been recognized. However, quantitative examinations of how resource governance and the distribution of management rights affect conservation outcomes are vital for long-term sustainability. Here, we use a long-term, quasi-experimental monitoring dataset from four Indonesian marine PAs that demonstrates that multiuse PAs can increase fish biomass, but incorporating multiple governance principles into management regimes and enforcing rules equitably are critical to achieve ecological benefits. Furthermore, we show that PAs predicated primarily on enforcing penalties can be less effective than those where IPLCs have the capacity to engage in management. Our results suggest that well-governed multiuse PAs can achieve conservation objectives without undermining the rights of IPLCs.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) often have dual goals of protecting biodiversity and increasing sustainability of fisheries. To understand how MPAs are performing at these goals, evaluation of fish biomass outcomes against management targets is needed. However, the evaluation of performance should consider multiple biophysical and social drivers that vary over the seascape to inform spatially explicit targets for fish biomass. Including spatial variation when evaluating MPA performance is particularly important for MPA networks because it enables managers to set more realistic expectations for MPA outcomes and adapt management across individual areas. Here we develop a modelling approach to predict how fishing pressure and biophysical conditions affect expected recovery of fish biomass. We apply the approach to model herbivore and predator biomass at 57 sites for two MPAs in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. We then use this model to predict biomass recovery towards reference sites indicative of low-fishing pressure. We found that historical fishing pressure, wave exposure and proximity to coastal habitats were all important determinants of pre-MPA fish biomass. Our predictions therefore, indicated the implemented MPA no-take zones should have some of the highest reef fish biomass based on both their location within the MPA, and the removal of fishing pressure. We also identify sites that may be underperforming and warrant further management, for instance, further investigation of poaching as a cause of poor recovery trends. We suggest that evaluation of MPA performance needs to consider the link to historical fishing pressure and biophysical conditions with biodiversity outcomes.

Scientists and policymakers are concerned the effects of climate change will give rise to more militarized conflict over ocean fisheries. These concerns are especially high in contested ocean territories like the East and South China Seas. However, the past effects of global climate for militarized fisheries disputes (MFDs) have not been extensively studied. We assess the effect of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), an ocean-atmosphere warming/cooling cycle measured by sea surface temperature(SST) in the Pacific, on the onset of MFDs among East and South China Sea-adjacent countries. We find strong effects, with El Niño associated with a higher probability of MFD onset. We conclude with preliminary conclusions and pathways for future research.

Billfish species (families Istiophoridae and Xiphiidae) are caught in artisanal, recreational, and commercial fisheries throughout the Western Indian Ocean region. However, data and information on the interactions among these fisheries and the ecology of billfish in the WIO are not well understood. Using an in-depth analysis of peer-reviewed articles, grey literature, observation studies, and authors’ insider knowledge, we summarize the current state of knowledge on billfish fisheries in 10 countries. To describe historical and current trends, we examined fisheries statistics from governmental and non-governmental agencies, sportfishing clubs’ reports, diaries of sportfishing captains, and the catch and effort databases of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. We highlight two key points. First, billfish fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean are highly diverse, comprising two distinct segments—coastal and oceanic. However, data are poor for most countries with significant gaps in information especially for sport and artisanal fisheries. Second, the evidence assembled showed that billfish species have immense social, cultural, and economic value. Swordfish are targeted by both large-scale and semi-industrial fisheries, while other billfish species, particularly marlin, are highly sought after by sport fisheries in most countries. Our paper provides a comprehensive review of billfish fisheries and available information in the context of the WIO underscoring the need to strengthen data collection and reporting, citizen science, and collaborative sustainable development and management of billfish.

Owing to only a few decades of human influence and unsustainable management of the Mekong River basin’s natural resources, the Mekong Delta is receding rapidly. Most of the delta landform, home to 17 million people and an economic powerhouse, could slip below sea level by 2100 (1). Avoiding such a catastrophic impact will require concerted actions that acknowledge root causes for land loss and the global importance of the delta landform. Deltas persist and grow if sediment supply from an upstream river basin builds delta land at the same or greater rates than land is submerged by relative sea level rise and erosion. With more rapid sea level rise, more sediment resources are needed to maintain the current extent of the delta. Only improved coordination of governance and investments, informed by science, will provide the delta with those critical resources.

Rivers act as the arteries of the planet, flowing and pulsing across landscapes as they carry vital resources to sustain the health of the Earth. The vast global network of rivers and streams conveys sediments and nutrients to fertile valleys and river deltas, provides habitat corridors and transportation routes, and delivers life-sustaining freshwater to aquatic ecosystems and human populations alike. As surface runoff forms in headwater catchments, drains them as small mountain streams and ultimately accumulates into mighty lowland rivers that discharge into the world’s oceans, waterways both influence and are influenced by the landscapes and ecosystems which they traverse. Understanding and managing surface water resources therefore requires fundamental hydrographic data and associated tools that support mapping and analysis of natural river and catchment characteristics, such as climate, landscape, and soil conditions, as well as anthropogenic influences including water abstractions, pollution, and river fragmentation.

The past few years have been an important time for food systems. Numerous studies (1, 2) have pointed to the sweeping benefits of a global food system transformation, the first ever United Nations Food Systems Summit brought together a broad group to stakeholders to accelerate action on food systems, and global scientific bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (3) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (4), have highlighted the central importance of food systems in achieving global goals. Despite these positive trends at the global level, national-level action on food system transformation has lagged, and the world is off course to meet many global nutrition targets (5), which in turn will also have disastrous consequences for the environment.

Co-designing research is increasingly recognized as a way to advance research that is equitable and inclusive, with greater potential for “real-world” impact. Co-designed research can have numerous benefits, but real challenges can also arise in co-design processes. We provide examples of our experience as collaborators from the Global North and Global South; highlighting both successes and failures with a focus on five thematic areas: funding and associated power dynamics, differences in research culture and training, diverse interests and needs, authorship norms, and the balance of inclusion. Within these themes, we share examples where even with good intent, co-design research went awry as well as good practices and habits we have learned that helped us improve our collaborations. Co-designing research will only work if we continuously challenge existing norms that can undermine these processes. If we as a scientific community can continue to learn from and adapt our co-design efforts, we can create much more collaborative, inclusive, and impactful research.

Landscape scale wetland conservation requires accurate, up-to-date wetland maps. The most useful approaches to creating such maps are automated, spatially generalizable, temporally repeatable, and can be applied at large spatial scales. However, mapping wetlands with predictive models is challenging due to the highly variable characteristics of wetlands in both space and time. Currently, most approaches are limited by coarse resolution, commercial data, and geographic specificity. Here, we trained a deep learning model and evaluated its ability to automatically map wetlands at landscape scale in a variety of geographies. We trained a U-Net architecture to map wetlands at 1-meter spatial resolution with the following remotely sensed covariates: multispectral data from the National Agriculture Imagery Program and the Sentinel-2 satellite system, and two LiDAR-derived datasets, intensity and geomorphons.

The full model mapped wetlands accurately (94 % accuracy, 96.5 % precision, 95.2 % AUC) at 1-meter resolution. Post hoc model evaluation showed that the model correctly predicted wetlands even in areas that had incorrect label/training data, which penalized the recall rate (90.2 %). Applying the model in a new geography resulted in poor performance (precision = ~80 %, recall = 48 %). However, limited retraining in this geography improved model performance substantially, demonstrating an effective means to create a spatially generalizable model. We demonstrate wetlands can be mapped at high-resolution (1 m) using free data and efficient deep-learning models that do not require manual feature engineering. Including LiDAR and geomorphons as input data improved model accuracy by 2 %, and where these data are unavailable a simpler model can efficiently map wetlands. Given the dynamic nature of wetlands and the important ecosystem services they provide, high-resolution mapping can be a game changer in terms of informing restoration and development decisions.

Forest restoration is receiving increased attention from many public and private actors, but few large-scale experiences exist. We explored 10 cases where forest cover had either increased or stabilized or where there was a significant drive towards forest expansion to understand which factors can facilitate the scaling up of forest restoration. We developed a data collection checklist to search the literature and we interviewed key informants. Our analysis identified 15 motivating factors for forest restoration, including the desire to mitigate land degradation, droughts or floods or to contribute to biodiversity conservation. We also identified some factors that facilitate the implementation of forest restoration, such as a supportive policy framework that includes forest restoration plans, financial incentives, truly collaborative arrangements, tenure rights to forests, trees and specific goods and services from these, the roles of specialized agencies, external stakeholders, local communities and local authorities. For restoration to be sustained, it is necessary to integrate it into national institutions, ensure sectoral integration across landscapes, ensure diversified and long-term financing and embed it in local institutions.

To more effectively protect biodiversity and promote sustainable development, transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs) aim to enhance wildlife flows across national borders. This is true of the world's largest terrestrial TFCA, the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA), home to half of Africa's savannah elephants that move across five countries in a mixed-use landscape. We used GPS tracking data from >100 collared elephants to evaluate how fences between Namibia and Botswana impact transboundary connectivity in KAZA. For female elephants these fences formed an impenetrable boundary, with no exchange between animals collared in Botswana and those collared in Namibia. Male elephants did cross border fences, although they remained a partial boundary, with 7 of 21 males accounting for most crossings. Our results suggest a review of fence alignment and de-commissioning of some fencing separating Namibia and Botswana, combined with increased support for fence-free interventions that reduce wildlife-livestock interactions, should be considered to meet the objectives of KAZA.

The black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) is a keystone species of North American short- and mixed-grass temperate grasslands with critical importance for multiple species of conservation concern. Low population numbers due to habitat and social constraints as well as disease require conservation and management actions. To identify potential habitat and future relocation sites, we evaluated 6 statistical techniques to predict the optimal resource selection function model for black-tailed prairie dog habitat in 3 Native nations of Montana. Random forest models performed best across our study area and included grass coverage and climatic and topographic variables as the most important predictors of prairie dog occupancy. Using predictive habitat models in conjunction with land-use designations can refine conservation planning to support wildlife population objectives where there are foundations for long-term success. Our analysis also serves as a guide for assessing habitat suitability, connectivity, and restoration for additional species dependent or interconnected with black-tailed prairie dogs.

River floods are already the most damaging disaster type globally, with risk projected to rise in much of the world due to climate change, development in flood-prone areas, and/or deteriorating infrastructure. Nature-based solutions, such as using floodplains to manage floodwaters, can contribute to a diversified portfolio for managing flood risks.

Climate change is predicted to drive various changes in hydrology that can translate into 10 risks for river ecosystems and for those who manage rivers, such as for hydropower. Here we use 11 the WWF Water Risk Filter (WRF) and geospatial analysis to screen hydropower projects, both ex-12 isting (2,488 dams) and projected (3,700 dams), for a variety of risks at a global scale, focusing on 13 biodiversity risks, hydrological risks (water scarcity and flooding), and how those hydrological risks 14 may shift with climate change, based on three scenarios. Approximately 26% of existing hydro-15 power dams and 23% of projected dams are within river basins that currently have medium to very 16 high risk of water scarcity; 32% and 20% of the existing and projected dams, respectively, are pro-17 jected to have increased risk by 2050 due to climate change. For flood risk, 75% of existing dams and 18 83% of projected dams are within river basins with medium to very high risk, and the proportion of 19 hydropower dams in basins with the highest levels of flood risk are projected to increase by nearly 20 twenty times (e.g., from 2% to 36% of dams). In addition, a large proportion of existing (76%) and 21 projected hydropower dams (93%) are located in river basins with high or very high freshwater 22 biodiversity importance. This is a high-level screening, intended to elucidate broad patterns of risk 23 to increase awareness, highlight trends, and guide more detailed study.

The dual mandate for many protected areas (PAs) to simultaneously promote recreation and conserve biodiversity may be hampered by negative effects of recreation on wildlife. However, reports of these effects are not consistent, presenting a knowledge gap that hinders evidence-based decision-making. We used camera traps to monitor human activity and terrestrial mammals in Golden Ears Provincial Park and the adjacent University of British Columbia Malcolm Knapp Research Forest near Vancouver, Canada, with the objective of discerning relative effects of various forms of recreation on cougars (Puma concolor), black bears (Ursus americanus), black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus), snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus), coyotes (Canis latrans), and bobcats (Lynx rufus). Additionally, public closures of the study area associated with the COVD-19 pandemic offered an unprecedented period of human-exclusion through which to explore these effects. Using Bayesian generalized mixed-effects models, we detected negative effects of hikers (mean posterior estimate = −0.58, 95% credible interval [CI] −1.09 to −0.12) on weekly bobcat habitat use and negative effects of motorized vehicles (estimate = −0.28, 95% CI −0.61 to −0.05) on weekly black bear habitat use. We also found increased cougar detection rates in the PA during the COVID-19 closure (estimate = 0.007, 95% CI 0.005 to 0.009), but decreased cougar detection rates (estimate = −0.006, 95% CI −0.009 to −0.003) and increased black-tailed deer detection rates (estimate = 0.014, 95% CI 0.002 to 0.026) upon reopening of the PA. Our results emphasize that effects of human activity on wildlife habitat use and movement may be species- and/or activity-dependent, and that camera traps can be an invaluable tool for monitoring both wildlife and human activity, collecting data even when public access is barred. Further, we encourage PA managers seeking to promote both biodiversity conservation and recreation to explicitly assess trade-offs between these two goals in their PAs.

Surface water in arid regions is essential to many organisms including large mammals of conservation concern. For many regions little is known about the extent, ecology and hydrology of ephemeral waters, because they are challenging to map given their ephemeral nature and small sizes. Our goal was to advance surface water knowledge by mapping and monitoring ephemeral water from the wet to dry seasons across the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area of southern Africa (300 000 km2). We mapped individual waterholes for six time points each year from mid-2017 to mid-2020, and described their presence, extent, duration, variability, and recurrence. We further analyzed a wide range of physical and landscape aspects of waterhole locations, including soils, geology, and topography, to climate and soil moisture. We identified 2.1 million previously unmapped ephemeral waterholes (85%–89% accuracy) that seasonally extend across 23.5% of the study area. We confirmed a distinct 'blue wave' with ephemeral water across the region peaking at the end of the rainy season. We observed a wide range of waterhole types and sizes, with large variances in seasonal and interannual hydrology. We found that ephemeral surface water was associated with loam soils in the study area. From the wettest time period to the driest, there was a ∼44 000 km2 (62%) decrease in ephemeral water extent across the region—these dramatic seasonal fluctuations have implications for wildlife movement. A warmer and drier climate, expected human population growth, and associated agricultural expansion and development may threaten these sensitive and highly variable water resources and the wildlife that depend on them.

Conventional flood control has emphasized structural measures such as levees, reservoirs, and engineered channels—measures that typically simplify river channels and cut them off from their floodplain, both with adverse environmental consequences. Structural measures tend to be rigid and not easily adapted to increased flooding regimes resulting from environmental change. Such actions also limit the natural hydrologic benefits of floodplains such as storing floodwaters, improving water quality, providing habitat for invertebrates and fish during periods of inundation, and supporting a multitude of cultural services. As these benefits are more widely recognized, policies are being adopted to encourage projects that reduce flood risks and restore floodplain ecosystems, while acknowledging the social-ecological context. The number of such projects, however, remains small. We assessed four multi-benefit floodplain projects (two in California, United States, and two in Germany) and characterized their drivers, history, and measures implemented. In both United States cases, the dominant driver behind the project was flood risk reduction, and ecosystem restoration followed, in one case inadvertently, in the other as a requirement to receive a subsidy for a flood risk reduction project. One German case was motivated by ecosystem restoration, but it was more widely accepted because it also offered flood management benefits. The fourth case was conceived in terms of balanced goals of flood risk reduction, ecosystem restoration, and recreation. We conclude that projects that both reduce flood risk and restore ecosystems are clearly possible and often cost-effective, and that they could be more widely implemented. The principal barriers are often institutional and regulatory, rather than technical.

Future climate projections of warming, drying, and increased weather variability indicate that conventional agricultural and production practices within the Northern Great Plains (NGP) will become less sustainable, both ecologically and economically. As a result, the livelihoods of people that rely on these lands will be adversely impacted. This is especially true for Native American communities, who were relegated to reservations where the land is often vast but marginal and non-tribal operators have an outsized role in food production. In addition, NGP lands are expected to warm and dry disproportionately relative to the rest of the United States. It is therefore critical to identify models of sustainable land management that can improve ecological function and socio-economic outcomes for NGP communities, all while increasing resilience to a rapidly changing climate. Efforts led by Native American Nations to restore North American Plains bison (Bison bison bison) to tribal lands can bring desired socio-ecological benefits to underserved communities while improving their capacity to influence the health of their lands, their people, and their livelihoods. Ecological sustainability will depend on the restoration of bison herds and bison’s ability to serve as ecosystem engineers of North America’s Plains. The historically broad distribution of bison suggests they can adapt to a variety of conditions, making them resilient to a wide range of management systems and climates. Here we review bison’s ecological, cultural, and economic value using four case studies from tribal communities within the NGP. We discuss the potential contributions of bison to food sovereignty, sustainable economies, and conservation of a working landscape with limited protections and significant risk of conversion. The ecological role of bison within this setting has potential due to cultural acceptance and the vast availability of suitable lands; however, it is critical to address tribal needs for funding support, enhanced community capacity, and solving complex landownership for these goals to be achieved.

Background and aim

Billfish are epipelagic marine predators facing increasing pressures such as overfishing and rising global temperatures. Overfishing is a major concern, as they are caught by industrial longline fishers targeting tuna. Billfish are targeted by multiple fishing sectors, which provides food, socio-economic and cultural benefits. To support effective billfish management and conservation, it is essential to understand their spatial distribution and the environmental factors that may influence it.


The focus of this study is the Indian Ocean (IO), where there are gaps in understanding the interactions between fisheries and billfish distribution. Three of six billfish species are at risk from overfishing. Therefore, determining their distribution is crucial to their management and conservation.


Using Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) occurrence data, Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) catch data, and environmental covariates, we applied species distribution models to investigate the spatial extent of the realized niches of six billfish species in the IO. We also determined the role and relative importance of environmental drivers. Moreover, we evaluated the association between species’ spatial distribution and the fishing effort distribution.


We found niche partitioning and overlap among the six species identified spatial distribution, with higher species richness in the northern region of the IO and off the East coast of Africa. Temperature, mixed layer depth and salinity were identified as the most important predictors of species distribution, with moderately warm and stable environments preferred by most billfish species. Areas with high species richness and high fishing effort overlap were primarily found in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ). In contrast, areas with high species diversity richness and low fishing effort were found mainly in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Main conclusion

Spatial overlap between fishing effort and billfish projected distribution suggests inadvertent fishing pressure on billfish populations as they are caught together with targeted tuna. Spatial distribution transcends maritime zones, reinforcing a need to formulate effective management policies for marine areas beyond national jurisdictions.

Social-ecological systems underpinning nature-based solutions (NbS) must be resilient to changing conditions if NbS are to contribute to long-term climate change adaptation. We develop a two-part conceptual framework linking social-ecological resilience to adaptation outcomes in NbS. Part one determines the potential of NbS to support resilience based on assessing whether NbS affect key mechanisms known to enable resilience. Examples include social-ecological diversity, connectivity, and inclusive decision-making. Part two includes adaptation outcomes that building social-ecological resilience can sustain, known as nature's contributions toadaptation (NCAs). We apply the framework to a global dataset of NbS in forests. We find evidence that NbS may be supporting resilience by influencing many enabling mechanisms. NbS also deliver many NCAs such as flood and drought mitigation. However, there is less evidence for some mechanisms and NCAs critical for resilience to long-term uncertainty. We present future research questions to better understand how NbS can continue to support social-ecological systems in a changing world.

  1. Shark catches are common in small-scale (artisanal) and recreational fisheries; the magnitudes of these catches remain poorly known and understudied, particularly in developing countries. Data from three sources were used to assess the composition of shark landings in these fisheries in Kenya: boat-based recreational fishery tagging 1987–2016; observed landings from the Bycatch Assessment and Mitigation in the Western Indian Ocean Fisheries Project 2016–2017; and Catch Assessment Surveys landings data 2017–2020.
  2. Eighteen species were identified among 1,215 sharks recorded in small-scale fisheries between June 2016 and June 2017. Most of them belonged to the families Carcharhinidae (26%), Triakidae (23%) and Sphyrnidae (14%). Longlines (41%), drift gillnets (30%) and bottom-set gillnets (21%) recorded the highest proportions of catches.
  3. A total of 501 sharks comprising 16 species were recorded in the recreational tagging data between 1987 and 2016, caught using either trolling lines or rods and reels. The families Carcharhinidae (56%) and Sphyrnidae (12%) represented the highest proportion of the catch.
  4. A generalized linear model was used to assess the effect of year, gear type, season and vessel propulsion mode on the variation in catches of sharks in small-scale fisheries between 2017 and 2020. Catches were significantly higher in 2017 with high catch rates observed in longlines and handlines.
  5. Findings from this study highlight the importance of citizen science by recreational fishers in increasing awareness around the risks and threats to shark populations. Strengthening of existing monitoring of shark interactions with small-scale and recreational fisheries is important alongside the implementation of appropriate conservation and management measures such as reductions in fishing effort (e.g. prawn trawling) in nursery areas, prohibiting the capture of CITES-protected species, and enforcing catch-and-release practices by sport fishers to ensure the long-term sustainability of both the affected shark species and the livelihoods of the fishers.

As marine spatial planning (MSP) continues to gain global prominence as an approach to ocean governance, planners and other stakeholders are eager to evaluate its social and ecological outcomes and to better understand whether plans are achieving their intended results in an equitable and cost-efficient manner. While a plan’s outcomes for marine environments and coastal communities may be of particular interest, these results cannot be separated from planning processes. The field has yet to fully develop the guidance necessary for this critical consideration of how features of an MSP process and external factors interact with plan performance and outcomes. To fill this gap we used a literature review and expert discussions to identify 19 enabling or disabling conditions of MSP within four major categories: Plan Attributes, Legal Context, Plan Development and Social Context, and Integration. We propose semi-quantitative scoring and the development of narratives to operationalize the framework as part of a comprehensive methodology for MSP outcome evaluation. Applying the framework can add depth to quantitative MSP evaluation, shed light on questions of outcome attribution, and inform plan adaptation. Evaluating MSP outcomes in the explicit context of the enabling or disabling conditions identified here can stimulate discussion around what works in MSP and provide a path forward for assessing the benefits and costs of MSP worldwide. By identifying conditions instrumental to effective MSP, and alternatively, conditions hindering a plan, the framework can be used to guide plan adaptation and promote learning across the wider MSP community.


The growth of the global and domestic trade in agricultural and forest (primarily timber) commodities over the past decade has driven an expansion of their production, a significant portion of which takes place in tropical lands. This is leading to a significant increase in environmental impacts that are linked to deforestation and forest fragmentation, biodiversity loss and rising carbon emissions. Negative social impacts are also increasing; they include threats to local food and nutrition security, and to the tenure rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Positive impacts include support for the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers who depend on commodity crops

Despite increasing recognition of the need for more diverse and equitable representation in the sciences, it is unclear whether measurable progress has been made. Here, we examine trends in authorship in coral reef science from 1,677 articles published over the past 16 years (2003-2018) and find that while representation of authors that are women (from 18% to 33%) and from non-OECD nations (from 4% to 13%) have increased over time, progress is slow in achieving more equitable representation. For example, it would take over two decades at the current rate, for female representation to reach 50%, and even slower for non-OECD countries considering change is happening at a slower pace, and equitable representation would likely be higher given there are more coral reef non-OECD countries. . OECD nations also continue to dominate authorship contributions in coral reef science (89%), in research conducted in both OECD (63%) and non-OECD nations (68%). We identify systemic issues that remain prevalent in coral reef science (i.e. parachute science, gender bias) that likely contribute to observed trends. We provide recommendations to address systemic biases in research to foster a more inclusive global science community. Adoption of these recommendations will lead to more creative, innovative, and impactful scientific approaches urgently needed for coral reefs and contribute to environmental justice efforts.

Production rate of oil palm has been increased in Indonesia to meet the high demand of products. In response, companies and smallholders have improved their production through expansions. In 2018, plantation occupied a land mass of 3.4 million hectares, leading to environmental, social, and economic problems. The aims of study were to analyze the rationality responsible for the encroachment chaos in forest areas, to analyze the correlation between readiness to implement ISPO and the logic responsible for smallholders’ classification, and to analyze related issues in ISPO implementation. Survey method with questionnaires was used on plasma smallholders managing independent plantations in two villages at East Kalimantan. The results showed rules guiding forest encroachment cover the activities of Smallholders with effective and substantive rationality. However, many of them are not ready to implement ISPO certification because their marketing activities are controlled by middlemen. Therefore, forest area encroachment will remain and ISPO certification will be difficult to implement.

As human activities on the world’s oceans intensify, mapping human pressureis essential to develop appropriate conservation strategies and prioritize invest-ments with limited resources. Here, we map six human (nonclimatic) pressureson coral reefs using the latest quantitative data on fishing, water pollution (nitro-gen and sediments), coastal population, industrial development, and tourism.Using a percentile approach to rank different stressors, we identify the top-ranked local pressure and estimate a cumulative pressure index for 54,596 globalcoral reef pixels at 0.05◦(∼5 km) resolution. We find that coral reefs are exposedto multiple intense local pressures: fishing and water pollution (nutrients andsediments) are the most common top-ranked pressures worldwide (in 30.8% and32.3% of reef cells, respectively), although each pressure was ranked as a toppressure in some locations. We also find that local pressures are similar insideand outside a proposed global portfolio of coral reef climate refugia, suggestingthat even potential climate refugia have high levels of local human pressure thatrequire effective management. Our findings and datasets provide the best avail-able information that can ensure local pressures are effectively managed acrossthe world’s coral reefs.

Substantial efforts and investments are being made to increase the scale and improve the effectiveness of marine conservation globally. Though it is mandated by international law and central to conservation policy, less attention has been given to how to operationalize social equity in and through the pursuit of marine conservation. In this article, we aim to bring greater attention to this topic through reviewing how social equity can be better integrated in marine conservation policy and practice. Advancing social equity in marine conservation requires directing attention to: recognition through acknowledgment and respect for diverse peoples and perspectives; fair distribution of impacts through maximizing benefits and minimizing burdens; procedures through fostering participation in decision-making and good governance; management through championing and supporting local involvement and leadership; the environment through ensuring the efficacy of conservation actions and adequacy of management to ensure benefits to nature and people; and the structural barriers to and institutional roots of inequity in conservation. We then discuss the role of various conservation organizations in advancing social equity in marine conservation and identify the capacities these organizations need to build. We urge the marine conservation community, including governments, non-governmental organizations and donors, to commit to the pursuit of socially equitable conservation.

Assessing global progress on human adaptation to climate change is an urgent priority. Although the literature on adaptation to climate change is rapidly expanding, little is known about the actual extent of implementation. We systematically screened >48,000 articles using machine learning methods and a global network of 126 researchers. Our synthesis of the resulting 1,682 articles presents a systematic and comprehensive global stocktake of implemented human adaptation to climate change. Documented adaptations were largely fragmented, local and incremental, with limited evidence of transformational adaptation and negligible evidence of risk reduction outcomes. We identify eight priorities for global adaptation research: assess the effectiveness of adaptation responses, enhance the understanding of limits to adaptation, enable individuals and civil society to adapt, include missing places, scholars and scholarship, understand private sector responses, improve methods for synthesizing different forms of evidence, assess the adaptation at different temperature thresholds, and improve the inclusion of timescale and the dynamics of responses.

The global recognition of modern agricultural practices' impact on the environment has fuelled policy responses to ameliorate environmental degradation in agricultural landscapes. In the US and the EU, agri-environmental subsidies (AES) promote widespread adoption of sustainable practices by compensating farmers who voluntarily implement them on working farmland. Previous studies, however, have suggested limitations of their spatial targeting, with funds not allocated towards areas of the greatest environmental need. We analysed AES in the US and EU –specifically through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and selected measures of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)– to identify if AES are going where they are most needed to achieve environmental goals, using a set of environmental need indicators, socio-economic variables moderating allocation patterns, and contextual variables describing agricultural systems. Using linear mixed models and linear models we explored the associations among AES allocation and these predictors at different scales. We found that higher AES spending was associated with areas of low soil organic carbon and high greenhouse gas emissions both in the US and EU, and nitrogen surplus in the EU. More so than successes, however, clear mismatches of funding and environmental need emerged – AES allocation did not successfully target areas of highest water stress, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and nutrient runoff. Socio-economic and agricultural context variables may explain some of these mismatches; we show that AES were allocated to areas with higher proportions of female producers in the EU but not in the US, where funds were directed towards areas with less tenant farmers. Moreover, we suggest that the potential for AES to remediate environmental issues may be curtailed by limited participation in intensive agricultural landscapes. These findings can help inform refinements to EQIP and EAFRD allocation mechanisms and identify opportunities for improving future targeting of AES spending.

Globally, shrimp farms occupied an estimated 3.490 million hectares (Mha) of land and operated 2.426 Mha of production ponds in 2018. Extensive shrimp farms used 1.804 Mha of farm area (1.377 Mha of production ponds), but produced 11.4% of global shrimp production. An estimated 1.718 Mha of land was required to produce ingredients for feeds used in semi-intensive and intensive shrimp farming, bringing total land use to 5.160 Mha. Extensive production is located in the intertidal zone and much of this land formerly was or still is in mangrove areas. Expansion of shrimp farms into mangrove areas has slowed. Mangrove areas are inferior sites for shrimp farms, and governments have imposed stricter regulations to protect mangroves. Shrimp farming in mangrove areas is unnecessary to supply the global shrimp demand. Scenarios for increasing global shrimp production without further increase in shrimp farm area are presented. But, if the demand for shrimp continues to increase, it will be impossible to freeze the total land footprint for farmed shrimp, because the land needed for feed presently is roughly equal to the direct land use for shrimp farms. Direct land use for farms can be frozen through greater production pond yields.

The purpose of this study was to assess the amounts of land, water, energy in fuels, and wild fish for fishmeal and fish oil in feeds required per tonne of harvested, farmed shrimp in five countries producing most of the shrimp destined for the international market. Land use for whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei production differed slightly between Indonesia (0.37 ha/t shrimp) and the other four, major shrimp exporting countries – Ecuador, India, Thailand, and Vietnam (0.42–0.46 ha/t shrimp). Total water use was greater in Ecuador (76,800 m3/t) and Indonesia (55,000 m3/t) than in the other three countries (14,000–45,500 m3/t), but most water was saline. Freshwater use was mainly embodied in feed, did not differ among countries, and averaged 6.3% of total water use. Energy use ranged from 56.0 GJ/t (Ecuador) to 98.8 GJ/t (Thailand). All Asian countries had energy use above 75 GJ/t. Wild fish use for fishmeal and fish oil in feeds was greatest in Ecuador (0.891 t/t) and similar in Asian countries (0.612–0.670 t/t). In terms of edible crude protein, whiteleg shrimp was similar to broiler chickens, but more efficient than pigs and beef cattle in land and freshwater use, but greater in energy use than were the three terrestrial meat sources. Compared to L. vannamei, black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon required more land, a greater amount of water, but less energy per tonne of shrimp. Although comparatively small differences in average uses of these primary resources were found among countries, the large variation which was noted among farms in each country suggests that resource use could be improved considerably.

Limited time and resources remain to constrain the climate crisis. Natural climate solutions represent promising options for protecting, managing and restoring natural lands for additional climate mitigation, but they differ in (1) magnitude and (2) immediacy of mitigation potential, as well as (3) cost-effectiveness and (4) the co-benefits they offer. Counter to an emerging preference for restoration, we use these four criteria to propose a general rule-of-thumb to first protect, manage, and then restore lands, but also show how these criteria explain alternative prioritization and portfolio schemes. This hierarchy offers a decision-making framework for public and private sector actors to optimize the effectiveness of natural climate solutions in an environment where resources are constrained, and time is short.

Integrating climate risk information into resilience-building activities in the field is important to ensure that adaptation is based on the best available science. Despite this, many challenges exist when developing, communicating, and incorporating climate risk information. There are limited resources on how stakeholders perceive risks, use risk information, and what barriers exist to limit knowledge integration. This paper seeks to define: 1) What do conservation stakeholders consider to be the most significant climate risks they face now and possibly in the future?; 2) What have been the most significant barriers to their using climate risk information?; and 3) What sources and types of knowledge would be most useful for these managers to overcome these barriers? A survey was conducted amongst stakeholders (n=224) associated with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) projects in tropical and subtropical countries. A very high proportion of stakeholders used climate risk information and yet faced integration-related challenges, which included too much uncertainty and not at a relevant scale for planning. The main factors preventing the use of climate risk information in decision-making were unavailability of climate risk information, no or limited financial or human resources available to respond, lack of organizational mandate or support, and no or limited institutional incentives. Comparing perceived current and future risks revealed a decline in concern for some future climate hazards. Survey respondents identified scientific reports, climate scientists and online sources as the most useful information sources of climate risk information, whilst (i) maps and illustrations, (ii) scenarios format and (iii) data tables, graphs and charts were identified as user-friendly formats.

The expansion of oil palm plantation has caused adverse impacts on the ecosystem. It has been associated with deforestation, biodiversity loss, disturbances to environmental services and livelihood change. The government of Indonesia has made an effort to control the negative effects by issuing relevant policies. One of the policies is Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO)’s sustainability standards to which large-scale plantations and smallholders are obliged to adhere. This study assesses the readiness of two types of smallholders, namely, the nucleus–plasma scheme and independent smallholders to adopt ISPO standards. Using a case study research approach in two oil palm plantation villages in East Kalimantan, the study found out a number of ISPO implementation challenges, grouped into structural and socio-cultural challenges, which make smallholders less ready to adhere to this mandatory policy. Coping with these challenges, this study proposed that land and business legality programs be expedited to strengthen property rights, and that training and education programs be intensified to enhance awareness, knowledge and capacity of smallholders to enable them to comply with sustainability standards.

Several studies have estimated global inputs of plastic into the environment, relying on national statistics and modeling approaches. However, these estimates exhibit uncertainty driven by limited primary municipal solid waste management data. We compare mismanaged plastic estimates from three global studies (Jambeck et al. (2015), Lebreton and Andrady (2019), and Borrelle et al. (2020)), finding significant differences. Specifically, 58 countries show at least a 25 percentage point difference in estimated mismanagement rates, 27 countries show at least a 50 percentage point difference, and 9 countries show at least a 75 percentage point difference. Further, several top plastic generators exhibit large discrepancies in mismanagement estimates, including China, Russia, and Indonesia. The limitations of global plastic pollution estimates are well-known in the scientific community, and some variation is expected. However, these discrepancies limit policy design and mitigation. Thus, municipal, national, and international monitoring of plastic management and pollution must be improved.

Archaeological and paleoecological evidence shows that by 10,000 BCE, all human societies employed varying degrees of ecologically transformative land use practices, including burning, hunting, species propagation, domestication, cultivation, and others that have left long-term legacies across the terrestrial biosphere. Yet, a lingering paradigm among natural scientists, conservationists, and policymakers is that human transformation of terrestrial nature is mostly recent and inherently destructive. Here, we use the most up-to-date, spatially explicit global reconstruction of historical human populations and land use to show that this paradigm is likely wrong. Even 12,000 y ago, nearly three quarters of Earth’s land was inhabited and therefore shaped by human societies, including more than 95% of temperate and 90% of tropical woodlands. Lands now characterized as “natural,” “intact,” and “wild” generally exhibit long histories of use, as do protected areas and Indigenous lands, and current global patterns of vertebrate species richness and key biodiversity areas are more strongly associated with past patterns of land use than with present ones in regional landscapes now characterized as natural. The current biodiversity crisis can seldom be explained by the loss of uninhabited wildlands, resulting instead from the appropriation, colonization, and intensifying use of the biodiverse cultural landscapes long shaped and sustained by prior societies. Recognizing this deep cultural connection with biodiversity will therefore be essential to resolve the crisis.

Food systems that support healthy diets in sustainable, resilient, just, and equitable ways can engender progress in eradicating poverty and malnutrition; protecting human rights; and restoring natural resources. Food system activities have contributed to great gains for humanity but have also led to significant challenges, including hunger, poor diet quality, inequity, and threats to nature. While it is recognized that food systems are central to multiple global commitments and goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals, current trajectories are not aligned to meet these objectives. As mounting crises further stress food systems, the consequences of inaction are clear. The goal of food system transformation is to generate a future where all people have access to healthy diets, which are produced in sustainable and resilient ways that restore nature and deliver just, equitable livelihoods.

A rigorous, science-based monitoring framework can support evidence-based policymaking and the work of those who hold key actors accountable in this transformation process. Monitoring can illustrate current performance, facilitate comparisons across geographies and over time, and track progress. We propose a framework centered around five thematic areas related to (1) diets, nutrition, and health; (2) environment and climate; and (3) livelihoods, poverty, and equity; (4) governance; and (5) resilience and sustainability. We hope to call attention to the need to monitor food systems globally to inform decisions and support accountability for better governance of food systems as part of the transformation process. Transformation is possible in the next decade, but rigorous evidence is needed in the countdown to the 2030 SDG global goals.

Multiuse marine protected areas (MPAs) that utilize a mosaic of no-take and sustainable use zones are an increasingly common tool for promoting fish population recovery while minimizing socioeconomic conflict. However, significant gaps remain in our understanding of the effects of multiuse MPAs on reef-fish populations, and how protection from fishing may interact with biophysical gradients to drive ecological outcomes. Here, we examine changes in fish assemblages inside and outside of two multiuse MPAs in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, over the first four to five years after their implementation. We use linear models to assess the impact of protection status, anthropogenic pressure, and biophysical gradients on changes in four biological metrics: abundance, biomass, mean size, and size-spectra. In addition, we use multivariate analyses to assess whether fish assemblages in protected and unprotected reefs diverged after MPA establishment. We find that both fish abundance and biomass were driven equally or more by benthic characteristics than protection status and that these environmental impacts were decoupled from the effects of MPAs. Contrary to expectations, increases in abundance were more pronounced in unprotected reefs, where fish assemblages diverged from protected reefs through an increase of herbivorous parrotfishes (Subfamily Scarinae) likely driven by increased algal production on hard-bottom reef areas. However, mean size and size-spectra improved in sustainable use zones compared to unprotected reefs, demonstrating that non-exclusionary management can provide ecological benefits, especially when combined with nearby no-take areas. Increased mean size was also associated with lower human population sizes, suggesting a strong influence of fishing pressure, which is mediated by MPAs. Our findings suggest that multiuse MPAs can quickly achieve some fisheries management objectives and that these effects are likely to increase over longer timescales. However, biophysical context can have significant impacts on reef-fish assemblages that are distinct from the effects of overlying fisheries management.

Conservation of predators – especially large carnivores and those that potentially pose threats to humans – can be controversial among stakeholders who must coexist with them. What is often overlooked, however, are the direct and indirect ecosystem services and disservices predators provide as a result of consumption of herbivores (“predation services”). We used a theoretical predator–prey–economic model to examine when predators are likely to provide a net service to society, by comparing services/disservices to a predator‐free counterfactual scenario. We found that net predator services were strongly dependent on how per‐capita services and disservices of predators and prey changed with abundance (ie assumed marginal value [MV] functions of service/disservice). We suggest that further empirical research is needed into MVs of services/disservices of wildlife, because transferring net services among locations – a common practice – is problematic unless MV functions are known. Rigorously quantifying services/disservices of predators could improve conservation and management outcomes by increasing effective communication to diverse stakeholders.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are now well established globally as tools for conservation, for enhancing marine biodiversity, and for promoting sustainable fisheries. That said, which regions are labeled as MPAs varies substantially, from those that full protect marine species and prohibit human extraction to those that permit everything from intensive fishing to mining. This inconsistency can in some cases inhibit both conservation and quantifying the proportion of the marine environment that is truly protected. Grorud-Colvert et al. review the consistency of MPAs and propose a framework by which levels of protection can be evaluated and improved.

An extensive set of policies, programmes, technologies and strategies have been implemented in the forest sector. Collectively, these ‘levers’ cover a diverse range of approaches, at a variety of scales and are governed by many different stakeholders. It is important for decision-makers to understand which levers might be most useful in achieving poverty alleviation. This paper seeks to answer the question: which forest management policies, programmes, technologies and strategies have been effective at alleviating poverty? We studied 21 different rights-based, regulatory, market and supply chain, and forest and tree management levers for which we could identify a plausible theory of change of how implementation of that lever might alleviate poverty. For every lever we: define and describe the lever; describe the logic or theory of change by which the lever might plausibly be expected to alleviate poverty; summarize the available evidence showing how the lever has alleviated poverty; and discuss the variables that explain heterogeneity in outcomes. Overall, we found limited evidence of these levers being associated with reducing poverty (i.e. moving people out of poverty). Some of the strongest evidence for poverty reduction came from ecotourism, community forest management, agroforestry and, to a lesser extent, payments for ecosystem services (PES). However, we found substantial, varied and context-dependent evidence of several levers being associated with mitigating poverty (i.e. by improving well-being). A multitude of cases showing positive outcomes for poverty mitigation came from community forest management, forest producer organisations, small and medium forest enterprises, PES, and tree crop contract production. A combination of more rigorous and long-term research designs, along with examinations of the cost-effectiveness of different levers, would go a long way to contributing to the design of effective interventions for poverty alleviation.

  1. Freshwater biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. Freshwater conservationists and environmental managers have enough evidence to demonstrate that action must not be delayed but have insufficient evidence to identify those actions that will be most effective in reversing the current trend.
  2. Here, the focus is on identifying essential research topics that, if addressed, will contribute directly to restoring freshwater biodiversity through supporting ‘bending the curve’ actions (i.e. those actions leading to the recovery of freshwater biodiversity, not simply deceleration of the current downward trend).
  3. The global freshwater research and management community was asked to identify unanswered research questions that could address knowledge gaps and barriers associated with ‘bending the curve’ actions. The resulting list was refined into six themes and 25 questions.
  4. Although context-dependent and potentially limited in global reach, six overarching themes were identified: (i) learning from successes and failures; (ii) improving current practices; (iii) balancing resource needs; (iv) rethinking built environments; (v) reforming policy and investments; and (vi) enabling transformative change.
  5. Bold, efficient, science-based actions are necessary to reverse biodiversity loss. We believe that conservation actions will be most effective when supported by sound evidence, and that research and action must complement one another. These questions are intended to guide global freshwater researchers and conservation practitioners, identify key projects and signal research needs to funders and governments. Our questions can act as springboards for multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaborations that will improve the management and restoration of freshwater biodiversity.

The fragmentation of free-flowing rivers (FFRs) through major infrastructure development remains a pivotal threat to global freshwater biodiversity. More than 3400 large hydropower dams (>1 MW) are either planned or under construction, posing threats to freshwater megafauna (i.e., freshwater animals that can reach 30 kg). Here, we investigate the global patterns of river connectivity within distribution ranges of freshwater megafauna and explore how these patterns could change in the future. We found that the susceptibility of freshwater megafauna to reduced river connectivity in different dimensions depends on their life history. Freshwater megafauna taxa with a short accumulated length or low percentage of FFRs in their distribution ranges are more likely to be threatened. On average, there is higher freshwater megafauna richness in FFRs with proposed dams than in rivers that would remain free-flowing in the future or that are already fragmented. If all the proposed dams were built, 94 (18.9%) out of 497 remaining FFRs >500 km that provide habitat for freshwater megafauna would lose their free-flowing status. Our results highlight the reduced connectivity of rivers currently inhabited by freshwater megafauna and the future intensification of river fragmentation in megafauna-rich basins. Research and conservation efforts, including life-history studies, identification of critical habitats, updates of IUCN Red List assessments, advanced communication of the potential impacts on ecosystem services and livelihoods of affected communities, and strategic siting, design, and operations of proposed dams are urgently needed to safeguard freshwater megafauna and overall freshwater biodiversity.

In 2018, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a decision on protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). It contains the definition of an OECM and related scientific and technical advice that has broadened the scope of governance authorities and areas that can be engaged and recognised in global conservation efforts. The voluntary guidance on OECMs and protected areas, also included in the decision, promotes the use of diverse, effective and equitable governance models, the integration of protected areas and OECMs into wider landscapes and seascapes, and mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation across sectors. Taken as a whole, the advice and voluntary guidance provides further clarity about the CBD Parties’ understanding of what constitutes equitable and effective area-based conservation measures within and beyond protected areas and provides standardised criteria with which to measure and report areas’ attributes and performance. This policy perspective suggests that this CBD decision represents further evidence of the evolution from the ‘new paradigm for protected areas’ to a broader ‘conserved areas paradigm’ that embodies good governance, equity and effective conservation outcomes and is inclusive of a diversity of contributions to conservation within and beyond protected areas.

Users of marine recreational and artisanal fisheries share a great interest in common resources, driving potential competitive interactions. In the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), limited information exists about these fisheries in particular for billfish species. The importance of billfish as a highly sought-after game fish species in recreational fishing, a source of food and income for artisanal fishers, and their ability to transverse various national jurisdictions as a shared resource make it necessary to evaluate sectoral interactions. Herein, we ask the question: what is the nature of these interactions in Kenyan waters?

We developed criteria for inferring competitive interactions based on time, space, and resource use and using billfish landings data collected through the creel survey, fishery-dependent sampling, and tagging. Results from tag recaptures show that both fishing sectors are capturing the same billfish resource, with a dominance of sailfish landings. We found no significant difference in the average landings between artisanal and recreational sectors, indicating equal demand for the billfish resource in terms of target species, geographic distribution, and seasonality. Therefore, our results suggest competitive interactions between the recreational and artisanal sectors, which have significant implications for management and socio-economic benefits for coastal communities.

Migration of ungulates (hooved mammals) is a fundamental ecological process that promotes abundant herds, whose effects cascade up and down terrestrial food webs. Migratory ungulates provide the prey base that maintains large carnivore and scavenger populations and underpins terrestrial biodiversity (fig. S1). When ungulates move in large aggregations, their hooves, feces, and urine create conditions that facilitate distinct biotic communities. The migrations of ungulates have sustained humans for thousands of years, forming tight cultural links among Indigenous people and local communities. Yet ungulate migrations are disappearing at an alarming rate (1). Efforts by wildlife managers and conservationists are thwarted by a singular challenge: Most ungulate migrations have never been mapped in sufficient detail to guide effective conservation. Without a strategic and collaborative effort, many of the world's great migrations will continue to be truncated, severed, or lost in the coming decades. Fortunately, a combination of animal tracking datasets, historical records, and local and Indigenous knowledge can form the basis for a global atlas of migrations, designed to support conservation action and policy at local, national, and international levels.

  1. This study aimed to develop an integrated analytical framework to identify candidate sites for surface water protection that is applicable at broad scales and in data scarce regions, using Zambia as a case study.
  2. In the Zambian Water Resources Management Act of 2011, Water Resource Protection Areas are defined as areas where special measures are necessary for the protection of a catchment, sub-catchment, aquifer, or geographical area. Three specific selection criteria are listed for the definition of Water Resource Protection Areas: (i) areas of high importance in providing water to users in a catchment; (ii) aquatic areas of high ecological importance; and (iii) areas that are particularly sensitive to human impact.
  3. In this project, each sub-catchment and river reach of Zambia was characterized for their importance regarding these three criteria. ‘Water provisioning’ was assessed by analysing patterns of runoff generation and human water use; ‘aquatic ecological importance’ was determined by conducting a freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem assessment using a systematic conservation planning approach; and ‘sensitive areas’ were identified by quantifying erosion potential and sediment transport. The work was supported by an assessment of free-flowing rivers in Zambia, i.e., those rivers where aquatic ecosystem functions and services are largely unaffected by changes to fluvial connectivity through dams and other infrastructure.
  4. Highly ranked sub-catchments were found in the Liuwa, Barotse, and Bangweulu floodplains and wetlands, and in the headwater regions of the upper Zambezi, Kafue, Chambeshi/Luapula, and Tanganyika catchments. The Luangwa was identified as the highest ranked candidate river for protection within Zambia.
  5. The resulting maps, data, and methods are intended to support national-scale efforts to prioritize areas for surface water protection, identify catchments and rivers with high conservation value, optimize decision making for infrastructure development, and inform concerted strategies to maintain and restore freshwater ecosystem services in Zambia.

Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth. However, food is currently threatening both people and the planet. An immense challenge facing humanity is to provide a growing world population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems. While global food production of calories has generally kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people still lack sufficient food, and many more consume either low-quality diets or too much food. Unhealthy diets now pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than unsafe sex, alcohol, drug and tobacco use combined. Global food production threatens climate stability and ecosystem resilience and constitutes the single largest driver of environmental degradation and transgression of planetary boundaries Willett et al. (2019). Taken together, the outcome is dire. A radical transformation of the global food system is urgently needed. Without action, the world risks failing to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, and today’s children will inherit a planet that has been severely degraded and where much of the population will increasingly suffer from malnutrition and preventable disease…

Biodiversity monitoring delivers vital information to those making conservation decisions. Comprehensively measuring terrestrial biodiversity usually requires costly methods that can rarely be deployed at large spatial scales over multiple time periods, limiting conservation efficiency. Here we investigated the capacity of environmental DNA (eDNA) from stream water samples to survey terrestrial mammal diversity at multiple spatial scales within a large catchment. We compared biodiversity information recovered using an eDNA metabarcoding approach with data from a dense camera trap survey, as well as the sampling costs of both methods. Via the sampling of large volumes of water from the two largest streams that drained the study area, eDNA metabarcoding provided information on the presence and detection probabilities of 35 mammal taxa, 25% more than camera traps and for half the cost. While eDNA metabarcoding had limited capacity to detect felid species and provide individual-level demographic information, it is a cost-efficient method for large-scale monitoring of terrestrial mammals that can offer sufficient information to solve many conservation problems.

We calculate potential loss of free-flowing rivers (FFRs) if proposed hydropower projects are built globally. Over 260,000 km of rivers, including Amazon, Congo, Irrawaddy, and Salween mainstem rivers, would lose free-flowing status if all dams were built. We propose a set of tested and proven solutions to navigate trade-offs associated with river conservation and dam development. These solution pathways are framed within the mitigation hierarchy and include (1) avoidance through either formal river protection or through exploration of alternative development options; (2) minimization of impacts through strategic or system-scale planning or re-regulation of downstream flows; (3) restoration of rivers through dam removal; and (4) mitigation of dam impacts through biodiversity offsets that include restoration and protection of FFRs. A series of examples illustrate how avoiding or reducing impacts on rivers is possible – particularly when implemented at a system scale – and can be achieved while maintaining or expanding benefits for climate resilience, water, food, and energy security.

Freshwater biodiversity is declining dramatically, and the current biodiversity crisis requires defining bold goals and mobilizing substantial resources to meet the challenges. While the reasons are varied, both research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity lag far behind efforts in the terrestrial and marine realms. We identify fifteen pressing global needs to support informed global freshwater biodiversity stewardship. The proposed agenda aims to advance freshwater biodiversity research globally as a critical step in improving coordinated action towards its sustainable management and conservation.

The Convention on Biological Diversity’s post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will probably include a goal to stabilize and restore the status of species. Its delivery would be facilitated by making the actions required to halt and reverse species loss spatially explicit. Here, we develop a species threat abatement and restoration (STAR) metric that is scalable across species, threats and geographies. STAR quantifies the contributions that abating threats and restoring habitats in specific places offer towards reducing extinction risk. While every nation can contribute towards halting biodiversity loss, Indonesia, Colombia, Mexico, Madagascar and Brazil combined have stewardship over 31% of total STAR values for terrestrial amphibians, birds and mammals. Among actions, sustainable crop production and forestry dominate, contributing 41% of total STAR values for these taxonomic groups. Key Biodiversity Areas cover 9% of the terrestrial surface but capture 47% of STAR values. STAR could support governmental and non-state actors in quantifying their contributions to meeting science-based species targets within the framework.

Innovative techniques, such as environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding, are now promoting broader biodiversity monitoring at unprecedented scales, due to the reduction in time, presumably lower cost, and methodological efficiency. Our goal was to assess the efficiency of established inventory techniques (live‐trapping grids, pitfall traps, camera trapping, mist‐netting) as well as eDNA for detecting Amazonian mammals. For terrestrial small mammals, we used 32 live‐trapping grids based on Sherman and Tomahawk traps (total effort of 10368 trap‐nights); in addition to 16 pitfall traps (1408 trap‐nights). For bats, we used mist nets at 8 sites (4,800 net hours). For medium and large mammals, we used 72 camera trap stations (5208 camera‐days). We identified vertebrate and mammal taxa based on eDNA analysis (12S region, with V05 and Mamm01 markers) from water samples, including a total of 11 3‐km transects for stagnant water sampling and 7 small streams for running water sampling. A total of 106 mammal species were recorded. Building on sample‐based rarefaction and extrapolation curves, both trapping grids and pitfall were successful, recording 91.16% and 82.1% of the expected species for these techniques (~22 and ~9 species), and 16.98% and 6.60% of the total recorded mammal species, respectively. Mist nets recorded 83.2% of the expected bat species (~48), and 34.91% of the total recorded species. Camera trapping recorded 99.2% of the predicted large and medium‐sized species (~31), and 33.02% of the total recorded species. eDNA recorded 75.4% of the expected mammal species for this technique (~68), and 47.0% of the total recorded species. eDNA resulted in a useful tool that saves on effort and reduces sampling costs. This study is among the first to show the large potential of eDNA metabarcoding for assessing Amazonian mammal communities, providing, in combination with conventional techniques, a rapid overview of mammal diversity with broad applications to monitoring, management and conservation. By including appropriate genetic markers and updated reference databases, eDNA metabarcoding method can be extended to the whole vertebrate community.

Initiatives to promote community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) have been evaluated with mixed results in socio-economic and ecological outcome dimensions. In Namibia, community conservancies are being established since the 1990s mainly to reconcile wildlife conservation and rural development. As Namibia gears up for participation in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), land use and land cover change and related biomass carbon dynamics may become increasingly important additional outcome indicators for the country's approach to CBNRM. Based on a social-ecological conceptual framework, we identify spatially heterogeneous local context factors that may drive positive and negative effects of CBNRM on vegetation cover in Namibia's Zambezi region. We test our theoretical predictions using panel data in a spatially explicit, quasi-experimental evaluation design and find that, on average, CBNRM somewhat increased elephant presence, but had a negative effect on woodland cover. Heterogeneous treatment effect analysis indicates that CBNRM does work for woodland conservation when communities are located in and around wildlife corridors, which provide tourism income opportunities. Despite success in stabilizing wildlife populations in the region, our results suggest that complementary conservation incentives may be required to make Namibia's CBNRM model fit for REDD+.

Dams, reservoirs, and other water management infrastructure provide benefits, but can also have negative impacts. Dam construction and removal affects progress toward the UN sustainable development goals at local to global scales. Yet, globally-consistent information on the location and characteristics of these structures are lacking, with information often highly localised, fragmented, or inaccessible. A freely available, curated, consistent, and regularly updated global database of existing dams and other instream infrastructure is needed along with open access tools to support research, decision-making and management needs. Here we introduce the Global Dam Watch (GDW) initiative (www.globaldamwatch.org) whose objectives are: (a) advancing recent efforts to develop a single, globally consistent dam and instream barrier data product for global-scale analyses (the GDW database); (b) bringing together the increasingly numerous global, regional and local dam and instream barrier datasets in a directory of databases (the GDW directory); (c) building tools for the visualisation of dam and instream barrier data and for analyses in support of policy and decision making (the GDW knowledge-base) and (d) advancing earth observation and geographical information system techniques to map a wider range of instream structures and their properties.

Our focus is on all types of anthropogenic instream barriers, though we have started by prioritizing major reservoir dams and run-of-river barriers, for which more information is available. Our goal is to facilitate national-scale, basin-scale and global-scale mapping, analyses and understanding of all instream barriers, their impacts and their role in sustainable development through the provision of publicly accessible information and tools. We invite input and partnerships across sectors to strengthen GDW’s utility and relevance for all, help define database content and knowledge-base tools, and generally expand the reach of GDW as a global hub of impartial academic expertise and policy information regarding dams and other instream barriers.

Wildlife-based tourism poses opportunities and challenges for species conservation. Minimizing potential negative impacts of tourism is critical to ensure business and conservation enterprises can coexist. In north-western Namibia tourism is used as a conservation tool for the Critically Endangered black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis. However, black rhinoceroses are susceptible to human disturbance and may become displaced by tourist activities, which threatens not only the security and health of the rhinoceros population but also the sustainability of the business. We examined areas avoided by black rhinoceroses to understand how they respond to the type and extent of tourism development, and to evaluate management alternatives. We used spatial data on use of water sources by rhinoceroses to create a series of a priori candidate models that described the negative influences of tourist activities on rhinoceros habitat use. A model selection approach strongly supported a cumulative zones of influence model comprised of a 6 km buffer around the airstrip combined with a 1 km buffer around roads used daily. We compared alternative management scenarios using the best-performing model and found that an optimal road-use policy combined with airstrip relocation could minimize the total area avoided by the black rhinoceros to 7.1% and loss of high quality habitat to 20.7%. Under the worst-case scenario the area avoided and loss of high quality habitat were 153 and 85% greater, respectively, than under the scenario with optimal management. Our findings provide a novel framework and a practical, policy-relevant decision support tool to improve the contribution of tourism to wildlife conservation.

To inform efforts at preventing future pandemics, we assessed how socio-demographic attributes correlated with wildlife consumption as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) first spread across Asia. Self-reported wildlife consumption was most strongly related to COVID-19 awareness; those with greater awareness were 11–24% less likely to buy wildlife products. A hypothetical intervention targeting increased awareness, support for wildlife market closures and reduced medical impacts of COVID-19 could halve future wildlife consumption rates across several countries and demographics.

Relatively few studies have examined how the degree of involvement of local communities in nature‐based tourism, and the benefits that are generated for them, impact the choices that tourists make when visiting developing countries. We surveyed over 400 visitors in multiple locations in Namibia, using a discrete choice experiment to elicit preferences for attributes reflecting tracking safaris of the critically endangered, desert‐adapted black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in the northwest of the country. Attributes included those related to local community involvement and the benefits they receive from tourism, as well as the reinvestment of tourism profits back into rhino conservation, and the wildlife likely to be seen on safari. Using a latent class model that assigned tourists to market segments based on the observed pattern of responses in the choice experiment, we find that respondents can be divided into four classes that reflect differences in tourism preferences and their own demographics and experiences. While responses to attributes varied across classes, respondents were consistent in demonstrating a strong preference for the largest share of profits being returned to the local community, and were willing to pay an additional $43–670 to ensure this happens. Respondents in the four classes differed in their views toward the financing of rhino conservation and the participation of community trackers in rhino safaris, although those respondents in the class most interested in rhino tracking safaris were willing to pay an additional $34 per trip for tracker involvement. Our results demonstrate the value of assessing heterogeneity in tourists' preferences for wildlife experiences, and suggest that appropriate pricing and marketing may result in “triple bottom line” gains for nature‐based tourism.

Few food waste interventions focus on drivers distinct to particular food groups, such as seafood. Given suggestive evidence that seafood may be wasted at exceptionally high rates, and given its environmental, economic and nutritional value, this research provides insights into seafood-specific consumer food waste interventions. We performed three complementary sub-studies to examine consumer and retailer views regarding seafood waste and frozen seafood as well as perceptions of an intervention providing chef-created recipes to promote cooking frozen seafood without defrosting. The findings indicated an openness to a direct-from-frozen intervention among many consumers and retailers, and suggested seven potential barriers to adoption, along with ways to address them. Underlying the potential for this intervention, and more broadly contributing to addressing consumer seafood waste, the research formed the basis of a new “4 Ps” concept model to characterize the drivers of discarded seafood: proficiency, perceptions/knowledge, perishability, and planning/convenience. These factors shape waste through pathways that include behavioral protocols; taste preferences; waste-prevention efforts; and food safety concerns, precautions, and errors. This research suggested the benefit of testing a larger-scale direct-from-frozen intervention using insights from the concept model and, more broadly, the benefits of exploring approaches to food waste prevention rooted in specific food groups.

Few food waste interventions focus on drivers distinct to particular food groups, such as seafood. Given suggestive evidence that seafood may be wasted at exceptionally high rates, and given its environmental, economic and nutritional value, this research provides insights into seafood-specific consumer food waste interventions. We performed three complementary sub-studies to examine consumer and retailer views regarding seafood waste and frozen seafood as well as perceptions of an intervention providing chef-created recipes to promote cooking frozen seafood without defrosting. The findings indicated an openness to a direct-from-frozen intervention among many consumers and retailers, and suggested seven potential barriers to adoption, along with ways to address them. Underlying the potential for this intervention, and more broadly contributing to addressing consumer seafood waste, the research formed the basis of a new “4 Ps” concept model to characterize the drivers of discarded seafood: proficiency, perceptions/knowledge, perishability, and planning/convenience. These factors shape waste through pathways that include behavioral protocols; taste preferences; waste-prevention efforts; and food safety concerns, precautions, and errors. This research suggested the benefit of testing a larger-scale direct-from-frozen intervention using insights from the concept model and, more broadly, the benefits of exploring approaches to food waste prevention rooted in specific food groups.

The sustainable use of fisheries resources is a priority of the African Union in developing the Blue Economy (BE). Growing global demand for seafood has attracted diverse actors to African waters, including Distant Water Fishing Nations (DWFNs) fleets. Complex fisheries governance challenges, unsustainable rates of fishing and rising fisheries-related crimes have ensued. To reverse these impacts, some African states are deploying various fisheries governance mechanisms. Drawing on extensive expert experiences, the review of literature, fisheries databases, international and regional agency reports, NGO and government reports and case studies from West and East Africa, we demonstrate two critical findings. First, fisheries governance mechanisms in Africa act largely to constrain small-scale fisheries (SSF) while failing to contain the industrial fisheries sector, resulting in the marginalisation of the SSF. Secondly, despite a higher incidence of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in industrial fisheries than the SSF, fisheries governance mechanisms continue to advance the 'Survival of the Richest' – the industrial sector, to the detriment of the 'Fittest' – the SSF. The SSF supports millions of jobs and is better adapted to meet the continents' nutrition and socio-economic security. For the fisheries sector to contribute to the sustainable development of Africans, states must redirect governance towards regulating the industrial sector, emphasising equitable access for the SSF whilst prioritising ecological sustainability.

Grassland-dependent Vulpes velox Say (Swift Foxes) occupy only a portion of their historical range in the North American Great Plains and remaining subpopulations are functionally disconnected due to habitat fragmentation and other barriers. Modeling habitat suitability is critical to identifying sites for habitat conservation and reintroduction and increasing subpopulation connectivity. We used mixed-effects modeling to simultaneously evaluate Swift Fox presence against habitat variables and subecoregional location. Our results show that habitat suitability is dependent on geographic location. Individual subecoregional models were each influenced by land cover and soil composition but varied by dominant soil component and correlation with surrounding land uses. These findings prioritize localized data for species management and predict how changing landscape composition may impact Swift Fox distribution.

Approximately one-third of long rivers remain free-flowing, and rivers face a range of ongoing and future threats. In response, there is a heightened call for actions to reverse the freshwater biodiversity crisis, including through formal global targets for protection. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets called for the protection of 17% of inland water areas by 2020. Here, we examine the levels and spatial patterns of protection for a specific type of inland water area—rivers designated as free-flowing. Out of a global total of 11.7 million kilometers of rivers, 1.9 million kilometers (16%) are within protected areas and 10.1 million kilometers are classified as free-flowing, with 1.7 million kilometers of the free-flowing kilometers (17%) within protected areas. Thus, at the global level, the proportion of rivers in protected areas is just below the Aichi Target, and the proportion of free-flowing rivers within protected areas equals that target. However, the extent of protection varies widely across river basins, countries, and continents, and many of these geographic units have a level of protection far lower than the target. Further, high discharge mainstem rivers tend to have lower extent of protection. We conclude by reviewing the limitations of measuring river protection by the proportion of river kilometers within protected areas and describe a range of mechanisms that can provide more effective protection. We also propose a set of recommendations for a more comprehensive quantification of global river protection.

Nature's contributions to people (NCP) may be both beneficial and detrimental to humans' quality of life. Since our origins, humans have been closely related to wild ungulates, which have traditionally played an outstanding role as a source of food or raw materials. Currently, wild ungulates are declining in some regions, but recovering in others throughout passive rewilding processes. This is reshaping human-ungulate interactions. Thus, adequately understanding the benefits and detriments associated with wild ungulate populations is necessary to promote human-ungulate co-existence. Here, we reviewed 575 articles (2000-2019) on human-wild ungulate interactions to identify key knowledge gaps on NCP associated with wild ungulates. Wild ungulate research was mainly distributed into seven research clusters focussing on: (1) silvicultural damage in Eurasia; (2) herbivory and natural vegetation; (3) conflicts in urban areas of North America; (4) agricultural damage in Mediterranean agro-ecosystems; (5) social research in Africa and Asia; (6) agricultural damage in North America; (7) research in natural American Northwest areas. Research mostly focused on detrimental NCP. However, the number of publications mentioning beneficial contributions increased after the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services conceptual framework was implemented. Human-ungulate interactions' research was biased towards the Global North and Cervidae, Suidae and Bovidae families. Regarding detrimental NCP, most publications referred to production damage (e.g. crops), followed by biodiversity damage, and material damage (e.g. traffic collisions). Regarding beneficial NCP, publications mainly highlighted non-material contributions (e.g. recreational hunting), followed by material NCP and regulating contributions (e.g. habitat creation). The main actions taken to manage wild ungulate populations were lethal control and using deterrents and barriers (e.g. fencing), which effectiveness was rarely assessed. Increasing research and awareness about beneficial NCP and effective management tools may help to improve the conservation of wild ungulates and the ecosystems they inhabit to facilitate people-ungulate co-existence in the Anthropocene.

The intersection of potential global targets and commitments for ocean conservation with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has resulted in an opportunity to rethink the future of marine area-based conservation tools, particularly for marine protected and conserved areas (MPCAs). As MPCAs continue to provide essential ecological, social and economic services, current approaches to establishing and managing these areas require an understanding of the factors that drive the pressures they face. We briefly review their status pre-pandemic and provide an overview of the impacts of COVID-19 informed primarily by 15 case studies. Impacts are of two kinds: those affecting livelihoods and well-being of local communities and stakeholders that depend on the MPCA; and those which affect management and governance of the MPCA itself. Responses from managers and communities have addressed: the management of resources; income and food security; monitoring and enforcement; seafood supply chains; and communication amongst managers, community members and other stakeholders. Finally, we discuss innovative approaches and tools for scaling and transformational change, emphasising synergies between management for conservation and management for sustainable livelihoods, and how these relate to the principles of equity and resilience.

With the Brazilian military governments of the 1960s, systematic economic development of the Amazon began. Social and environmental concerns have entered Amazonian discourses and policies only since the 1990s. Since then, reports of threats to forests and indigenous people have alternated with reports of socio-economic progress and environmental achievements. These contradictions often arise from limited thematic, sectoral, temporal, or spatial perspectives, and lead to misinterpretation. Our paper offers a comprehensive picture of discourses, policies, and socio-environmental dynamics for the entire region over the last five decades. We distinguish eight historical policy phases, each of which had little effect on near-linear dynamics of demographic growth and land-use expansion, although some policies showed the potential to change the course of development. To prevent local, national, and international actors from continuing to assert harmful interests in the region, a coherent long-term commitment and change in the collective mindset are needed.

The Bird's Head Seascape (BHS), Papua, Indonesia is located within the epicenter of global marine biodiversity and has been the focus of recent conservation efforts to protect marine resources. Here, we provide an overview of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) progress in the BHS over the past decade, including establishment history, changes in management effectiveness and ecosystem health, as well as examining trends in tourism growth. While generally viewed as a conservation success story, we reflect on both successes and challenges in the BHS, identifying where we need to continue to improve and adapt in response to rapid economic and environmental change. As of 2020, BHS MPAs cover 5.1 million ha across 23 MPAs. As expected, management effectiveness is steadily increasing in BHS MPAs—although newer MPAs face substantial capacity gaps. Tourism is rapidly growing—with an almost 3,000% increase in tourist visits between 2007 and 2018. Overall, hard coral cover in monitored BHS MPAs remained stable at 33% from 2010 to 2019, although trends in reef fish biomass were more variable. Given continued conservation challenges in the region, BHS MPAs are successfully preventing biodiversity loss while providing ecosystem services for local communities.

  1. Although the network of national parks in Zambia offers a degree of protection for freshwater diversity, the protection status of numerous systems outside of these parks requires further action. The biodiversity associated with its freshwater systems, both lotic and lentic, is unique, covering a climatic gradient from tropical to subtropical across the Zambezi and Congo basins. Recent Zambian legislation allows for the delineation of water resource protection areas (WRPAs), with one of the criteria being that they include aquatic areas of ecological importance (AEIs).
  2. In this study, a systematic conservation planning approach was used to identify aquatic AEIs objectively. Importantly, the approach included a rigorous and iterative stakeholder engagement and review process.
  3. The conservation planning software marxan was chosen because of its ability to integrate upstream–downstream connectivity. In total, 5,671 planning units (sub-catchments with an average area of approx. 14,000 ha) were populated with 77 biodiversity features: data were drawn from a wide range of sources, and included fishes, semi-aquatic mammals, molluscs, amphibians, and ecotonal physiographic features, such as waterfalls. Sub-catchments were preferentially chosen using a combination of area- and distance-weighted boundary costs.
  4. The final solution highlights critical clusters in each of the major freshwater ecoregions in Zambia, with all conservation targets being met. Results show that although the existing protected area network also coincides with identified aquatic AEIs, approximately 80% of all aquatic AEIs fall outside of formally protected areas.
  5. The outcomes of this process serve as one of three prioritization layers (the other two being water provision and sensitivity to human impacts) that are integrated in a larger study to select and prioritize WRPAs.

Land-based climate mitigation measures have gained significant attention and importance in public and private sector climate policies. Building on previous studies, we refine and update the mitigation potentials for 20 land-based measures in >200 countries and five regions, comparing “bottom-up” sectoral estimates with integrated assessment models (IAMs). We also assess implementation feasibility at the country level. Cost-effective (available up to $100/tCO2eq) land-based mitigation is 8–13.8 GtCO2eq yr−1between 2020 and 2050, with the bottom end of this range representing the IAM median and the upper end representing the sectoral estimate. The cost-effective sectoral estimate is about 40% of available technical potential and is in line with achieving a 1.5°C pathway in 2050. Compared to technical potentials, cost-effective estimates represent a more realistic and actionable target for policy. The cost-effective potential is approximately 50% from forests and other ecosystems, 35% from agriculture, and 15% from demand-side measures. The potential varies sixfold across the five regions assessed (0.75–4.8 GtCO2eq yr−1) and the top 15 countries account for about 60% of the global potential. Protection of forests and other ecosystems and demand-side measures present particularly high mitigation efficiency, high provision of co-benefits, and relatively lower costs. The feasibility assessment suggests that governance, economic investment, and socio-cultural conditions influence the likelihood that land-based mitigation potentials are realized. A substantial portion of potential (80%) is in developing countries and LDCs, where feasibility barriers are of greatest concern. Assisting countries to overcome barriers may result in significant quantities of near-term, low-cost mitigation while locally achieving important climate adaptation and development benefits. Opportunities among countries vary widely depending on types of land-based measures available, their potential co-benefits and risks, and their feasibility. Enhanced investments and country-specific plans that accommodate this complexity are urgently needed to realize the large global potential from improved land stewardship.

Forest degradation, generally defined as a reduction in the delivery of forest ecosystem services, can have long-term impacts on biodiversity, climate, and local livelihoods. The quantification of forest degradation, its dynamics and proximate causes can help prompt early action to mitigate carbon emissions and inform relevant land use policies. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is largely forested with a relatively low deforestation rate, but anthropogenic degradation has been increasing in recent years. We assess the impact of eight independent variables related to land cover, land use, infrastructure, armed conflicts, and accessibility on forest degradation, measured by the Forest Condition (FC) index, a measure of forest degradation based on biomass history and fragmentation that ranges from 0 (completely deforested) to 100 (intact). We employ spatial panel models with fixed effects using regular 25 × 25 km units over five 3-year intervals from 2002 to 2016. The regression results suggest that the presence of swamp ecosystems, low access (defined by high travel time), and forest concessions are associated with lower forest degradation, while built up area, fire frequency, armed conflicts result in greater forest degradation. The impact of neighboring units on FC shows that all variables within the 50 km spatial neighborhood have a greater effect on FC than the on-site spatial determinants, indicating the greater influence of drivers beyond the 25 km2 unit. In the case of protected areas, we unexpectedly find that protection in neighboring locations leads to higher forest degradation, suggesting a potential leakage effect, while protected areas in the local vicinity have a positive influence on FC. The Mann-Kendall trend statistic of occurrences of fires and conflicts over the time period and until 2020 show that significant increases in conflicts and fires are spatially divergent. Overall, our results highlight how assessing the proximate causes of forest degradation with spatiotemporal analysis can support targeted interventions and policies to reduce forest degradation but spillover effects of proximal drivers in neighboring areas need to be considered.

Conservation technology holds the potential to vastly increase conservationists’ ability to understand and address critical environmental challenges, but systemic constraints appear to hamper its development and adoption. Understanding of these constraints and opportunities for advancement remains limited. We conducted a global online survey of 248 conservation technology users and developers to identify perceptions of existing tools’ current performance and potential impact, user and developer constraints, and key opportunities for growth. We also conducted focus groups with 45 leading experts to triangulate findings. The technologies with the highest perceived potential were machine learning and computer vision, eDNA and genomics, and networked sensors. Ninety-five percent, 94%, and 92% of respondents, respectively, rated them as very helpful or game changers. The most pressing challenges affecting the field as a whole were competition for limited funding, duplication of efforts, and inadequate capacity building. Seventy-six percent, 67%, and 55% of respondents, respectively, identified these as primary concerns. The key opportunities for growth identified in focus groups were increasing collaboration and information sharing, improving the interoperability of tools, and enhancing capacity for data analyses at scale. Some constraints appeared to disproportionately affect marginalized groups. Respondents in countries with developing economies were more likely to report being constrained by upfront costs, maintenance costs, and development funding (p = 0.048, odds ratio [OR] = 2.78; p = 0.005, OR = 4.23; p = 0.024, OR = 4.26), and female respondents were more likely to report being constrained by development funding and perceived technical skills (p = 0.027, OR = 3.98; p = 0.048, OR = 2.33). To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to formally capture the perspectives and needs of the global conservation technology community, providing foundational data that can serve as a benchmark to measure progress. We see tremendous potential for this community to further the vision they define, in which collaboration trumps competition; solutions are open, accessible, and interoperable; and user-friendly processing tools empower the rapid translation of data into conservation action.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a global impact on the tourism sector. With tourism numbers dramatically reduced, millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. Widespread reports of dramatic changes to protected and conserved1 area visitation have negative consequences for conservation finances, tourism businesses and the livelihoods of people who supply labour, goods and services to tourists and tourism businesses. This paper aims to share experiences from around the world on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on protected area tourism; and considers how to build resilience within protected area tourism as a regenerative conservation tool.

The Orinoco river basin is the third largest river in the world by volume. Its catchment encompasses 27 major sub-basins including the Bita with a catchment area of about 825,000 ha, which originates in the Colombian high plains in the Llanos ecoregion. It has been recognized as a priority area for conservation through different gap analyses and overall determined to have good health according to the Orinoco report card 2016. The natural climate and hydrologic processes, and their synergies with flooded forests, savannas, wetlands, species diversity and local economic activities, are part of a dynamic and sensitive system. With the purpose of conserving the ecological, social and cultural benefits that it brings, the Colombian Government, with the support of regional and local civil society organizations, promoted the designation of a conservation area. Technical exercises were carried out including biological and socioeconomic surveys, local stakeholder consultations and future scenario modeling. In June 2018, the Bita River basin was designated as the largest Ramsar site in Colombia, providing a worldwide example of explicit protection of riverine systems. In order to maintain this free-flowing river, land use and fisheries management, in conjunction with other conservation actions, are being implemented and provide a model of protection for freshwater ecosystems that could be replicated elsewhere.

Human activity and land use change impact every landscape on Earth, driving declines in many animal species while benefiting others. Species ecological and life history traits may predict success in human-dominated landscapes such that only species with “winning” combinations of traits will persist in disturbed environments. However, this link between species traits and successful coexistence with humans remains obscured by the complexity of anthropogenic disturbances and variability among study systems. We compiled detection data for 24 mammal species from 61 populations across North America to quantify the effects of (1) the direct presence of people and (2) the human footprint (landscape modification) on mammal occurrence and activity levels. Thirty-three percent of mammal species exhibited a net negative response (i.e., reduced occurrence or activity) to increasing human presence and/or footprint across populations, whereas 58% of species were positively associated with increasing disturbance. However, apparent benefits of human presence and footprint tended to decrease or disappear at higher disturbance levels, indicative of thresholds in mammal species’ capacity to tolerate disturbance or exploit human-dominated landscapes. Species ecological and life history traits were strong predictors of their responses to human footprint, with increasing footprint favoring smaller, less carnivorous, faster-reproducing species. The positive and negative effects of human presence were distributed more randomly with respect to species trait values, with apparent winners and losers across a range of body sizes and dietary guilds. Differential responses by some species to human presence and human footprint highlight the importance of considering these two forms of human disturbance separately when estimating anthropogenic impacts on wildlife. Our approach provides insights into the complex mechanisms through which human activities shape mammal communities globally, revealing the drivers of the loss of larger predators in human-modified landscapes.

Spatial prioritization is a critical step in conservation planning, a process designed to ensure that limited resources are applied in ways that deliver the highest possible returns for biodiversity and human wellbeing. In practice, many spatial prioritizations fall short of their potential by focusing on places rather than actions, and by using data of snapshots of assets or threats rather than estimated impacts. We introduce spatial action mapping as an approach that overcomes these shortfalls. This approach produces a spatially explicit view of where and how much a given conservation action is likely to contribute to achieving stated conservation goals. Through seven case examples, we demonstrate simple to complex versions of how this method can be applied across local to global scales to inform decisions about a wide range of conservation actions and benefits. Spatial action mapping can support major improvements in efficient use of conservation resources and will reach its full potential as the quality of environmental, social, and economic datasets converge and conservation impact evaluations improve.

There has been a long history of conflicts, studies, and debate over how to both protect rivers and develop them sustainably. With a pause in new developments caused by the global pandemic, anticipated further implementation of the Paris Agreement and high-level global climate and biodiversity meetings in 2021, now is an opportune moment to consider the current trajectory of development and policy options for reconciling dams with freshwater system health.

There has been a long history of conflicts, studies, and debate over how to both protect rivers and develop them sustainably. With a pause in new developments caused by the global pandemic, anticipated further implementation of the Paris Agreement and high-level global climate and biodiversity meetings in 2021, now is an opportune moment to consider the current trajectory of development and policy options for reconciling dams with freshwater system health.

Over the last decade, there have been increasing calls for robust impact evaluations of voluntary agricultural sustainability standards (VSS’s). In response, this study reviews the literature regarding 13 major agricultural standards, asking: where are certified crops being studied? Which sustainability outcomes and indicators are measured? And finally, what does the current evidence base suggest about VSS outcomes? The analysis of 45 peer-reviewed articles suggests a mismatch between what is certified and what is studied. Some crops and standards are over-represented in the literature as compared to their amount of certified production (e.g. coffee and Fairtrade certification), while others are under-represented (cotton, sugar, cocoa, soy, and palm oil, in addition to Organic certification). The review also identifies countries which appear to be under-represented in the literature, including Brazil, Australia, Malaysia, the Ivory Coast, and the United States. When measuring success, economic indicators are the most frequently evaluated, and only 20% of studies analyze economic, social, and environmental indicators simultaneously. When grouped by case, the indicator results tend to be positive on average (51%), followed by no difference (41%) and negative (8%) outcomes. There are no significant differences among sustainability pillars in terms of the average proportion of positive and negative results. These findings should be interpreted carefully, since the evidence base is heavily weighted towards coffee certification (75% of cases analyzed), and impacts are highly context dependent. Finally, the review identifies best practices in conducting robust evaluations, including the importance of addressing sustainability trade-offs and appropriately measuring environmental outcomes. While significant gaps remain, the findings indicate an increase in research credibly measuring VSS impacts.

Land transformation reduces biodiversity and regional sustainability, with land price being an indicator of the opportunity cost to a landowner of resisting land conversion. However, reliable spatially explicit databases of current land prices are generally lacking in developing countries. We used tools from data science to scrape 1,487 georeferenced land prices in southern Kenya from the internet. Prices were higher for land near cities and in areas of high agricultural productivity, but also around the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Predicted land prices ranged from US$662 to US$4,618,805 per acre. Land speculation associated with expanding urbanization increases the opportunity and acquisition costs of maintaining conservation buffer zones, corridors, and dispersal areas. However, high land values are also found adjacent to a world-famous tourist destination. Profit-driven turnover of ownership, subdivision, and transformation of land is occurring at a rapid pace in southern Kenya, to the detriment of savanna biodiversity and the sustainability of the pastoral social–ecological system.

Tropical forest ecosystems are the most species-rich in the world and face intense pressures from land conversion. If done well, selective logging can be an important way of supporting local economies while minimally impacting wildlife. However, most studies on how selective logging affects wildlife come from sites that have been logged some time ago, often a decade or more. Here we assess how logging affects species assemblages in the very short term, immediately after the cessation of timber operations. We estimated overall mammal species richness in unlogged forest, previously logged forest, and an active logging concession in Indonesian Borneo using rarefaction-extrapolation-based diversity estimators. We found that estimated species richness did not differ significantly between unlogged forest (15.5 ± 2.82 species), previously logged forest (14.5 ± 2.10), or recently logged sites (14.2 ± 1.45) sites. Our findings suggest that the short-term impacts of properly managed selective logging are on par with the longer-term impacts that have been assessed in many prior studies.

Tropical forest ecosystems are the most species-rich in the world and face intense pressures from land conversion. If done well, selective logging can be an important way of supporting local economies while minimally impacting wildlife. However, most studies on how selective logging affects wildlife come from sites that have been logged some time ago, often a decade or more. Here we assess how logging affects species assemblages in the very short term, immediately after the cessation of timber operations. We estimated overall mammal species richness in unlogged forest, previously logged forest, and an active logging concession in Indonesian Borneo using rarefaction-extrapolation-based diversity estimators. We found that estimated species richness did not differ significantly between unlogged forest (15.5 ± 2.82 species), previously logged forest (14.5 ± 2.10), or recently logged sites (14.2 ± 1.45) sites. Our findings suggest that the short-term impacts of properly managed selective logging are on par with the longer-term impacts that have been assessed in many prior studies.

The continued growth in demand for a relatively small number of agricultural and forest commodities in global trade has placed increasing pressures on forests across landscapes in the tropics and sub-tropics. These pressures are amplified by growing domestic demand in producing countries. Such trends have led to multiple environmental challenges linked to loss of forests and biodiversity and rising carbon emissions. They also create social challenges including threats to local food security, tenure rights and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities. Expansion of trade in forest-risk commodities over the past three decades has resulted in increased pressure from civil society organizations, consumers, international banks and shareholders of consumer goods companies to develop and implement a diverse array of instruments and tools to promote sustainable or deforestation-free sourcing, and as a way to reduce exposure to reputational, financial and regulatory risks. Multi-stakeholder platforms and commodity roundtables also emerged, in response to criticisms of government failures. The multiplication of sustainability initiatives has been driven by the growing complexity and diversity of conditions under which agri-food and timber supply chains operate. Private sector actors have increasingly defined and monitored their own sustainability performance by using certification standards or by developing their own procedures and criteria. More recently, a discernible shift toward landscape or jurisdictional approaches is seen as a way to meet sustainability goals. The growing complexity of policy regimes, inevitably, results in ambiguities and can lead to tradeoffs between gains and losses. This review presents a synthesis of the multiple public, private and hybrid governance initiatives that aim to promote sustainable supplies of key forest-risk commodities. It aims to make it easier to understand a vast and rapidly expanding literature. By drawing on the published literature and scientific discussions, including the recent FTA 2020 Science Conference, the review highlights some of the outstanding challenges that urgently need to be addressed in order to achieve the targeted impacts.


Much recent attention has focused on the potential of trees and forests to mitigate ongoing climate change by acting as sinks for carbon. Anderegg et al. review the growing evidence that forests' climate mitigation potential is increasingly at risk from a range of adversities that limit forest growth and health. These include physical factors such as drought and fire and biotic factors, including the depredations of insect herbivores and fungal pathogens. Full assessment and quantification of these risks, which themselves are influenced by climate, is key to achieving science-based policy outcomes for effective land and forest management.

The term “Anthropocene” has been suggested as the current epoch (denoting the current geological age) and is viewed as the period where human-based activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment (Lewis and Maslin, 2015). Arguably, one of the most prevalent and visible effects of this anthropogenic activity has manifested in the equatorial tropics—where coral reef ecosystems have suffered alarming declines (Pandolfi et al., 2003; Hughes et al., 2017). For example, recent increases in mass bleaching events brought about by prolonged periods of elevated sea surface temperatures highlight a worrying trend, with predictions that over half of reefs will experience annual severe bleaching before 2050 (van Hooidonk et al., 2016). For this reason, coral reefs have often been referred to as “canaries in the coal mine” for the marine biome. Yet reefs continue to be crucial sources of food, protection, livelihoods, and cultural identity for many people around the world (Teh et al., 2013; Hicks and Cinner, 2014; Lau et al., 2019). It is therefore critical that the link between healthy reefs, food security, and sustainable community livelihoods is maintained into the future.

Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; reefs 30–150 m depth) are poorly studied, with existing research heavily geographically biased away from the most species-rich reef regions. Yet, MCEs are of high interest because of their unique species and potential to act as refuges from the impacts of fishing. Using baited remote underwater video systems, we surveyed reef fish communities from 2 to 85 m depths throughout the Raja Ampat archipelago in West Papua, Indonesia—an area considered the heart of the Coral Triangle where coral reef biodiversity is greatest. We sought to provide the first assessment of fish communities across this depth gradient in the region and identify whether human population density and market access differently affected fish abundance based on depth. Here we show that—similar to shallow reefs—Raja Ampat MCEs are exceptionally diverse, with 152 fish species recorded at depths greater than 40 m. We found that fish community structures were highly depth driven, with declines in fish abundance at increased depth. In contrast to previous studies elsewhere in the world, we found that the proportion of planktivores declined across the shallow reef to MCE depth gradient. While greater human population density correlated with lower Epinephelidae and Lutjanidae abundance (two key fisheries families), we did not find evidence that MCEs provide a depth refuge from fishing. Surprisingly, we also found that fish abundance declined at greater distances from the major regional market—likely caused by historical fisheries pressure in more remote areas. These results both expand upon and contrast some previously established MCE-depth patterns and human impact patterns on fish communities, suggesting that regional context and historical pressures matters. Our findings highlight the need for future MCE studies within the Coral Triangle region

Important operational changes that have gradually been assimilated and new approaches that are developing as part of the movement toward sustainable intensive aquaculture production systems are presented via historical, current, and future perspectives. Improved environmental and economic sustainability based on increased efficiency of production continues to be realized. As a result, aquaculture continues to reduce its carbon footprint through reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Reduced use of freshwater and land resources per unit of production, improved feed management practices as well as increased knowledge of nutrient requirements, effective feed ingredients and additives, domestication of species, and new farming practices are now being applied or evaluated. Successful expansion into culture of marine species, both off and on shore, offers the potential of substantial increases in sustainable intensive aquaculture production combined with integrative efforts to increase efficiency will principally contribute to satisfying the increasing global demand for protein and food security needs.

Estimates of aeration energy use in shrimp farming varied from 11.4 to 41.6 GJ/t shrimp (average = 19.8 GJ/t). Several opportunities for reducing energy use in aeration are available. Many farms adopt an excessive yield to installed aeration capacity ratio. Moreover, the proportion of installed aerator capacity in use and duration of aerator operation per day are often more than necessary during the initial two‐thirds of grow‐out, because adjustment is not made for the quantity of shrimp biomass. Farm‐made, long‐arm aerators used in Asia have several features leading to energy inefficiency and could be replaced by more efficient factory‐made, long‐arm aerators. Asian aquaculture aerator manufacturers should redesign aerators to include design features shown in research to improve efficiency. Dissolved oxygen concentration monitoring essential for verification of aeration performance is seldom performed by shrimp farmers. With good aeration technique, energy use for aeration should not exceed 10–15 GJ/t shrimp.

Jurisdictional approaches have become popular in international forums as promising strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and to guarantee sustainable commodity supply. Yet, despite their growing popularity, up to now, there is little consensus on how such approaches should move forward in specific jurisdictions. In this paper we examine two contrasting municipal-level case studies in the eastern Amazonian state of Para where jurisdiction-wide efforts are underway to reduce deforestation. By developing detailed environmental governance timelines since 2005, conducting semi-structured interviews with key informants, analyzing municipal deforestation trends, plus extensive examination of project reports, governmental documents and other secondary sources, this paper performs two main analyses. First, it characterizes the processes in each municipality by linking the context and the environmental governance timeline to deforestation trends. Second it provides a systematic comparison of processes based on (1) the role of the government, (2) multi-stakeholder participation and inclusiveness, (3) adaptive governance, (4) horizontal and vertical coordination, and (5) alignment of public and private (supply-chain) initiatives. In so doing, this article answers some of the imperative questions on how to implement and improve jurisdictional approaches aimed at halting deforestation in the tropics.

Due to its controversies, oil palm cultivation has been targeted by regulatory innovations. Among these, transnational efforts—such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and corporate commitments to zero deforestation have been highly influential but often tend to overvalue environmental over socio-economic outcomes. This article discusses to what extent domestic governance models of palm oil producing countries can be better equipped to reconcile domestic demands such as economic development and poverty alleviation, and transnational concerns about forest conservation. We do so by looking into the Brazilian case, where the government intended to drive oil palm expansion in the Amazon through a program launched in 2010 that simultaneously only allowed expansion into already deforested areas and offered companies incentives to engage smallholder farmers in their supply chains. Our findings, drawn from primary research activities and existing literature, indicate that Brazil has managed to avoid deforestation typically associated with oil palm expansion elsewhere. Oil palm establishment involved the conversion of 0.8% and 1.3% of primary forests for corporate and smallholder plantations, respectively. However, the Brazilian government did not manage to optimally enhance smallholder participation in the sector, as significant differences in performance were observed between farmers, ranging from very successful (17%) to highly unsuccessful (12%); and failed to achieve sectoral development and competitiveness targets. While some failings can be attributed to external factors such as context, broader domestic governance frameworks and alignments, and private supply chain initiatives, the program itself did not manage to reconcile social, environmental and economic objectives into a single coherent sectoral governance model. Yet, this case study suggests that domestic governance strategies can enable commodity production in a way that is more coherent with national priorities, at the same time as preventing deforestation and minimizing social risks more effectively.

Connectivity conservation is aimed at sustaining animal movements and ecological processes important to ecosystem functioning and the maintenance of biodiversity. However, connectivity conservation plans are typically developed around a single species and rarely empirically evaluated for their relevance to others, thereby limiting our understanding of how connectivity requirements differ across species.

We used an omnidirectional application of circuit theory and GPS data from six species to evaluate connectivity at multiple scales for multiple species within the world's largest transfrontier conservation landscape in southern Africa. We evaluated the effects of linear barriers, natural habitat types and anthropogenic land use on movement. We identified multispecies connectivity hotspots as areas where current flow was concentrated or channelled through pinch points. To evaluate surrogate species for connectivity, we evaluated the correspondence among single‐species connectivity across the entire landscape and also examined whether a more localized corridor for African savanna elephant Loxodonta africana captured high multispecies connectivity values.

Connectivity models revealed many intact areas across the landscape with diffuse current flow, but also evidence that fences, rivers, roads and areas of anthropogenic use acted as strong barriers to movement—particularly in the case of fences, which completely blocked female elephant movement. Tests of correspondence among single‐species connectivity models revealed spotted hyaena and African wild dog as the strongest surrogate species of connectivity. Female elephants were found to be the weakest surrogate species of connectivity at the landscape scale. However, focusing within a localized elephant corridor revealed the areas of concentrated or channelled connectivity for most species in our study.

Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that the single‐species focus permeating connectivity literature may result in conservation plans that poorly conserve the connectivity needs of co‐occurring species. Our study also highlights the importance of testing the efficacy of surrogate species for connectivity at multiple scales. We recommend evaluating multispecies connectivity to prioritize areas for conservation that safeguard the connectivity needs of multiple species of conservation concern.

Tropical coastal marine ecosystems (TCMEs) are rich in biodiversity and provide many ecosystem services, including carbon storage, shoreline protection, and food. Coastal areas are home to increasing numbers of people and population growth is expected to continue, putting TCMEs under pressure from development as well as broader environmental changes associated with climate change, e.g. sea level rise and ocean acidification. Attention to TCMEs by conservation organizations has increased and although a variety of interventions to promote conservation and sustainable development of TCMEs have been implemented, evidence regarding the outcomes of these—for people or ecosystems—is scattered and unclear. This study takes a systematic mapping approach to identify articles that examine the ecological and social outcomes associated with conservation interventions in TCMEs; specifically in coral reef, mangrove, and seagrass habitats.

Coral reef fisheries depend on reef fish biomass to support ecosystem functioning and sustainable fisheries. Here, we evaluated coral reefs across 4,000 km of the Indonesian archipelago to reveal a large gradient of biomass, from <100 kg/ha to >17,000 kg/ha. Trophic pyramids characterized by planktivore dominance emerged at high biomass, suggesting the importance of pelagic pathways for reef productivity. Total biomass and the biomass of most trophic groups were higher within gear restricted and no‐take management, but the greatest biomass was found on unmanaged remote reefs. Within marine protected areas (MPAs), 41.6% and 43.6% of gear restricted and no‐take zones, respectively, met a global biomass target of 500 kg/ha, compared with 71.8% of remote sites. To improve conservation outcomes for Indonesia's biodiverse and economically important coral reef fisheries, our results suggest to: (1) strengthen management within Indonesia's existing MPAs and (2) precautionarily manage remote reefs with high biomass.

Does oil palm boost agricultural growth and reduce rural poverty, or is it a threat to rural livelihoods and tropical forest landscapes? This paper introduces a Special Issue on this question, focusing on Latin America. It reviews available literature and data for countries where oil palm either covers large areas (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras) or has recently expanded (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru), and presents evidence from nine case studies (including Nicaragua). Combining political economy with a livelihood approach, this article discusses how dissimilar policies supporting oil palm combined with contrasting agrarian change dynamics, market structures, and institutional arrangements driving rural inclusion (and exclusion) in oil palm production have resulted in a variety of expansion trajectories (ranging from smallholder-to plantation-based, plus mixed forms in between) and outcomes across the region. Main findings show that rural livelihoods and landscapes are most threatened where industrial plantations predominate, particularly in weakly governed forest frontiers, while oil palm is beneficial where policies guarantee land access and support smallholders. However, policies that are beneficial to smallholders do not preclude conflicts between oil palm smallholders (often migrant settlers) and forest-dependent (indigenous and Afro-descendant) communities opposing this industry.

Humanity is on a deeply unsustainable trajectory. We are exceeding planetary boundaries and unlikely to meet many international sustainable development goals and global environmental targets. Until recently, there was no broadly accepted framework of interventions that could ignite the transformations needed to achieve these desired targets and goals.

As a component of the IPBES Global Assessment, we conducted an iterative expert deliberation process with an extensive review of scenarios and pathways to sustainability, including the broader literature on indirect drivers, social change and sustainability transformation. We asked, what are the most important elements of pathways to sustainability?

Applying a social–ecological systems lens, we identified eight priority points for intervention (leverage points) and five overarching strategic actions and priority interventions (levers), which appear to be key to societal transformation. The eight leverage points are: (1) Visions of a good life, (2) Total consumption and waste, (3) Latent values of responsibility, (4) Inequalities, (5) Justice and inclusion in conservation, (6) Externalities from trade and other telecouplings, (7) Responsible technology, innovation and investment, and (8) Education and knowledge generation and sharing. The five intertwined levers can be applied across the eight leverage points and more broadly. These include: (A) Incentives and capacity building, (B) Coordination across sectors and jurisdictions, (C) Pre‐emptive action, (D) Adaptive decision‐making and (E) Environmental law and implementation. The levers and leverage points are all non‐substitutable, and each enables others, likely leading to synergistic benefits.

Transformative change towards sustainable pathways requires more than a simple scaling‐up of sustainability initiatives—it entails addressing these levers and leverage points to change the fabric of legal, political, economic and other social systems. These levers and leverage points build upon those approved within the Global Assessment's Summary for Policymakers, with the aim of enabling leaders in government, business, civil society and academia to spark transformative changes towards a more just and sustainable world.

Palm oil-based biodiesel in Indonesia is facing critical issue with regard to its sustainability status in both upstream and downstream sides. International market of palm oil keeps questioning this sustainability standard of Indonesia oil palm. Three interrelated dimensions of sustainability should be fulfilled only if a product to gain growing market acceptance internationally, i.e. economically profitable, ecologically sound and socially acceptable. To determine the sustainability of Indonesia’s palm oil-based biodiesel, this paper pays attention in particular to measuring sustainability status of biodiesel in the upstream to downstream side along its supply chain. The analysis of the sustainability of palm oil-based biodiesel in Indonesia is done thoroughly all related activities on the upstream (agricultural-cultivation activities) up to the downstream (manufacturing activities) side. A rap-bioenergy approach, which included the use of MDS (multidimensional scaling) analyses is applied in the analysis. The results of these analyses show that palm oil-based biodiesel in Indonesia is facing serious sustainability status. Among other three parameters, ecological aspect/parameter is a very serious one. This is especially the case for cultivation activities. This paper concludes that if Indonesia desires international markets to accept the existence of palm oil-based biodiesel, then improvements in ecological aspect should be priority.

The fast-growing palm oil economy has stimulated a significant expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia. The uncontrolled development of large oil palm plantations has raised complex socio-ecological issues, including changes of ecological landscapes, organization of production, and farming household livelihood systems. For two oil palm villages with different ecological settings, this article describes changes in land cover, how production is organized, and the income structure changes due to rural economic development. The research used survey approaches and analysis of earth maps, assisted by data obtained from satellite imagery. A qualitative approach was also used to support a survey via in-depth interviews. The research was carried out in two oil palm economy-based villages of Kutai Kartanegara District, of the Province of East Kalimantan of Indonesia. The first village is located very close to the center of regional administration and has evolved into a non-farming economy. In contrast, the other village is more isolated and solely relies on farming activities. The study found that changes of land cover caused by oil palm expansion could be categorized into two types, concentrated and spotted, following the influence of oil palm investment activities. It was also found that organization of the production of most smallholders existed in two types of arrangements, partial and total integration of production. From the perspective of livelihood, two different types of income structures emerged, diversified and uniform. This article concludes that responses of smallholders to palm oil spread varied depending on the ecological setting, the existence of the already established plantation economy in the region, the capacity of the smallholders to diversify economic activities based on palm oil, and the exposure to external economic activities.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) purport to report holistically on progress towards sustainability and do so using more than 231 discrete indicators, with a primary objective to achieve a balance between the environment, social and economic aspects of development. The research question underpinning the analyses presented in this paper is: are the indicators in the SDGs sufficient and fit for purpose to assess the trajectory of natural resources towards sustainability? We extracted the SDG indicators that monitor the state of natural resources, or alternately support policy or governance for their protection, and determined whether these are adequate to provide the essential data on natural resources to achieve the aims of the SDGs. The indicators are clustered into four natural resource categories—land, water (both marine and freshwater), air and biodiversity. Indicators for monitoring land resources show that the most comprehensive land resource indicator for degraded land is not fully implemented and that missing from land monitoring is an evaluation of vegetation health outside of forests and mountains, the condition of soils, and most importantly the overall health of terrestrial ecosystems. Indicators for monitoring water resources have substantial gaps, unable to properly monitor water quality, water stress, many aspects of marine resources and, most significantly, the health of fresh and salt water ecosystems. Indicators for monitoring of air have recently become more comprehensive, but linkage to IPCC results would benefit both programs. Monitoring of biodiversity is perhaps the greatest weakness of the SDG Agenda, having no comprehensive assessment even though narrow aspects are monitored. Again, deliberate linkages to other global biodiversity programs (e.g., CBD and the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, IPBES, and Living Planet) are recommended on condition that data can be defined at a country level. While the SDG list of indicators in support of natural resource is moderately comprehensive, it lacks holistic monitoring in relation to evaluation of ecosystems and biodiversity to the extent that these missing but vital measures of sustainability threaten the entire SDG Agenda. In addition, an emerging issue is that even where there are appropriate indicators, the amount of country-level data remains inadequate to fully evaluate sustainability. This signals the delicate balance between the extent and complexity of the SDG Agenda and uptake at a country level.

The current biodiversity crisis involves major shifts in biological communities at local and regional scales. The consequences for Earth's life‐support systems are increasingly well‐studied, but knowledge of how community shifts affect cultural services associated with wildlife lags behind. We integrated bird census data (3 years across 150 point‐count locations) with questionnaire surveys (>400 people) to evaluate changes in culturally important species across climate and land‐use gradients in Costa Rica. For farmers, urbanites, and birdwatchers alike, species valued for identity, bequest, birdwatching, acoustic aesthetics, and education were more likely to occupy wetter regions and forested sites, whereas disliked species tended to occupy drier and deforested sites. These results suggest that regional climate drying and habitat conversion in the Neotropics are likely to threaten the most culturally important bird species. This study provides a novel and generalizable pathway for assessing the effects of environmental changes on cultural services and integrating the sociocultural and ecological dimensions of biodiversity.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation presents a climate-change mitigation opportunity that is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and to achieving reductions in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) provides developing countries with results-based financial incentives for reducing deforestation and forest degradation through either non-market payments (payments without generation of carbon credits), or market-based mechanisms (carbon credits). REDD credits have been recently accepted to be used in offsetting programs (e.g., CORSIA) and are being considered under Article 6. However, various publications have questioned whether carbon credits from REDD should be accepted under market-based mechanisms, and have identified issues regarding their environmental integrity and their ability to offset emissions from other sectors. In recent years, REDD implementation has moved from the project level to the national or subnational (jurisdictional) level, and is addressing some of the concerns that have been raised for project-level interventions regarding the robustness of baselines and leakage, for example. In this paper we compare the environmental integrity of credits from REDD programs with that from on-grid renewable energy projects by examining aspects related to permanence, additionality, baselines, uncertainty, and leakage. We show that the environmental integrity of emission reductions sourced from REDD programs has unique strengths, and that those sourced from renewable energy projects have weaknesses of their own. Probably due to a lack of understanding of the respective weaknesses and strengths of these two sources of credits, the emission reductions from REDD programs have been historically questioned and subjected to a level of scrutiny that has not been made with emission reductions from other sectors, such as renewable energy projects. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of emission reductions from both types should help decision makers and carbon standards recognize the high quality of emission reductions from REDD programs, and rationalize the current requirements or restrictions imposed.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation presents a climate-change mitigation opportunity that is critical to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and to achieving reductions in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) provides developing countries with results-based financial incentives for reducing deforestation and forest degradation through either non-market payments (payments without generation of carbon credits), or market-based mechanisms (carbon credits). REDD credits have been recently accepted to be used in offsetting programs (e.g., CORSIA) and are being considered under Article 6. However, various publications have questioned whether carbon credits from REDD should be accepted under market-based mechanisms, and have identified issues regarding their environmental integrity and their ability to offset emissions from other sectors. In recent years, REDD implementation has moved from the project level to the national or subnational (jurisdictional) level, and is addressing some of the concerns that have been raised for project-level interventions regarding the robustness of baselines and leakage, for example. In this paper we compare the environmental integrity of credits from REDD programs with that from on-grid renewable energy projects by examining aspects related to permanence, additionality, baselines, uncertainty, and leakage. We show that the environmental integrity of emission reductions sourced from REDD programs has unique strengths, and that those sourced from renewable energy projects have weaknesses of their own. Probably due to a lack of understanding of the respective weaknesses and strengths of these two sources of credits, the emission reductions from REDD programs have been historically questioned and subjected to a level of scrutiny that has not been made with emission reductions from other sectors, such as renewable energy projects. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of emission reductions from both types should help decision makers and carbon standards recognize the high quality of emission reductions from REDD programs, and rationalize the current requirements or restrictions imposed.

The health of coastal human communities and marine ecosystems are at risk from a host of anthropogenic stressors, in particular, climate change. Because ecological health and human well-being are inextricably connected, effective and positive responses to current risks require multidisciplinary solutions. Yet, the complexity of coupled social–ecological systems has left many potential solutions unidentified or insufficiently explored. The urgent need to achieve positive social and ecological outcomes across local and global scales necessitates rapid and targeted multidisciplinary research to identify solutions that have the greatest chance of promoting benefits for both people and nature. To address these challenges, we conducted a forecasting exercise with a diverse, multidisciplinary team to identify priority research questions needed to promote sustainable and just marine social–ecological systems now and into the future, within the context of climate change and population growth. In contrast to the traditional reactive cycle of science and management, we aimed to generate questions that focus on what we need to know, before we need to know it. Participants were presented with the question, "If we were managing oceans in 2050 and looking back, what research, primary or synthetic, would wish we had invested in today?" We first identified major social and ecological events over the past 60 years that shaped current human relationships with coasts and oceans. We then used a modified Delphi approach to identify nine priority research areas and 46 questions focused on increasing sustainability and well-being in marine social–ecological systems. The research areas we identified include relationships between ecological and human health, access to resources, equity, governance, economics, resilience, and technology. Most questions require increased collaboration across traditionally distinct disciplines and sectors for successful study and implementation. By identifying these questions, we hope to facilitate the discourse, research, and policies needed to rapidly promote healthy marine ecosystems and the human communities that depend upon them.

The water-energy-food nexus concept is criticized as not yet fit for deeply integrated and contested governance agendas. One problem is how to achieve equitable risk governance and management where there is low consensus on priorities, poor inclusion and coordination of risk assessment procedures, and a weak emphasis placed on cross-scale and sectoral interactions over time. Participatory system dynamics modeling processes and analyses are promising approaches for such challenges but are currently underutilized in nexus research and policy. This paper shares our experience implementing one such analysis in the Mekong river basin, a paradigmatic example for international nexus research. Our transdisciplinary research design combined participatory causal loop diagramming processes, scenario modeling, and a new resilience analysis method to identify and test anticipated water-energy-food risks in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in northeastern Cambodia. Our process generated new understanding of potential cross-sectoral and cross-level risks from major hydropower development in the region. The results showed expected trade-offs between national level infrastructure programs and local level food security, but also some new insights into the effects local population increases may have on local food production and consumption even before hydropower developments are built. The analysis shows the benefit of evaluating risks in the nexus at different system levels and over time because of how system dynamics and inflection points are taken into account. Additionally, our case illustrates the contribution participatory system-thinking processes can make to risk assessment procedures for complex systems transitions. We originally anticipated that any new capacity reported by partners and participants would come from our modeling results produced at the end of the process. However, participants in the modeling procedures also found the experience powerful the information sharing, rapid risk assessment, and personal learning it enabled. A lesson from our experience reinforces a message from the transdisciplinary research field that has not yet been absorbed into the nexus research and policy field wholeheartedly: we do not have to wait for perfect data and incontestable results before making a positive contribution to anticipating and responding to risks that emerge from nexus relations if we apply participatory and systems-thinking informed approaches.

Climate change is expected to dramatically alter the distribution of many marine megafauna, impacting the people and economies that depend upon them. We build on the recent literature by developing a framework to describe the effects these changes will have on marine megafauna. With the goal to assist policymakers and grass roots organizers, we identify three illustrative pathways by which climate change drives these range shifts: (1) effects on habitat and shelter, (2) impacts on reproduction and disease, and (3) changing distribution of sources of food. We examine non-climate factors that may constrain or enable megafauna to adapt, creating winners and losers both for the species and the people dependent upon them. Finally, we comment on what management strategies exist at international and local scales that could help mitigate these impacts of climate change so that we, as a global community, can ensure that marine megafauna and people can best co-exist in a changing world.

To reverse the accelerating degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services (‘nature’) and climate [1,2], the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will hold major meetings in 2021. We argue that, as a critical priority, countries need to design and implement integrated national strategies to achieve the goals of the three Rio Conventions (including the UN Convention to Combat Desertification—UNCCD) using spatially explicit analyses and policies. This integration can maximize co-benefits and help manage trade-offs to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Nature-based solutions (NBS) provide an important framework for such integration.

An advantage of our proposal is that it requires no negotiations among governments, since available convention instruments can achieve this integration. In particular, long-term low-emission development strategies (LT-LEDS) under the Paris Agreement could play a critical role by requiring a spatially explicit approach to NBS and other land uses. Moreover, China has recently introduced major domestic policy innovations that hold important lessons for designing and implementing spatially explicit policy frameworks to simultaneously pursue the objectives of Rio Conventions. We argue that countries can learn from experiences in China and elsewhere to integrate nature, climate and sustainable management of land and ocean, including targeted conservation and restoration of nature, into their LT-LEDS. We also highlight key design and implementation challenges.

The rising importance of cities, states and regions, firms, investors, and other subnational and non-state actors in global and national responses to climate change raises a critical question: to what extent does this climate action deliver results? This article introduces a conceptual framework that researchers and practitioners can use as a template to assess the progress, implementation, and impact of climate action by sub- and non-state actors. This framework is used to review existing studies that track progress, implementation, and achievement of such climate action between 2014 and mid-2019. While researchers have made important advances in assessing the scope and future potential of sub- and non-state climate action, we find knowledge gaps around ex-post achievement of results, indirect impacts, and climate action beyond the realm of greenhouse gas reductions.

The environmental costs of human activities (Steffen et al., 2007) and the social and psychological costs of overconsumption and materialism (Dittmar et al., 2014) underscore the importance of identifying whether and how individuals can reduce their consumption while improving their well-being. Interest in this ‘double dividend’ (Alfredsson et al., 2018; Jackson, 2008) was sparked by evidence of a threshold beyond which additional GDP or household income has little impact on well-being, happiness or life satisfaction (Easterlin et al., 2010; Kahneman and Deaton, 2010; though see Pouwels et al., 2008 for evidence that the positive effect of income on well-being may be underestimated). This literature was coupled with evidence that materialist values and the desire for higher income are associated with lower well-being and life satisfaction (Diener and Seligman, 2004; Kasser, 2017) to suggest that sustainable consumption may not require sacrifice and may, in fact, be rewarding.

Recent studies have explored the double dividend at the macro-level by measuring the environmental efficiency of well-being (EWEB) (Dietz et al., 2009; Knight and Rosa, 2011), or carbon intensity of well-being (Jorgenson and Givens, 2015) to identify nations with high levels of well-being despite relatively small environmental impacts. Other studies have measured EWEB at the household (Ambrey and Daniels, 2017) or individual level (Claborn and Brooks, 2019), explored correlations between subjective well-being and carbon emissions (Andersson et al., 2014; Verhofstadt et al., 2016), and examined whether involvement in voluntary simplicity movements is associated with higher life satisfaction (Alexander and Ussher, 2012; Rich et al., 2017).

These and other individual- or household-level studies have found mixed evidence for the double-dividend (see also Verhofstadt et al., 2016; Vita et al., 2019; Schmitt et al., 2018), which suggests that double-dividend relationships are complex, and limitations in existing research may have made it difficult to detect specific tradeoffs and synergies between sustainable consumption and well-being. More specifically, existing studies have tended to use aggregate measures of consumption (e.g., transportation and shelter) and/or unidimensional measures of well-being (e.g., one-item measurement) and have generally not accounted for how local socio-cultural context, such as norms and culture, may shape the relationship between sustainable consumption and well-being.

With this study, we address the above shortcomings and examine whether and which sustainable consumption behaviors are associated with higher well-being, and whether these relationships depend on one's socio-cultural context. We sample two neighborhoods to assess differences in local contextual factors. We also examine whether residents' income, rather than neighborhood context, influences the relationship between sustainable consumption and well-being. We define sustainable consumption as behaviors that contribute to a smaller ecological footprint relative to more environmentally impactful alternatives. Included in this conceptualization are “curtailment” behaviors (e.g. purchasing fewer material goods like clothing or electronics; Karlin et al., 2014), “efficiency” behaviors (e.g. driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle), and behaviors intended to reduce waste (e.g. recycling paper and plastic).

Indo-Pacific lionfish have become invasive throughout the western Atlantic. Their predatory effects have been the focus of much research and are suggested to cause declines in native fish abundance and diversity across the invaded range. However, little is known about their non-consumptive effects, or their effects on invertebrates. Lionfish use shelters on the reef, thus there is potential for competition with other shelter-dwelling organisms. We demonstrate similar habitat associations between invasive lionfish, native spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus) and native long-spined sea urchins (Diadema antillarum), indicating the potential for competition. We then used a laboratory experiment to compare activity and shelter use of each species when alone and when lionfish were paired with each native species. Spiny lobsters increased their activity but did not change their shelter use in the presence of a lionfish, whilst long-spined sea urchins changed neither their activity nor shelter use. However, lionfish reduced their shelter use in the presence of spiny lobsters and long-spined sea urchins. This study highlights the importance not only of testing for the non-consumptive effects of invasive species, but also exploring whether native species exert non-consumptive effects on the invasive.

We developed criteria for inferring competitive interactions based on time, space, and resource use and using billfish landings data collected through the creel survey, fishery-dependent sampling, and tagging. Results from tag recaptures show that both fishing sectors are capturing the same billfish resource, with a dominance of sailfish landings. No significant difference in the average landings between artisanal and recreational sectors indicates equal demand for the billfish resource in terms of target species, geographic distribution, and seasonality. Therefore, suggesting competitive interactions between the recreational and artisanal sectors, which have significant implications for management and socio-economic benefits for coastal communities.

In the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region, information and data on marine recreational fisheries (MRF) is lacking, which undermines efforts towards their sustainable development. Our paper reviews the challenges and opportunities for sustainably developing marine recreational fisheries in the WIO. We identified several challenges that are discussed in two broad categories: (i) governance and (ii) socio-cultural and economic. We also show that addressing these challenges requires a holistic understanding of the socio-ecological complexities and the multi-scale nature of WIO MRF. Realizing the potential for sustainable development of this sector calls for the involvement of coastal communities in the sharing of benefits and decision-making. Further, coordinated efforts between the multi-government agencies and non-governmental organizations is critical for integrating recreational fisheries into local and national agendas. We conclude that the sustainable development of MRF in the WIO region is possible. Still, such growth will be dependent upon the sustained capacity building of coastal communities and indigenous fishers, collaboration from stakeholders, and the long-term sustainability of the resource.

Habitat restoration will prove critical if we are to reverse current population declines and extinction rates of Threatened species. This is particularly the case for forest restoration, given that >80% of Threatened species live in forests and they are habitat for 80% of amphibians, 75% of birds, 68% of mammals and approximately 60% of all tropical vascular plants. While the UN General Assembly has declared 2021 to 2030 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and the Bonn Challenge aims to place at least 350 million hectares of degraded landscapes under restoration, to date there remains little guidance on where to target restoration efforts to support Threatened species. We conduct a global analysis of terrestrial vertebrate species listed as Threatened and Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species that occur in forests and have Habitat and Natural Processes Restoration as a recommended conservation action. The analysis identifies critical restoration regions that host Threatened species whose recovery could benefit from effective forest or landscape restoration strategies. With habitat restoration as an important solution to reversing declining population trends and extinctions of Threatened forest species, identification of these critical landscapes should help guide future forest restoration efforts towards locations where they may benefit the maximum number of Threatened species.

Over decades, biodiversity conservation researchers and practitioners have developed theories and conceptual frameworks to inform the planning, implementation, and evaluation of community‐based conservation (CBC). While a diversity of mechanisms for understanding and supporting CBC has helped tailor approaches to local needs and conditions, the absence of a unified lens to understand CBC has limited the capacity for integrating foundational theory into practice more systemically, and for learning across different projects, stakeholders, and institutions. We introduce a theory‐based framework called “the CBC framework” that draws upon three foundational theories from sociology, economics, and political science to understand the establishment, persistence, and diffusion of CBC. Experience applying aspects of the framework within different conservation organizations demonstrates how this integrative approach can provide a gateway for practitioners to engage with social science theory to understand the status and context of CBC interventions and efforts. For practitioners, scientists, evaluators, and strategists, the framework can guide the design of CBC interventions and monitoring and evaluation systems to facilitate theory‐based learning and enable evidence‐informed decision‐making. Approaches like the CBC framework that facilitate collaborative planning, evaluation, and research can help better integrate social science theory in conservation practice while increasing the capacity for conservation scientists, practitioners, and stakeholders to learn together and adaptively manage CBC to deliver positive results for both people and nature.

Contrary to most terrestrial organisms, which release their carbon into the atmosphere after death, carcasses of large marine fish sink and sequester carbon in the deep ocean. Yet, fisheries have extracted a massive amount of this “blue carbon,” contributing to additional atmospheric CO2 emissions. Here, we used historical catches and fuel consumption to show that ocean fisheries have released a minimum of 0.73 billion metric tons of CO2 (GtCO2) in the atmosphere since 1950. Globally, 43.5% of the blue carbon extracted by fisheries in the high seas comes from areas that would be economically unprofitable without subsidies. Limiting blue carbon extraction by fisheries, particularly on unprofitable areas, would reduce CO2 emissions by burning less fuel and reactivating a natural carbon pump through the rebuilding of fish stocks and the increase of carcasses deadfall.

Facing public concern over costs related to top-predator reintroductions and conservation, ecosystem services such as ecotourism are often used to evoke benefits that outweigh or offset those costs. Quantifying these benefits using rigorous scientific methods can provide confidence to policymakers and other stakeholders that predators can in fact deliver positive outcomes to people living alongside them. The evaluation of these benefits is often anecdotal or qualitative, however, and empirical quantifications are rare.

Concern for megafauna is increasing among scientists and non-scientists. Many studies have emphasized that megafauna play prominent ecological roles and provide important ecosystem services to humanity. But, what precisely are 'megafauna'? Here, we critically assess the concept of megafauna and propose a goal-oriented framework for megafaunal research. First, we review definitions of megafauna and analyse associated terminology in the scientific literature. Second, we conduct a survey among ecologists and palaeontologists to assess the species traits used to identify and define megafauna. Our review indicates that definitions are highly dependent on the study ecosystem and research question, and primarily rely on ad hoc size-related criteria. Our survey suggests that body size is crucial, but not necessarily sufficient, for addressing the different applications of the term megafauna. Thus, after discussing the pros and cons of existing definitions, we propose an additional approach by defining two function-oriented megafaunal concepts: 'keystone megafauna' and 'functional megafauna', with its variant 'apex megafauna'. Assessing megafauna from a functional perspective could challenge the perception that there may not be a unifying definition of megafauna that can be applied to all eco-evolutionary narratives. In addition, using functional definitions of megafauna could be especially conducive to cross-disciplinary understanding and cooperation, improvement of conservation policy and practice, and strengthening of public perception. As megafaunal research advances, we encourage scientists to unambiguously define how they use the term 'megafauna' and to present the logic underpinning their definition.

In many savannah regions of Africa, pronounced seasonal variability in rainfall results in wildlife being restricted to floodplains and other habitats adjacent to permanent surface water in the dry season. During the wet season, rainfall fills small‐scale, ephemeral water sources that allow wildlife to exploit forage and other resources far from permanent surface water. These water sources remain difficult to quantify, however, due to their small and ephemeral nature, and as a result are rarely included in quantitative studies of wildlife distribution, abundance, and movement. Our goal was to map ephemeral water in Bwabwata National Park in Namibia using two different approaches and to relate measures of ephemeral water to the abundance, distribution, and movement of two large wildlife species. We used high‐resolution Google Earth and Esri World imagery to visually identify waterholes. Additionally, we used Sentinel‐2 satellite imagery to map ephemeral water across the study area using the Normalized Difference Water Index. With these mapped waterhole layers and data from GPS‐collared individuals of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), we evaluated the importance of ephemeral water in conditioning abundance and movement of these two species. The two approaches to mapping ephemeral water resulted in the visual identification of nearly 10,000 waterholes, and a predicted ephemeral water layer of ~76% accuracy. The inclusion of ephemeral water into models of abundance and movement resulted in improved goodness of fit relative to those without water, and water impacts on abundance and movement were among the strongest of all variables considered. The potential importance of ephemeral water in conditioning the movements and distributions of large herbivores in African savannahs has been difficult to quantify relative to vegetation drivers. Our results suggest research into ephemeral water impacts deserves more attention.

Outdoor recreation is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world and provides many benefits to people. Assessing possible negative impacts of recreation is nevertheless important for sustainable management. Here, we used camera traps to assess relative effects of various recreational activities—as compared to each other and to environmental conditions—on a terrestrial wildlife assemblage in British Columbia, Canada. Across 13 species, only two negative associations between recreational activities and wildlife detections were observed at weekly scales: mountain biking on moose and grizzly bears. However, finer‐scale analysis showed that all species avoided humans on trails, with avoidance strongest for mountain biking and motorized vehicles. Our results imply that environmental factors generally shaped broad‐scale patterns of wildlife use, but highlight that recreational activities also have detectable impacts. These impacts can be monitored using the same camera‐trapping techniques that are commonly used to monitor wildlife assemblages.

Healthy rivers provide a broad range of services that benefit economies and communities but the concepts of water security, as well as water management in practice, have tended to focus on a narrow set of those services. Accomplishing the diverse objectives bundled under water security—including water quantity and quality, linkages with food security, risk management and ecosystem conservation—will require a more holistic valuing of rivers’ services coupled with policies and mechanisms to maintain and restore those values. Rivers have typically been viewed as sources of water to support irrigation, water supply or hydropower. While the water that rivers provide often has immense value to economies—and thus it is this role where rivers are well represented within frameworks for water security—rivers provide a diverse range of other services that encompass, but extend beyond, water as a resource that can be defined by volume or quality. These services can also produce vital benefits for economies and communities and they are generated by rivers as complex biophysical systems, not just as conduits for delivering water. Examples of these services include fisheries, floodplains that reduce flood risk, sediment delivery to deltas, and components of the channel network that regulate water quantity and quality. Concepts such as natural capital and ecosystem services are intended to better value these services, however the valuations produced are often not effectively integrated into decisions or management. Although rigorous science provides an important foundation for embedding the value of rivers within water security, translating those values into management and policy will require the communication of river values into terms and numbers that matter to key audiences and the assembly of coalitions to translate value into action.

Palm oil makes a significant contribution to the economies of Indonesia and Malaysia through private corporations, state-owned companies and smallholders, with the two countries supplying 85% of the global palm oil. Indonesia has 14 million hectares (ha) of oil palm; its palm oil exports were valued at USD 23 billion in 2017 and USD 21 billion in 2018. Both domestic and international communities, particularly the European Union (EU), have raised concerns about its sustainability and impact on forest conservation. For example, the European Parliament in 2017 issued a resolution to restrict the ability of EU countries to count palm oil-based biodiesel imports toward their renewable 2030 energy targets. This paper describes palm oil value chains in Indonesia at the national level, using value chain analysis and system dynamics modeling. The model is used to understand how the moratorium, peatland conservation, agrarian reform, and the EU biodiesel ban affect plantation expansion and production, employment, CO2 emissions, smallholder incomes, the private sector, and government. The model provides scenarios to make Indonesian palm oil more sustainable through intensification, no-deforestation, and no-peat strategies, as well as through land swapping. There are trade-offs between economic development and environmental conservation, but win-win solutions are available. Scenarios that build synergies between Indonesian palm oil development and forest conservation can help guide the new frontiers of oil palm development in Asia, South America, and Africa.

Collisions between ships and whales raise environmental, safety, and economic concerns. The management of whale-ship collisions, however, lacks a holistic approach, unlike the management of other types of wildlife-vehicle collisions, which have been more standardized for several years now. In particular, safety and economic factors are routinely omitted in the assessment of proposed mitigation solutions to ship strikes, possibly leading to under-compliance and a lack of acceptance from the stakeholders. In this study, we estimate the probability of ship damage due to a whale-ship collision. While the probability of damage is low, the costs could be important, suggesting that property damages are significant enough to be taken into consideration when assessing solutions. Lessons learned from other types of wildlife-vehicle collisions suggest that the whale-ship collision should be managed as wildlife-aircraft collisions. For several years, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) manages collisions between aircrafts and wildlife at the international level. We advocate that its United Nations counterpart, namely the International Maritime Organization (IMO), get more involved in the whale-ship collision management. Further research is needed to more precisely quantify the costs incurred to ships from damages caused by whale-ship collisions.

Whale-ship collisions represent a threat to some whale population survival. The shipping industry rarely adopts solutions to reduce the risk of collisions. This lack of compliance is partly due to the fact that previous work has failed to assess the economic and logistic constraints these solutions put on the shipping industry. Our work explored for the first time the logistical considerations affecting the adoption of whale-ship collision avoidance approaches by shipping companies. We used a choice experiment approach to assess the shipping industry’s preferences for mitigation solutions, by questioning ship crews. Amongst other things, our results demonstrated a preference for avoiding a high-density whale area instead of reducing speed in it, and a requirement for upstream information to plan the journey depending on these areas. Our findings could be used as guidelines for the implementation of mitigation solutions depending on situational characteristics (e.g., travel distance, area’s size) and provide insights for policy-making to reduce the risk of whale-ship collisions.

Quantifying ecological condition, notably the extent of forest degradation is important for understanding and designing measures to protect biodiversity and enhancing the capacity of forests to deliver ecosystem services. Conservation planning, particularly the prioritization of management interventions for forests, is often lacking spatial data on forest degradation, and it is often overlooked within decision-making processes. We develop a continuous metric termed Forest Condition (FC) which aims to measure the degree of forest degradation on a scale from 0 to 100, incorporating the temporal history of forest change over any spatial extent. We parameterize this metric based on estimated changes in above ground biomass in the context of forest fragmentation over time to estimate a continuous measure of forest degradation for Congo Basin countries. We estimate that just <70% of Congo Basin forests remain fully intact, a decrease from 78% in the year 2000. FC was validated by direct remote sensing measurements from Landsat imagery for DRC. Results showed that FC was significantly positively correlated with forest canopy cover, gap area per hectare, and magnitude of temporal change in Normalized Burn Ratio. We tested the ability of FC to distinguish primary and secondary degradation and deforestation and found significant differences in gap area and spectral anomalies to validate our theoretical model. We apply the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria to demonstrate the integration of forest condition to assess the risk of ecosystem collapse. Based on this assessment, we found that without including FC in the assessment of biotic disruption, 12 ecosystems representing over 11% of forested area in 2015 would not have been assigned a threat status, and an additional 9 ecosystems would have a lower threat status. Our overall assessment of ecosystems found about half of all Congo Basin ecosystem types, accounting for 20% of all forest area are threatened to some degree, including 4 ecosystems (<1% of total area) which are critically engendered. FC is a transferrable and scalable assessment to support forest monitoring, planning, and management.

Protected areas (PAs) are an essential tool for freshwater biodiversity conservation. Given past and expected future global increases in dams and impacts of dams on freshwater ecosystems, we document the number of dams existing or planned within PAs, their history, and the extent of PA downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) proximally caused by dams. Globally, at least 1,249 large dams are located within PAs; two‐thirds (907) were built before PA establishment. Additionally, 14% of planned geolocated hydropower dams (509 dams) are located within PAs. PADDD events have also legalized dam construction within existing PAs. Environmental safeguards should preclude development of dams within or adjacent to PAs and prioritize dams within PAs for possible removal and restoration.

Despite their limited spatial extent, freshwater ecosystems host remarkable biodiversity, including one-third of all vertebrate species. This biodiversity is declining dramatically: Globally, wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests, and freshwater vertebrate populations have fallen more than twice as steeply as terrestrial or marine populations. Threats to freshwater biodiversity are well documented but coordinated action to reverse the decline is lacking. We present an Emergency Recovery Plan to bend the curve of freshwater biodiversity loss. Priority actions include accelerating implementation of environmental flows; improving water quality; protecting and restoring critical habitats; managing the exploitation of freshwater ecosystem resources, especially species and riverine aggregates; preventing and controlling nonnative species invasions; and safeguarding and restoring river connectivity. We recommend adjustments to targets and indicators for the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals and roles for national and international state and nonstate actors.

Human activities that threaten ecosystems often vary across small spatial scales, though they can be driven by large-scale factors like national governance. Here, we use two decades of data on global mangrove deforestation to assess whether landscape-scale indirect pressures – cumulative impacts, population density, mangrove forest fragmentation, the global human footprint – and management responses (protected areas) are related to rates of mangrove loss, and whether the impacts of these activities vary by nation. By integrating rates of loss at different spatial scales into a Bayesian hierarchical model, we also assess whether national-scale patterns in mangrove loss are predicted by national regulatory quality. Globally, less fragmented forests had lower rates of mangrove loss. We observed variability among nations in the effect of pressures and management responses on mangrove loss. National regulatory quality mediated how pressures and management interact to influence mangrove loss. Protected areas had a greater benefit for slowing mangrove loss rates in countries with low, rather than high, regulatory quality, ostensibly because countries with higher regulatory quality have greater protection of mangroves outside of protected areas. High population densities were also associated with greater mangrove loss, but only in nations with low regulatory quality. We suggest that efforts to protect mangrove forests will benefit from developing solutions that consider national context and address differences in the effect of pressures and cumulative impacts. Our model can also be applied to other globally threatened ecosystems to understand how variation in local context can affect national-scale conservation outcomes.

Enteric methane emissions are the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in beef and dairy value chains and a substantial contributor to anthropogenic methane emissions globally. In late 2019, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) convened approximately 50 stakeholders representing research and production of seaweeds, animal feeds, dairy cattle, and beef and dairy foods to discuss challenges and opportunities associated with the use of seaweed-based ingredients to reduce enteric methane emissions. This Perspective article describes the considerations identified by the workshop participants and suggests next steps for the further development and evaluation of seaweed-based feed ingredients as enteric methane mitigants. Although numerous compounds derived from sources other than seaweed have been identified as having enteric methane mitigation potential, these mitigants are outside the scope of this article.

This Research Topic represents the proceedings for the European Coral Reef Symposium (ECRS), which took place 13th–15th December, 2017 in Oxford, UK. ECRS was organised by the Reef Conservation United Kingdom (RCUK) committee, in association with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), University of Oxford, and the International Coral Reef Society (ICRS). Over 550 coral reef scientists and conservationists joined the meeting for a series of talks, posters, and workshops. In addition to the papers in this Research Topic, ECRS provided a platform for many other coral reef-related events and outputs. For example, the symposium hosted the European launch of the 2018 International Year of the Reef on the 13th December 2017, and several of the workshops produced published outputs (e.g., Turner et al., 2019).


Without drastic efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate globalized stressors, tropical coral reefs are in jeopardy. Strategic conservation and management requires identification of the environmental and socioeconomic factors driving the persistence of scleractinian coral assemblages—the foundation species of coral reef ecosystems. Here, we compiled coral abundance data from 2,584 Indo-Pacific reefs to evaluate the influence of 21 climate, social and environmental drivers on the ecology of reef coral assemblages. Higher abundances of framework-building corals were typically associated with: weaker thermal disturbances and longer intervals for potential recovery; slower human population growth; reduced access by human settlements and markets; and less nearby agriculture. We therefore propose a framework of three management strategies (protect, recover or transform) by considering: (1) if reefs were above or below a proposed threshold of >10% cover of the coral taxa important for structural complexity and carbonate production; and (2) reef exposure to severe thermal stress during the 2014–2017 global coral bleaching event. Our findings can guide urgent management efforts for coral reefs, by identifying key threats across multiple scales and strategic policy priorities that might sustain a network of functioning reefs in the Indo-Pacific to avoid ecosystem collapse.

1. This study provides evidence that a heliophilic butterfly, the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) has adapted differently to environmental variation across latitudes and elevations.

2. In cool air, basking M. cinxia orient themselves perpendicular to the sun's rays to gain heat and take off. During flight, solar heating is reduced because orientation perpendicular to the sun is no longer possible and convective cooling occurs. Consequently, M. cinxia have been shown to suffer net heat loss in flight, even in full sunshine. When flight duration is restricted in this way, the takeoff temperature becomes an important thermal adaptation.

3. Using a thermal imaging camera, takeoff temperatures were measured in experimental butterflies. Butterflies from the northern range limit in Finland took flight at slightly hotter temperatures than butterflies from the southern limit in Spain, and much hotter than butterflies from the elevational limit (1900-2300 m) in the French Alps. Butterflies from low-elevation populations in southern France also took off much hotter than did the nearby Alpine population.

4. These results suggest that the influence of elevation is different from that of latitude in more respects than ambient temperature. Values of solar irradiance in the butterflies' flight season in each region show that insects from the coolest habitats, Finland and the Alps, experienced similar solar irradiance during basking, but that Finns experienced much lower irradiance in flight. This difference may have favored Finnish butterflies evolving higher takeoff temperatures than Alpine butterflies that also flew in cool air but benefited from more intense radiant energy after takeoff.

Wildlife is an essential component of all ecosystems. Most places in the globe do not have local, timely information on which species are present or how their populations are changing. With the arrival of new technologies, camera traps have become a popular way to collect wildlife data. However, data collection has increased at a much faster rate than the development of tools to manage, process and analyse these data. Without these tools, wildlife managers and other stakeholders have little information to effectively manage, understand and monitor wildlife populations. We identify four barriers that are hindering the widespread use of camera trap data for conservation. We propose specific solutions to remove these barriers integrated in a modern technology platform called Wildlife Insights. We present an architecture for this platform and describe its main components. We recognize and discuss the potential risks of publishing shared biodiversity data and a framework to mitigate those risks. Finally, we discuss a strategy to ensure platforms like Wildlife Insights are sustainable and have an enduring impact on the conservation of wildlife.

A variety of policy interventions from public authorities and private companies attempt to reduce deforestation in private forest concessions. These include fines for illegal deforestation and market incentives for forest management practices that meet sustainability standards. While some studies have found significant differences in forest outcomes between concessions that participate in sustainability commitments and those that do not, others have found small or inconclusive differences. We contribute to this literature by examining all privately allocated concessions in the Peruvian Amazon to determine whether sustainability commitments correspond with lower deforestation rates. Conversely, we examine whether fines correspond with higher deforestation rates, a question for which fewer analyses have been published. Using matching methods, we do not find significantly different deforestation rates between control groups and logging concessions with third party environmental certification. We also do not see significant differences in deforestation rates in petroleum concessions managed by companies who have made sustainability commitments. Regarding punitive fines, we do not find significant differences in deforestation rates between control groups and logging concessions with fines levied. The same holds true for fines levied in brazil nut concessions. Potential explanations for these findings include insufficient monitoring or inadequate stringency for sustainability commitments, and insufficiently punitive fines or low enforcement levels.

Stabilizing Earth's climate and limiting temperature increase to well below 2°C per the Paris Agreement requires a dramatic uptick in the rate of progress on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Natural climate solutions (NCS) can be a substantial contributor, while also providing valuable cobenefits for people and ecosystems. Although analyses of NCS have some differences in the GHG fluxes they consider, all include emissions sources (such as deforestation, land-use change, and agricultural practices), emissions sinks (such as reforestation and restoring degraded lands), and non–carbon dioxide (CO2) agricultural emissions (such as methane from livestock). Some of us have contributed to among the most optimistic assessments of the potential of NCS (1), whereas others have been more pessimistic (2, 3). But one thing on which we agree, and which technical literature generally acknowledges, is that the benefits of NCS do not decrease the imperative for mitigation from the energy and industrial sectors (2, 4, 5). Yet this point sometimes gets lost in public-facing conversations [for example, are forests "our best weapon for fighting carbon emissions" or, more realistically, just one "piece of the puzzle"? (6)]. Strategies for incorporating NCS with energy and industrial mitigation in the climate portfolio should not be "either/or" but "yes, and."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) makes clear that most scenarios (90%) that hold warming to 1.5°C by 2100 include an overshoot, or a period in which the temperature increase exceeds 1.5°C before declining to the end-of-century 1.5°C goal (IPCC 2018). An overshoot is also possible for 2°C scenarios, given the lack of ambition in existing mitigation commitments. Current conservation policy and planning does not adequately account for the high likelihood of a temperature overshoot in a 1.5°C scenario, but the impacts of an overshoot on conservation may be large. Efforts to avoid an overshoot must be increased through more ambitious mitigation commitments and a greater focus on peak warming rather than end-of-century outcomes. Simultaneously, conservation planning should account for such impacts by anticipating more dynamic systems that carry greater uncertainties and potentially irreversible changes that may persist even as temperatures peak and decline.

The Caribbean and Western Atlantic region hosts one of the world's most diverse geopolitical regions and a unique marine biota distinct from tropical seas in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. While this region varies in human population density, GDP and wealth, coral reefs, and their associated ecosystem services, are central to people's livelihoods. Unfortunately, the region's reefs have experienced extensive degradation over the last several decades. This degradation has been attributed to a combination of disease, overfishing, and multiple pressures from other human activities. Furthermore, the Caribbean region has experienced rapid ocean warming and acidification as a result of climate change that will continue and accelerate throughout the 21st century. It is evident that these changes will pose increasing threats to Caribbean reefs unless imminent actions are taken at the local, regional and global scale. Active management is required to sustain Caribbean reefs and increase their resilience to recover from acute stress events. Here, we propose local and regional solutions to halt and reverse Caribbean coral reef degradation under ongoing ocean warming and acidification. Because the Caribbean has already experienced high coral reef degradation, we suggest that this region may be suitable for more aggressive interventions that might not be suitable for other regions. Solutions with direct ecological benefits highlighted here build on existing knowledge of factors that can contribute to reef restoration and increased resilience in the Caribbean: (1) management of water quality, (2) reduction of unsustainable fishing practices, (3) application of ecological engineering, and (4) implementing marine spatial planning. Complementary socioeconomic and governance solutions include: (1) increasing communication and leveraging resources through the establishment of a regional reef secretariat, (2) incorporating reef health and sustainability goals into the blue economy plans for the region, and (3) initiating a reef labeling program to incentivize corporate partnerships for reef restoration and protection to sustain overall reef health in the region.

The expansion of oil palm plantations in Papua province, Indonesia, involves the conversion of forests, among other land types in the landscapes, which are a source of clan members' livelihoods. The way in which this expansion occurs makes it necessary to understand the factors associated with why companies look for frontier lands and what externalities are generated during both the land acquisition and plantation development periods. Using a spatial analysis of the concession areas, along with data from household surveys of each clan from the Auyu, Mandobo, and Marind tribes who release land to companies, we find that investors are motivated to profit from timber harvested from the clearing of lands for plantations, activity that is facilitated by the local government. Land acquisition and plantation development have resulted in externalities to indigenous landowners in the form of time and money lost in a series of meetings and consultations involving clan members and traditional elders. Other externalities include the reduced welfare of people due to loss of livelihoods, and impacts on food security.

The signing of the Paris climate agreement and sustainable development goals demonstrated an international commitment to halting climate change, increasing energy access, and maintaining biodiversity. Successful implementation requires rapidly expanding renewable energy development, which has a large land footprint and can conflict with maintaining natural lands. To quantify the potential to mediate this land conflict, we converted emission reduction commitments submitted as part of the Paris agreement into actionable energy targets, and assessed whether they can be met by developing renewables on converted lands and waters of lower biodiversity and carbon value. The world has 19 times the required energy targets on converted lands, and most countries, including the top ten emitters, can meet the Paris agreement goals. Furthermore, regions (e.g. Africa) that will experience substantial population growth and that currently have limited energy infrastructure can meet their Paris agreement and future energy targets by developing renewable energy on already converted lands. Guiding renewable energy development to converted lands presents opportunities for sustainable development, but also requires incentives and proactive planning to ensure expansion does not exacerbate other environmental challenges.

Land-use changes and the expansion of protected areas (PAs) have amplified the interaction between protected and unprotected areas worldwide. In this context, 'interface processes' (human–nature and cross-boundary interactions inside and around PAs) have become central to issues around the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This scientific literature review aimed to explore current knowledge and research gaps on interface processes regarding terrestrial PAs. At first, 3,515 references related to the topic were extracted through a standardized search on the Web of Science and analyzed with scientometric techniques. Next, a full-text analysis was conducted on a sample of 240 research papers. A keyword analysis revealed a wide diversity of research topics, from 'pure' ecology to sociopolitical research. We found a bias in the geographical distribution of research, with half the papers focusing on eight countries. Additionally, we found that the spatial extent of cross-boundary interactions was rarely assessed, preventing any clear delimitation of PA interactive zones. In the 240 research papers we scanned, we identified 403 processes that were studied. The ecological effects of PAs were well documented and appeared to be positive overall. In contrast, the effects of PAs on local communities were understudied and, according to the literature focusing on these, were very variable according to local contexts. Our findings highlight key research advances on interface processes, especially regarding the ecological outcomes of PAs, the influence of human activities on biodiversity, and PA governance issues. In contrast, main knowledge gaps concern the spatial extent of interactive zones, as well as the interactions between local people and conservation actions and how to promote synergies between them. While the review was limited to terrestrial PAs, its findings allow us to propose research priorities for tackling environmental and socioeconomic challenges in the face of a rapidly changing world.

Winter can be a limiting time of year for many temperate species, who must access depressed prey resources to meet energetic demands. The swift fox (Vulpes velox (Say, 1823)) was extirpated from Canada and Montana (USA) by 1969, but was reintroduced in the 1980s to Canada, and subsequently spread into northern Montana. Swift foxes in this region are at the current northern range edge where winter conditions are harsher and persist longer than in their southern range (i.e., Colorado (USA) to Texas (USA)). We collected fine-scale locational data from swift foxes fitted with global positioning system collars to examine movement and resource-use patterns during winter of 2016–2017 in northeastern Montana. Our results suggest that swift foxes displayed three distinct movement patterns (i.e., resting, foraging, and travelling) during the winter. Distance to road decreased relative probability of use by 39%–46% per kilometre across all movement states and individuals, whereas the influence of topographic roughness and distance to crop field varied among movement states and individuals. Overall, while our findings are based on data from three individuals, our study suggests that across movement states during the critical winter season, swift foxes are likely using topography and areas near roads to increase their ability to detect predators.

Despite the plethora of discourse about how sustainable development should be pursued, the production of agricultural commodities is held responsible for driving c. 80% of global deforestation. Partially as a response, the private sector has made commitments to eliminate deforestation, but it is not yet clear what factors these commitments should take into account to effectively halt deforestation while also contributing to broader sustainable development. In the context of private sector commitments to zero-deforestation, this study characterizes the perceptions of different types of stakeholders along the cocoa and chocolate supply chain in order to determine the main challenges and solutions to encourage sustainable production. The main purpose is to understand the key factors that could facilitate a transition to a more sustainable supply while harmonizing the multiple actors’ interests. A qualitative thematic analysis of perceptions was conducted based on responses from 59 interviews with different stakeholders along the cocoa and chocolate supply chain in six key producing and consuming countries. Thematic analysis of the responses revealed six main themes: (1) make better use of policies, regulations and markets to help promote sustainability; (2) improve information and data (e.g., impacts of climate change on cocoa) to inform sound interventions; (3) focus on the landscape rather than the farm-level alone and improve integration of supply chain actors; (4) promote better coordination between stakeholders and initiatives (e.g., development assistance projects and corporate sustainability efforts); (5) focus on interdependent relationships between social, environmental and economic dimensions to achieve sustainable development; and (6) engage with the private sector. The study shows the importance of identifying different stakeholder priorities in order to design solutions that accommodate multiple interests. It also emphasizes the need to improve coordination and communication between stakeholders and instruments in order to address the three different dimensions of sustainability in a synergistic manner, considering the interactions from production of raw material to end consumer.

Despite several efforts to quantify the effectiveness of forest certification in developing sustainable use of forest resources, there is little evidence that certified forests are more effective in conserving fauna than non-certified managed forest. To evaluate the impact of forest certification on the fauna, we compared the biodiversity in reference sites (n = 23), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified management sites (n = 24) and non-FSC management sites (n = 20) in the Tahuamanu region of Peru, during the dry season of 2017. Specifically, we determined if the acoustic space used (ASU), soundscapes composition, and the bird richness and composition significantly varied among the three management types. Variation in ASU was best explained by management type and mean ASU in the FSC sites was significantly greater than the reference and non-FSC sites, possibly suggesting greater richness of acoustically active species. An ordination analysis of the soundscapes showed that there was a significant difference among the three management types. There was greater dissimilarity in soundscape composition between the FSC and non-FSC sites, and greater overlap between FSC and reference sites. Bird identifications resulted in 11,300 detections of 226 bird species. Bird species richness and composition were not significantly different among the management types, indicating, in this context, that birds may not be the best indicators of different management strategies. The weak discrimination by the bird community is likely due to their dispersal ability, undisturbed primary forest matrix, and the occurrence of bamboo patches. The differences in ASU among the management types were most likely due to differences in acoustically active insects, which may be more sensitive to changes in microhabitat differences. Our findings correspond with the conclusions of other studies that certified forests can maintain levels of fauna biodiversity similar to those of undisturbed primary forest in the Amazon region.

The paper assesses the effects of public innovation initiated by demands from communities in the northern Bolivian Amazon to revise forest regulations and policies. Bolivia enacted wide-reaching land and forest reforms in the mid-1990s, but these reforms were insufficient to tackle competing claims on forests and exclusion of local forest users from benefiting from timber production. Pressures by forest communities resulted in significant adjustments in regulations and policies, and the main driver was social pressure from communities as well as their representatives. The adjustments have allowed communal local practices, which were previously illegal, to become legal. They have allowed communities access to timber markets, improve incomes, and enhanced compliance with timber regulations.

The magnitude and pace of global change demand rapid assessment of nature and its contributions to people. We present a fine-scale global modeling of current status and future scenarios for several contributions: water quality regulation, coastal risk reduction, and crop pollination. We find that where people’s needs for nature are now greatest, nature’s ability to meet those needs is declining. Up to 5 billion people face higher water pollution and insufficient pollination for nutrition under future scenarios of land use and climate change, particularly in Africa and South Asia. Hundreds of millions of people face heightened coastal risk across Africa, Eurasia, and the Americas. Continued loss of nature poses severe threats, yet these can be reduced 3- to 10-fold under a sustainable development scenario.

A key question for sustainability science is how to generate higher well-being by, or despite, reducing personal consumption – an outcome known as the "double dividend" (Alfredsson et al., 2018; Jackson, 2005). The idea of the double dividend originated from studies suggesting that, beyond a certain level, increases in GDP or income have little impact on well-being, happiness, or life satisfaction (Costanza et al., 2009; Easterlin et al., 2009; Kahneman and Deaton, 2010; Layard, 2006). Coupled with evidence of environmental degradation associated with economic growth and consumption (Steffen et al., 2007), these studies led scholars to explore how to increase well-being in a more environmentally responsible way.

Since the 1990s, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has used global assessments of vulnerability to inform investment and action against the effects of climate change. Beyond the IPCC, others have undertaken global assessments to understand the vulnerability of coastal areas to climate change. Eight global vulnerability assessments are compared to understand similarities and differences in their results and the metrics used to construct a vulnerability index. Variations in objectives, conceptualizations of vulnerability, operationalization of the concepts, scope and depth of data drawn upon lead to contradictory rankings of priority areas for climate action between assessments. The increased complexity and scope of indicators make it difficult to untangle the root causes of such differences in rankings. It is also difficult to identify the degree to which climate change influences vulnerability rankings compared to other factors such as local environmental conditions and the capacity of populations to deal with environmental change. The way to undertake global assessments needs to be reshaped to better inform planning of international development along different objectives. Global level assessments need to be simplified and harmonized to better isolate the impact of climate change specific drivers. Decision-makers would make better use of such global assessments as scoping studies rather than expect comprehensive and robust priorities for investment. Such scoping studies can help target locations where supplementary, in-depth local analyses need to be conducted. At the local level, the possibility to collect context-specific information, particularly on adaptive capacity, allows the robust assessment of vulnerability.

The functional application of sUAS is rapidly becoming a valuable tool for wildlife conservation. sUAS offers researchers and wildlife managers the ability to determine species distribution, population density, status and trend monitoring, species presence or absence, and habitat classification (Christie et al. 2016; Linchant et al. 2015; Mulero-Pázmány et al. 2015). These efforts are especially valuable in remote or inaccessible areas when studying imperiled habitats or species and over large expanses of land that is time consuming and expensive for pedestrian surveys (van Gemert et al. 2015). This chapter provides a case study for using sUAS for a black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) habitat assessment based on the spatial distribution and population density of its primary prey species – the prairie dog (Cynomys spp.). In this study, automated feature extraction of individual prairie dog burrows from small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) multispectral imagery provided assessments of prairie dog colony size and population density. Based on counts collected by ground survey and through manually digitized burrow counts at 27 plot sites, automated feature extraction using sUAS imagery provided a novel approach to efficiently collect accurate extent and density metrics to assess and monitor black-footed ferret habitat. The benefits of sUAS versus traditional on-the-ground biological surveys are to minimize environmental/behavioral impact on prairie dogs, offer a less time-consuming survey option, reduce count error and bias, provide the ability to cover larger areas, and conduct more frequent repeat surveys. sUAS can explore other potential advantages such as the detailed assessment of vegetation species composition and structure with multispectral and advanced sensors such as hyperspectral and LiDAR.

Changes in climate and land use are modifying biodiversity worldwide. Yet it remains unclear how both drivers interact to structure communities and determine patterns in taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity at local scales. We focused on bird diversity and asked: how do precipitation and forest cover gradients interactively structure these elements of avian diversity?

1. The functional trait diversity of species assemblages can predict the provision of ecosystem services such as pollination and carbon sequestration, but it is unclear whether the same trait-based framework can be applied to identify the factors that underpin cultural ecosystem services and disservices. 2. To explore the relationship between traits and the contribution of species to cultural ecosystem services and disservices, we conducted 404 questionnaire surveys with birdwatchers and local residents in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 3. We used an information–theoretic approach to identify which of 20 functional traits for 199 Costa Rican bird species best predicted their cultural ecosystem service scores related to birdwatching, acoustic aesthetics, education and local identity, as well as disservices (e.g. harm to crops). 4. We found that diet was the most important variable explaining perceptions of cultural ecosystem service and disservice providers. Aesthetic traits such as plumage colour and pattern were important in explaining birdwatching scores. We also found people have a high affinity for forest-affiliated birds. 5. The insight that functional traits can explain variation among cultural perspectives on values derived from birds offers a first step towards a trait-based system for understanding the species attributes that underpin cultural ecosystem services and disservices.

Despite the great cultural and economic benefits associated with birdwatching and other bird-related cultural ecosystem services (CES), little is known about the bird-related CES and disservices perceived by people, and how they differ across stakeholders and species. The goal of this study was to explore CES and disservices across three stakeholder groups in Northwestern Costa Rica. We conducted surveys (n=404 total) in which we presented farmers (n=140), urbanites (n=149), and birdwatchers (n=115) with illustrations and songs of bird species and collected participants’ ratings on items designed to measure multiple CES and disservices. We found bird-related CES and disservices were perceived as six different categories: identity, bequest, education, birdwatching, acoustic aesthetic, and disservices. The three stakeholder groups expressed varying preferences across services, disservices, and species. Specifically, birdwatchers ranked species higher in terms of their education scores and lower in disservices scores compared to the other two groups, whereas farmers scored species higher on identity scores compared to the other two groups. Farmers and urbanites had remarkably similar perceptions towards birds in general, but differed from birdwatchers. Our approach represents a novel method for assessing CES and disservices associated with species that can be adapted and modified for different taxa and multiple geographical contexts.

Selective logging causes at least half of the emissions from tropical forest degradation. Reduced-impact logging for climate (RIL-C) is proposed as a way to maintain timber production while minimizing forest damage. Here we synthesize data from 61 coordinated field-based surveys of logging impacts in seven countries across the tropics. We estimate that tropical selective logging emitted 834 Tg CO2 in 2015, 6% of total tropical greenhouse gas emissions. Felling, hauling, and skidding caused 59%, 31%, and 10% of these emissions, respectively. We suggest that RIL-C incentive programs consider a feasible target carbon impact factor of 2.3 Mg emitted per Mg of timber extracted. Operational modifications are needed to achieve this target, such as reduced wood waste, narrower haul roads, and lower impact skidding equipment. Full implementation would reduce logging emissions by 44% (366 Tg CO2 year-1) and deliver 4% of the nationally determined contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement from tropical countries, while maintaining timber supplies.

Gear restrictions are an important management tool in small-scale tropical fisheries, improving sustainability and building resilience to climate change. Yet to identify the management challenges and complete footprint of individual gears, a broader systems approach is required that integrates ecological, economic and social sciences. Here we apply this approach to artisanal fish fences, intensively used across three oceans, to identify a previously underrecognized gear requiring urgent management attention. A longitudinal case study shows increased effort matched with large declines in catch success and corresponding reef fish abundance. We find fish fences to disrupt vital ecological connectivity, exploit &rt; 500 species with high juvenile removal, and directly damage seagrass ecosystems with cascading impacts on connected coral reefs and mangroves. As semi-permanent structures in otherwise open-access fisheries, they create social conflict by assuming unofficial and unregulated property rights, while their unique high-investment-low-effort nature removes traditional economic and social barriers to overfishing.

In 2015, the UN adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aiming to "protect the planet from degradation...so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations". Through the SDGs, the UN recognises that conservation directly supports human health and wellbeing by providing goods like water and fibre, and global public goods like habitat for species and mitigation of climate change. Although trade-offs can indeed arise between conservation and economic development, the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health states unequivocally that "the environment has been the foundation of human flourishing", suggesting that if environmental degradation persists then ongoing improvements in human health are likely to be reversed.

Calls for coral reef restoration are increasing amidst continued declines, yet we know little about long-term outcomes and conditions that lead to successful coral recovery. Here, we report on one of the longest monitoring studies following 16 years of large-scale, "low-tech" experimental reef rehabilitation on rubble fields created by chronic blast fishing in Komodo National Park, Indonesia. After blast fishing had stopped, in the absence of rehabilitation, hard coral cover in rubble fields remained about 3% from 1999 to 2016, but on rehabilitation treatments, cover increased from 0% in 2002 to 44.5% (± 21.9% SD) in 2016. Coral cover varied among sites and treatments (ranging from <5 to &rt;80% in 2016) in patterns that may reflect current strength and turbidity. Our results demonstrate that low-tech substrate stabilization can facilitate natural coral recruitment and growth. We conclude that relatively low-cost methods can deliver sustained rehabilitation of hard coral cover and that long-term monitoring should be incorporated more widely in restoration activities to inform return on investment.

Biodiversity conservation interventions often aim to benefit both nature and people; however, the social impacts of these interventions remain poorly understood. We reviewed recent literature on the social impacts of four marine conservation interventions to understand the synergies, tradeoffs, and equity (STE) of these impacts, focusing on the direction, magnitude, and distribution of impacts across domains of human wellbeing and across spatial, temporal, and social scales. STE literature has increased dramatically since 2000, particularly for marine protected areas (MPAs), but remains limited. Few studies use rigorous counterfactual study designs, and significant research gaps remain regarding specific wellbeing domains (culture, education), social groups (gender, age, ethnic groups), and impacts over time. Practitioners and researchers should recognize the role of shifting property rights, power asymmetries, individual capabilities, and resource dependency in shaping STE in conservation outcomes, and utilize multi-consequential frameworks to support the wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Ensuring the persistence of biodiversity and ecosystem services represents a global challenge that need to be addressed with high urgency. Global priority areas can only be identified by means of an integrated prioritization approach that would not only preserve species numbers and ecosystem services, but also the evolutionary and functional components of diversity. In this study we combine global datasets on the distribution of mammals and birds with species traits and phylogenetic data and we identify conservation priorities for taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity, as well as for three ecosystem services, including potential for carbon sequestration, pollination potential and groundwater recharge. We show that, when priority areas are identified based only on individual, e.g. functional diversity, or any combination of the three biodiversity components, these areas do not allow a sufficient protection of the three ecosystem services. However, an integrated approach whereby prioritization is based on all biodiversity components and ecosystem services would allow to identify areas that maximize protection of all ecosystem services with a minimal loss in biodiversity coverage. Our results highlight the need for an integrated conservation planning framework in order to optimally allocate resources and achieve the long-term preservation of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity and ecosystems services.

Forests in southwestern Amazonia are increasingly being converted for agriculture, mining, and infrastructure development; subjected to low-intensity selective logging of high value timber species; and designated as conservation areas and indigenous reserves. To understand the impacts of forestry in this region, we evaluated carbon emissions from felling, skidding, and hauling in five FSC-certified concessions where workers were trained in reduced-impact logging (RIL) and in four non-certified concessions where workers were not trained in RIL in Madre de Dios, Peru. Emissions estimates did not differ by certification status, so we established a single baseline for selective logging emissions. Total carbon emissions from selective logging were low per hectare (4.9-11.6Mg ha-1) due to low logging intensities (2.9-8.1 m3 ha-1). Despite the unique architecture of trees in the southwestern Amazon (short stems and large crowns), emissions per volume and per ton carbon in the extracted timber were also relatively low (1.55 Mg m-3 and 4.04 Mg Mg-1, respectively). Only emissions per area scaled with logging intensity. Emissions were dominated by the felled tree itself (in extracted logs and residuals), whereas hauling infrastructure (roads and log landings) contributed comparatively little.

Free-flowing rivers (FFRs) support diverse, complex and dynamic ecosystems globally, providing important societal and economic services. Infrastructure development threatens the ecosystem processes, biodiversity and services that these rivers support. Here we assess the connectivity status of 12 million kilometres of rivers globally and identify those that remain free-flowing in their entire length. Only 37 percent of rivers longer than 1,000 kilometres remain free-flowing over their entire length and 23 percent flow uninterrupted to the ocean. Very long FFRs are largely restricted to remote regions of the Arctic and of the Amazon and Congo basins. In densely populated areas only few very long rivers remain free-flowing, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween. Dams and reservoirs and their up- and downstream propagation of fragmentation and flow regulation are the leading contributors to the loss of river connectivity. By applying a new method to quantify riverine connectivity and map FFRs, we provide a foundation for concerted global and national strategies to maintain or restore them.

The forest landscapes of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are changing dramatically, with a multitude of impacts from local to global levels. These changes invariably have their foundations in forest governance. The aim of this paper is to assess perceptions of key stakeholders regarding the state of forest governance in the countries of the GMS. The work is based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the perceptions of forest governance in the five GMS countries, involving 762 representatives from government, civil society, news media, and rural communities. The work identified many challenges to good forest governance in the countries in the region, as well as noting reasons for optimism. Generally speaking, there was a feeling that the policies, legislation, and institutional frameworks were supportive, but there are numerous challenges in terms of implementation, enforcement, and compliance. The work also presents a program of activities recommended by the research participants to address governance challenges and opportunities in the GMS countries. These include the development of a forest governance monitoring system, and initiatives that support informed decision-making by forest product consumers in the region as well as the implementation of a capacity development program for non-state actors (e.g., civil society, news media) to ensure they are more able to support the diverse, and often demanding, forest governance initiatives.

Increasing human demands for ecosystem services due to climate change, population growth, poverty, lack of employment, tourism, and concomitant coastal property development threatens adaptive capacity in South Africa's coastlines. Adaptation strategies frequently propose ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) as a model for transformative change. However, several studies point to difficulties implementing EBA across the world. The aim of this paper is to assess to what extent social-ecological systems approaches and common pool resource (CPR) governance theories could inform EBA. Data obtained from interviews and surveys with policy makers and residents in South Africa's Garden Route District were interpreted using the robustness framework (RF) and the design principles (DPs), two common tools for analyzing CPR governance. We found that the Garden Route coast is threatened by negative interactions between hard public and private infrastructures and ecological infrastructures (the cornerstone of EBA) which are driven by weak local government bodies and asymmetrical power relations. By coding the data for elements/interactions within the RF and then identifying and mapping the DPs onto the RF, we also revealed ways to leverage transformative EBA in the Garden Route. Our analyses suggest that the interactions between human-made and ecological infrastructures, as well as power relation, should be at the core of any development debate. Trade-offs should aim for maximum congruence between sustainability and equity in ecosystem services provisioning. This paper provides some considerations for researchers and decision makers to leverage transformative EBA that could potentially apply to areas experiencing similar challenges.

To account for progress towards conservation targets, monitoring systems should capture not only information on biodiversity but also knowledge on the dynamics of ecological processes and the related effects on human well-being. Protected areas represent complex social-ecological systems with strong human-nature interactions. They are able to provide relevant information about how global and local scale drivers (e.g., climate change, land use change) impact biodiversity and ecosystem services. Here we develop a framework that uses an ecosystem-focused approach to support managers in identifying essential variables in an integrated and scalable approach. We advocate that this approach can complement current essential variable developments, by allowing conservation managers to draw on system-level knowledge and theory of biodiversity and ecosystems to identify locally important variables that meet the local or sub-global needs for conservation data. This requires the development of system narratives and causal diagrams that pinpoints the social-ecological variables that represent the state and drivers of the different components, and their relationships. We describe a scalable framework that builds on system based narratives to describe all system components, the models used to represent them and the data needed. Considering the global distribution of protected areas, with an investment in standards, transparency, and on active data mobilisation strategies for essential variables, these have the potential to be the backbone of global biodiversity monitoring, benefiting countries, biodiversity observation networks and the global biodiversity community.

Studying scleractinian coral bleaching and recovery dynamics in remote, isolated reef systems offers an opportunity to examine impacts of global reef stressors in the absence of local human threats. Reefs in the Chagos Archipelago, central Indian Ocean, suffered severe bleaching and mortality in 2015 following a 7.5 maximum degree heating weeks (DHWs) thermal anomaly, causing a 60% coral cover decrease from 30% cover in 2012 to 12% in April 2016. Mortality was taxon specific, with Porites becoming the dominant coral genus post-bleaching because of an 86% decline in Acropora from 14 to 2% cover. Spatial heterogeneity in Acropora mortality across the Archipelago was significantly negatively correlated with variation in DHWs and with chlorophyll-a concentrations. In 2016, a 17.6 maximum DHWs thermal anomaly caused further damage, with 68% of remaining corals bleaching in May 2016, and coral cover further declining by 29% at Peros Banhos Atoll (northern Chagos Archipelago) from 14% in March 2016 to 10% in April 2017. We therefore document back-to-back coral bleaching and mortality events for two successive years in the remote central Indian Ocean. Our results indicate lower coral mortality in 2016 than 2015 despite a more severe thermal anomaly event in 2016. This could be caused by increased thermal resistance and resilience within corals surviving the 2015 thermal anomaly; however, high bleaching prevalence in 2016 suggests there remained a high sensitivity to bleaching. Similar coral mortality and community change were seen in the Chagos Archipelago following the 1998 global bleaching event, from which recovery took 10 yr. This relatively rapid recovery suggests high reef resiliency and indicates that the Archipelago’s lack of local disturbances will increase the probability that the reefs will again recover over time. However, as the return time between thermal anomaly events becomes shorter, this ability to recover will become increasingly compromised.

Coral reefs are biodiverse and productive ecosystems but are threatened by local and global stresses. The resulting loss of coral reefs is threatening coastal food and livelihoods. Climate projections suggest that coral reefs will continue to undergo major changes even if the goals of the Paris Agreement (Dec 2015) are successfully implemented. Ecological changes include modified food webs, shifts in community structure, reduced habitat complexity, decreased fecundity and recruitment, changes to fisheries productivity/opportunity, and a shift in the carbonate budget of some ecosystems toward dissolution and erosion of calcium carbonate stocks. Broad estimates of the long-term (present value) of services provided by the ocean's ecological assets exist and are useful in highlighting the value of reefs yet must be contextualised by how people respond under ecosystem change. The dynamic nature of the relationship between people, economies, and the environment complicates estimation of human consequences and economic outcomes of changing environmental and ecological capital. Challenges have increased given lack of baseline data and our inability to predict (with any precision) how people respond to changing coral reef conditions, especially given the variability, flexibility, and creativity shown by human communities and economies under change. Here, we explore how the changes to the three-dimensional structure of coral reefs affect benefits for people, specifically coastal protection, fisheries habitat, and tourism. Based on a review of available data and literature, we make a series of key recommendations that are required to better understanding of how global change will affect people dependent on coral reefs. These include: (1) baseline studies and frameworks for understanding human responses to climate change within complex social and ecological setting such as coral reefs, (2) better tools for exploring environmental benefits, markets, and financial systems faced by change, and (3) the integration of these insights into more effective policy making.

Non-state and subnational climate actors have become central to global climate change governance. Quantitatively assessing climate mitigation undertaken by these entities is critical to understand the credibility of this trend. In this Perspective, we make recommendations regarding five main areas of research and methodological development related to evaluating non-state and subnational climate actions: defining clear boundaries and terminology; use of common methodologies to aggregate and assess non-state and subnational contributions; systematically dealing with issues of overlap; estimating the likelihood of implementation; and addressing data gaps.

Three-dimensional point data acquired by Terrestrial Lidar Scanning (TLS) is used as ground observation in comparisons with fire severity indices computed from Landsat satellite multi-temporal images through Google Earth Engine (GEE). Forest fires are measured by the extent and severity of fire. Current methods of assessing fire severity are limited to on-site visual inspection or the use of satellite and aerial images to quantify severity over larger areas. On the ground, assessment of fire severity is influenced by the observers' knowledge of the local ecosystem and ability to accurately assess several forest structure measurements. The objective of this study is to introduce TLS to validate spectral burned ratios obtained from Landsat images. The spectral change was obtained by an image compositing technique through GEE. The 32 plots were collected using TLS in Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada. TLS-generated 3D points were converted to voxels and the counted voxels were compared in four height strata. There was a negative linear relationship between spectral indices and counted voxels in the height strata between 1 to 5 m to produce R2 value of 0.45 and 0.47 for unburned plots and a non-linear relationship in the height strata between 0 to 0.5m for burned plots to produce R2 value of 0.56 and 0.59. Shrub or stand development was related with the spectral indices at unburned plots, and vegetation recovery in the ground surface was related at burned plots. As TLS systems become more cost efficient and portable, techniques used in this study will be useful to produce objective assessments of structure measurements for fire refugia and ecological response after a fire. TLS is especially useful for the quick ground assessments which are needed for forest fire applications.

Boreal forests are globally extensive and store large amounts of carbon, but recent climate change has led to drier conditions and increasing fire activity. The objective of this study is to quantify trends in fire size and frequency using data spanning multiple scales in space and time. We use multi-temporal Landsat image compositing on Google Earth Engine and validate results with reference fire maps from the Canadian Park Service. We also interpret general fire trends through the concept of Self-Organized Criticality (SOC). Our study site is Wood Buffalo National Park, which is a fire hot spot in Canada due to frequent lightning ignitions. The relativize differenced normalized burn ratio (RdNBR) was the most accurate Landsat-based burn severity metric we evaluated (52.2% producer's accuracy, 87.6% user's accuracy). The Landsat-based burn severity maps provided a better fit for a linear relationship on the log-log scale of fire size and frequency than a manually drawn fire map. Landsat-based fire trends since 1990 conformed to a power-law distribution with a slope of 1.9, which is related to fractal dimensions of the satellite-based fire perimeter shapes. The unburned and low-severity patches within the burn severity mosaic influenced the power-law slope and associated fractal dimensionality. This study demonstrates a multi-scale and multi-dataset technique to quantify general fire trends and changing fire cycles in remote locations and establishes a baseline database for assessing future fire activity. Testing criticality by power laws helps to quantify emergent trends of contemporary fire regimes, which could inform the strategic application of prescribed fire and other management activities. Natural resource managers can utilize information from this study to understand local ecosystem adaptability to large fire events and ecosystem stability in the context of recent increasing fire activity.

Over the last 25 years, the global area of certified forests has grown rapidly and voluntary forest certification has become recognized as an effective tool to engage international markets in improving sustainability within forest management units. However, the bulk of this growth has occurred in North America, Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, with relatively limited uptake in the tropics. Since its creation, forest certification has been largely understood as a "market-based" mechanism, in contrast to government-led policies and regulations. Through the experience of the Responsible Asia Forestry and Trade (RAFT) partnership in the Asia Pacific region, we find that the framing of forest certification as voluntary and market-based, and as a mechanism to overcome governance failure, has created an artificial dichotomy. In this dichotomy, voluntary certification and regulatory measures to promote sustainable forest management are conceived of and pursued largely independently. We argue that it is more constructive to view them as complementary approaches that share a common goal of increasing sustainability across the forestry sector. In practice, forest certification interacts with conventional governance institutions and mechanisms. Understanding these interactions and their implications, as well as additional possibilities for interaction, will help in realizing the full potential of forest certification.

The HydroATLAS database provides a standardized compendium of descriptive hydro-environmental information for all watersheds and rivers of the world at high spatial resolution. Version 1.0 of HydroATLAS offers data for 56 variables, partitioned into 281 individual attributes and organized in six categories: hydrology; physiography; climate; land cover & use; soils & geology; and anthropogenic influences. HydroATLAS derives the hydro-environmental characteristics by aggregating and reformatting original data from well-established global digital maps, and by accumulating them along the drainage network from headwaters to ocean outlets. The attributes are linked to hierarchically nested sub-basins at multiple scales, as well as to individual river reaches, both extracted from the global HydroSHEDS database at 15 arc-second (˜500 m) resolution. The sub-basin and river reach information is offered in two companion datasets: BasinATLAS and RiverATLAS. The standardized format of HydroATLAS ensures easy applicability while the inherent topological information supports basic network functionality such as identifying up- and downstream connections. HydroATLAS is fully compatible with other products of the overarching HydroSHEDS project enabling versatile hydro-ecological assessments for a broad user community.

As conservation shifts to meet the challenges of our globalized world, approaches for planning and evaluating interventions must evolve to account for the increasing complexity of conservation problems and the dynamic, multiscalar relationships between humans and the environment. Systems thinking offers approaches that could help conservation be more adaptive, transparent, and evidence-based. Using case studies and the literature, we trace the evolution of systems thinking and demonstrate how systems mapping could support the process of planning and evaluating interventions. Systems mapping helps disentangle the context of conservation and encourage collaborative planning that integrates diverse views. It can also change the way interventions are characterized and communicated by emphasizing the systems targeted for change as opposed to actions. Last, it can encourage evidence-based decision-making by identifying indicators attune to complexity, prompting discussion on knowledge gaps, and filling gaps through qualitative mapping or computational modeling. Integrating systems thinking in practice will help practitioners foster the capacity for learning and adaptation required for conservation to deliver global results.

Although a major portion of the planet’s land and sea is managed to conserve biodiversity, little is known about the extent, speed and patterns of adoption of conservation initiatives. We undertook a quantitative exploration of how area-based conservation initiatives go to scale by analysing the adoption of 22 widely recognized and diverse initiatives from across the globe. We use a standardized approach to compare the potential of different initiatives to reach scale. While our study is not exhaustive, our analyses reveal consistent patterns across a variety of initiatives: adoption of most initiatives (82% of our case studies) started slowly before rapidly going to scale. Consistent with diffusion of innovation theory, most initiatives exhibit slow-fast-slow (that is, sigmoidal) dynamics driven by interactions between existing and potential adopters. However, uptake rates and saturation points vary among the initiatives and across localities. Our models suggest that the uptake of most of our case studies is limited; over half of the initiatives will be taken up by <30% of their potential adopters. We also provide a methodology for quantitatively understanding the process of scaling. Our findings inform us how initiatives scale up to widespread adoption, which will facilitate forecasts of the future level of adoption of initiatives, and benchmark their extent and speed of adoption against those of our case studies.

Expanding human populations, combined with an increasingly variable climate, present challenges to the conservation of wide-ranging wildlife species, particularly for populations that persist in human-dominated landscapes. Although the movements and space use of many equid species have been well studied, comparable research of the Hartmann's mountain zebra (HMZ) Equus zebra hartmannae, which primarily inhabits communal and commercial farming areas of Namibia, has been scarce and may limit conservation effectiveness. Here, we investigated the environmental and anthropogenic factors influencing HMZ movements and resource use across a large area of their range in northwestern Namibia. We deployed 6 GPS collars on HMZ during 2011 to 2013 and used integrated step selection functions to quantify HMZ movements and space use. HMZ movements averaged ˜5 km d-1, and mean seasonal home range sizes were 681 and 256 km2 in the wet and dry season, respectively. HMZ selected for areas with high normalized difference vegetation index values (used as a proxy for primary production), particularly during the dry season, while avoiding areas further from water and closer to human settlements, although the effect was less apparent during the rainy season. Movement rates increased when HMZ crossed roads and were closer to roadways, but rates were not impacted by proximity to human activities. These results provide insights toward mitigating human-HMZ conflict. We highlight the difficulty a changing and less predictable climate creates for grazing species living in arid regions, as they must expend more energy and navigate dangers of a growing human footprint to seek out valuable but ephemeral forage.

Tourism may benefit conservation, but some wildlife viewing practices threaten the sustainability of both business and conservation initiatives. In north-west Namibia, conservation-oriented tourism provides tourists with an opportunity to encounter the critically-endangered black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis on foot. We used 123 tourist-rhinoceros encounters and employed a statistical modeling approach to: (1) identify the characteristics of human-rhinoceros encounters that caused rhinoceros disturbance and displacement; and (2) design rhinoceros-human encounter guidelines that improve sustainability. A model-averaging, information-theoretic approach identified tourist approach distance, viewing time and individual encounter exposure as the most significant predictors of rhinoceros disturbance level. A suite of rhinoceros viewing scenarios were modeled for acceptable disturbance risks, and adopted as a rhinoceros viewing policy. The policy reduced encounter displacements by 80% while maintaining a 95% positive feedback rating from guests. We demonstrate an evidence-based, policy-oriented management approach can help improve tourism's contribution towards the conservation of an endangered species.

Increasing human populations around the global coastline have caused extensive loss, degradation and fragmentation of coastal ecosystems, threatening the delivery of important ecosystem services1. As a result, alarming losses of mangrove, coral reef, seagrass, kelp forest and coastal marsh ecosystems have occurred1,2,3,4,5,6. However, owing to the difficulty of mapping intertidal areas globally, the distribution and status of tidal flats—one of the most extensive coastal ecosystems—remain unknown7. Here we present an analysis of over 700,000 satellite images that maps the global extent of and change in tidal flats over the course of 33 years (1984–2016). We find that tidal flats, defined as sand, rock or mud flats that undergo regular tidal inundation7, occupy at least 127,921 km2 (124,286–131,821 km2, 95% confidence interval). About 70% of the global extent of tidal flats is found in three continents (Asia (44% of total), North America (15.5% of total) and South America (11% of total)), with 49.2% being concentrated in just eight countries (Indonesia, China, Australia, the United States, Canada, India, Brazil and Myanmar). For regions with sufficient data to develop a consistent multi-decadal time series—which included East Asia, the Middle East and North America—we estimate that 16.02% (15.62–16.47%, 95% confidence interval) of tidal flats were lost between 1984 and 2016. Extensive degradation from coastal development1, reduced sediment delivery from major rivers8,9, sinking of riverine deltas8,10, increased coastal erosion and sea-level rise11 signal a continuing negative trajectory for tidal flat ecosystems around the world. Our high-spatial-resolution dataset delivers global maps of tidal flats, which substantially advances our understanding of the distribution, trajectory and status of these poorly known coastal ecosystems.

Protected areas (PAs) are fundamental for biodiversity conservation, yet their impacts on nearby residents are contested. We synthesized environmental and socioeconomic conditions of >87,000 children in >60,000 households situated either near or far from >600 PAs within 34 developing countries. We used quasi-experimental hierarchical regression to isolate the impact of living near a PA on several aspects of human well-being. Households near PAs with tourism also had higher wealth levels (by 17%) and a lower likelihood of poverty (by 16%) than similar households living far from PAs. Children under 5 years old living near multiple-use PAs with tourism also had higher height-for-age scores (by 10%) and were less likely to be stunted (by 13%) than similar children living far from PAs. For the largest and most comprehensive socioeconomic-environmental dataset yet assembled, we found no evidence of negative PA impacts and consistent statistical evidence to suggest PAs can positively affect human well-being.

Conversion of temperate grasslands in the North American Great Plains has long been identified as a threat to native species and systems. Avoiding conversion, particularly to agricultural cover, has been modeled to show benefits for preserving species diversity and connectivity and maintaining ecosystem services provided by grasslands such as avoiding nutrient and sediment runoff. To identify areas of likely conversion, we employed a probabilistic ecoregion-wide model using soil, topography, and climate variables to simulate future conversion. Our results indicated that roughly 60% of the ecoregion is at moderate or higher risk of conversion or has previously been converted. These data can be used to direct grassland conservation efforts and as a metric to assess suitability of future crop expansion. Also, with added information on government subsidies, clean energy mandates, conservation incentives, and other economic data, our model can be used to assess the benefits and disadvantages of such programs and policies.

Water-management infrastructure, such as dams, diversions, and levees, provides important benefits to society, including energy, flood management, and water supply, but this infrastructure is a primary cause of the decline of freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide. Due to these declines, recent attention has focused on improving the environmental performance of water infrastructure, such as modifying the location, design, or operation of infrastructure to maintain or restore environmental flows. Despite growing attention to the importance of environmental flows, and continued advancement in flow assessment methods, implementation of flow protection or restoration has lagged expectations. In this paper we describe how pursuing environmental flows at the scale of infrastructure systems, rather than individual sites, such as a dam, offers two pathways to increased implementation of environmental flows. First, policy and management mechanisms that apply to large areas–river basins or political jurisdictions–can catalyze large-scale implementation of flow protection or restoration. We provide two examples of system-scale policy and management mechanisms: flow protection policies and system-scale hydropower planning and management. Although system-scale policy and management offer a clear path to large-scale implementation, there will continue to be a need for flow implementation that occurs at smaller scales, such as a high priority river reach. The second pathway focuses on implementation at that scale–such as environmental flow releases from a dam or small set of dams–but embeds dam reoperation or site-scale flow implementation within reoperation of the larger systems of resource management within which the dam or ecosystem is located. These systems of resource management can encompass various sectors and here we provide examples of dam reoperation or flow implementation facilitated by solutions that included changes to the management of (1) water supply systems; (2) floodplains; and (3) irrigation systems. We illustrate both of these system-scale pathways through a set of case studies, drawn primarily from North America, each of which includes an example of current implementation.

Ocean ecosystems are in decline, yet we also have more ocean data, and more data portals, than ever before. To make effective decisions regarding ocean management, especially in the face of global environmental change, we need to make the best use possible of these data. Yet many data are not shared, are hard to find, and cannot be effectively accessed. We identify three classes of challenges to data sharing and use: uploading, aggregating, and navigating. While tremendous advances have occurred to improve ocean data operability and transparency, the effect has been largely incremental. We propose a suite of both technical and cultural solutions to overcome these challenges including the use of natural language processing, automatic data translation, ledger-based data identifiers, digital community currencies, data impact factors, and social networks as ways of breaking through these barriers. One way to harness these solutions could be a combinatorial machine that embodies both technological and social networking solutions to aggregate ocean data and to allow researchers to discover, navigate, and download data as well as to connect researchers and data users while providing an open-sourced backend for new data tools.

Stable forests — those not already significantly disturbed nor facing predictable near-future risks of anthropogenic disturbance — may play a large role in the climate solution, due to their carbon sequestration and storage capabilities. Their importance is recognized by the Paris Agreement, but stable forests have received comparatively little attention through existing forest protection mechanisms and finance. Instead, emphasis has been placed on targeting locations where deforestation and forest degradation are happening actively. Yet stopping deforestation and forest degradation does not guarantee durable success, especially outside the geographic scope of targeted efforts. As a result, today's stable forests may be at risk without additional efforts to secure their long-term conservation.

The transboundary Mekong Basin has been dubbed the "Battery of Southeast Asia" for its large hydropower potential. Development of hydropower dams in the six riparian countries proceeds without strategic analyses of dam impacts, e.g., reduced sediment delivery to the lower Mekong. This will impact some of the world's largest freshwater fisheries and endangers the resilience of the delta, which supports 17 million livelihoods, against rising sea levels. To highlight alternatives, we contribute an optimization-based framework for strategic sequencing of dam development. We quantify lost opportunities from past development and identify remaining opportunities for better tradeoffs between sediment and hydropower. We find that limited opportunities remain for less impactful hydropower in the lower basin, where most development is currently planned, while better trade-offs could be reached with dams in the upper Mekong in China. Our results offer a strategic vision for hydropower in the Mekong, introduce a globally applicable framework to optimize dam sequences in space and time, and highlight the importance of strategic planning on multiple scales to minimize hydropower impacts on rivers.

Enhancing smallholder compliance with sustainability standards and good agricultural practices features prominently on the global sustainability agenda. Operating in a sector that bears intense public scrutiny, Indonesia's oil palm smallholders are especially confronted by pressures to enhance their environmental performance. Because smallholders experience differentiated compliance barriers however, it is widely recognized that for the purpose of more effectively prioritizing and targeting the necessary intervention support, smallholder heterogeneity needs to be better understood. This is especially the case for independent – in contrast to 'plasma' - oil palm smallholders, for whom corporate technical, input and financial support is comparatively inaccessible. Through multivariate analysis, this article contributes to these needs by developing a typology of independent oil palm smallholders in Indonesian Borneo. We subsequently model the predicted probabilities of different types of smallholders complying with Indonesia's major national sustainability standard and select indicators of good agricultural practice. This analysis reveals structural compliance gaps, which threatens to restrict smallholder access to formal markets in future. In showing that intervention strategies to resolve these compliance gaps can be more impactful when these are adapted to smallholder livelihood assets, portfolios and strategies, this article points to the importance of more explicitly accounting for socio-economic differentiation when addressing contemporary smallholder upgrading challenges. With results however revealing how local entrepreneurs and elites complicit in regulatory evasion and illegal land encroachments play a significant role in the sub-sector, local political resistance to initiatives that aim to bring the sub-sector above board can be anticipated. This highlights how institutional building needs to be more explicitly incorporated into the design of smallholder-centric intervention strategies; through, for example, the adoption of more integrative landscape-level planning approaches.

Ship strikes are one of the main human-induced threats to whale survival. A variety of measures have been used or proposed to reduce collisions and subsequent mortality of whales. These include operational measures, such as mandatory speed reduction, or technical ones, such as detection tools. There is, however, a lack of a systematic approach to assessing the various measures that can mitigate the risk of ship collisions with whales. In this paper, a holistic approach is proposed to evaluate mitigation measures based on a risk assessment framework that has been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), namely the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA). Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) is "a rational and systematic process for assessing the risk related to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and for evaluating the costs and benefits of IMO's options for reducing these risks". The paper conceptualizes the use of a systematic risk assessment methodology, namely the FSA, to assess measures to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and whales.

Many human populations are dependent on marine ecosystems for a range of benefits but we understand little about where and to what degree people rely on these ecosystem services. We created a new conceptual model to map the degree of human dependence on marine ecosystems based on the magnitude of the benefit, susceptibility of people to a loss of that benefit, and the availability of alternatives. We focused on mapping nutritional, economic, and coastal protection dependence, but our model is repeatable, scalable, applicable to other ecosystems, and designed to incorporate additional services and data. Here we show that dependence was highest for Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations and several West African countries. More than 775 million people live in areas with relatively high dependence scores. By identifying where and how people are dependent on marine ecosystems, our framework can be used to design more effective large-scale management and policy interventions.

This study analyzes the five primary ecosystem services and their trade-offs and synergies associated with future scenarios of oil palm plantations in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Three plausible future scenarios were assessed: 1) business as usual, 2) conservation and, 3) sustainable intensification, based on current land-use policy and spatial planning and projected oil palm expansion. The spatial analysis tool in ArcGIS and the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs Tool (InVEST Tool) were used to analyze historical and future land-use change, valuation and trade-offs of ecosystem services. The sustainable intensification scenario generates a positive impact on carbon storages and water yield, although habitat quality nominally declines. In terms of total economic value of ecosystem services, the conservation scenario generates the highest value of ecosystem services, while the sustainable intensification scenario offers a compromise solution for future expansion of oil palm by ensuring the supply of ecosystem services comparable to conservation scenario but without significantly affecting palm oil yield in comparison to the business-as-usual scenario. A detailed study with better information on the economic values of ecosystem services can provide a better understanding of the social and environmental impacts of oil palm expansion.

This study analyzes the five primary ecosystem services and their trade-offs and synergies associated with future scenarios of oil palm plantations in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Three plausible future scenarios were assessed: 1) business as usual, 2) conservation and, 3) sustainable intensification, based on current land-use policy and spatial planning and projected oil palm expansion. The spatial analysis tool in ArcGIS and the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs Tool (InVEST Tool) were used to analyze historical and future land-use change, valuation and trade-offs of ecosystem services. The sustainable intensification scenario generates a positive impact on carbon storages and water yield, although habitat quality nominally declines. In terms of total economic value of ecosystem services, the conservation scenario generates the highest value of ecosystem services, while the sustainable intensification scenario offers a compromise solution for future expansion of oil palm by ensuring the supply of ecosystem services comparable to conservation scenario but without significantly affecting palm oil yield in comparison to the business-as-usual scenario. A detailed study with better information on the economic values of ecosystem services can provide a better understanding of the social and environmental impacts of oil palm expansion.

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) are stakeholder-derived principles with measurable and enforceable criteria to promote sustainable production outcomes. While institutional commitments to use VSS to meet sustainable procurement policies have grown rapidly over the past decade, we still have relatively little understanding of the (i) direct environmental benefits of large-scale VSS adoption; (ii) potential perverse indirect impacts of adoption; and (iii) implementation pathways. Here, we illustrate and address these knowledge gaps using an ecosystem service modeling and scenario analysis of Bonsucro, the leading VSS for sugarcane. We find that global compliance with the Bonsucro environmental standards would reduce current sugarcane production area (-24%), net tonnage (-11%), irrigation water use (-65%), nutrient loading (-34%), and greenhouse gas emissions from cultivation (-51%). Under a scenario of doubled global sugarcane production, Bonsucro adoption would further limit water use and greenhouse gas emissions by preventing sugarcane expansion into water-stressed and high-carbon stock ecosystems. This outcome was achieved via expansion largely on existing agricultural lands. However, displacement of other crops could drive detrimental impacts from indirect land use. We find that over half of the potential direct environmental benefits of Bonsucro standards under the doubling scenario could be achieved by targeting adoption in just 10% of global sugarcane production areas. However, designing policy that generates the most environmentally beneficial Bonsucro adoption pathway requires a better understanding of the economic and social costs of VSS adoption. Finally, we suggest research directions to advance sustainable consumption and production.

Shallow coral reef ecosystems worldwide are affected by local and global anthropogenic stressors. Exploring fish assemblages on deeper reefs is therefore important to examine their connectivity, and to help understand the biodiversity, ecology, distinctiveness, evolutionary history and threats in this sparsely studied environment. Conducting visual surveys on the Bermuda slope and a nearby seamount at depths from 15 to 300 m, we document decreasing fish biomass and diversity with increasing depth. Fish assemblages were primarily depth-stratified, with distinct suites of species inhabiting shallow (<30 m depth) and upper (60 m) and lower (90 m) mesophotic coral ecosystems, and confirming the presence of a distinct rariphotic (∼150–300 m) assemblage. We also report evidence of anthropogenic pressures throughout our surveyed depths. Our results highlight the novelty of deeper reef fish faunas, therefore suggesting limited applicability of the deep reef refuge hypothesis, and showcase the vulnerability of deep reefs to targeted fishing pressure and invasive species.

Community-based natural resource management programs can recover wildlife and deliver tangible benefits such as financial gains to local communities. Less-tangible impacts like changes in attitudes towards wildlife are not as well-understood, yet in the long-term, positive attitudes may be an important determinant of sustainability in such programs. We investigated the connection between actual and perceived benefits of a community-based conservation program in Namibia and residents' attitudes towards wildlife. We administered a questionnaire with a specific focus on attitudes to >400 community members across 18 communal conservancies that generated either (i) high benefits from tourism, (ii) high benefits from hunting, or (iii) low/no benefits. We used an empirical modelling approach that isolated the impact of conservancy-level benefits, while controlling for a variety of factors that can also influence attitudes towards wildlife. Using an information theoretic and model-averaging approach, we show that all else equal, respondents living in conservancies generating high benefits from hunting had more favourable attitudes towards wildlife than those living in conservancies generating low benefits (as expected), but also as compared to those living in conservancies generating high benefits from tourism. A variety of individual-level characteristics, such as the costs and benefits (both tangible and intangible) that respondents have personally experienced from wildlife, as well as demographic factors, were also important in conditioning attitudes. Our results demonstrate that community-based conservation programs can positively impact attitudes towards wildlife, but that this is conditioned by the type and magnitude of benefits and costs that individuals experience from wildlife, all of which should be assessed in order to most effectively support such programs.

Camera traps have existed since the 1890s (Kucera and Barrett 2011), but they weren't widely used until the introduction of commercial infrared-triggered cameras in the early 1990s (Meek et al. 2014). Since then, millions, perhaps billions of camera trap images have been collected for many reasons, biodiversity monitoring being one of the key applications. Unfortunately, although there are camera trap deployments all over the world, these operations occur in isolation, limiting the impact they could have on a global understanding of biodiversity health. Even within individual institutions, managing and analyzing multiple camera trap deployments in aggregate can be challenging. In fact, managing a single deployment of camera traps is non-trivial and important data are frequently cast aside as bycatch, left unanalyzed on decaying hard drives. Wildlife Insights attempts to overcome these hurdles by providing camera trap data upload, management, and analysis services. It provides the world's largest database of camera trap images by bringing together the camera trapping efforts of several the world’s largest conservation and research organizations, and it is open to future contributors. Artificial Intelligence-driven services sit at the heart of the platform. New camera trap data uploads are automatically analyzed to differentiate between images with people, non-human animals, and no animals. The images with non-human animals are further analyzed to detect specific species. The proposed labels are sent back to the submitter for review and then uploaded to the database. All uploaded images, unless specifically embargoed, are immediately available for analysis by all users of the system. A selection of tools are provided to support analyses of global biodiversity. This presentation will describe Wildlife Insights and its AI implementation in detail, contextualized by case studies using analyses of the data currently stored on the platform. Challenges around integrating camera trap data within the platform and with other external services that work with the platform will also be discussed. The talk will end with some thoughts about future directions for the AI services, especially with regards to integration with related platforms.

Mega-diverse coral reef ecosystems are declining globally, necessitating conservation prioritizations to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services of sites with high functional integrity to promote persistence. In practice however, the design of marine-protected area (MPA) systems often relies on broad classifications of habitat class and size, making the tacit assumption that all reefs are of comparable condition. We explored the impact of this assumption through a novel, pragmatic approach for incorporating variability in coral cover in a large-scale regional spatial prioritization plan.

Policymakers and investors have perceived securing soil organic carbon as too difficult, with uncertain returns. But new technical, policy and financial opportunities offer hope for rapid progress. Growing visibility and international frameworks for soil organic carbon are not yet matched by investment and action at scale. Soils, mostly privately owned but delivering public goods, are managed under a miscellany of governance arrangements, from local to global1. While there have been compelling calls for action on soils, diverse protagonists across business1,2, governments and civil society who seek to secure soil organic carbon recognize barriers beyond their individual reach—and hence an urgent need for a cross-sectoral global agenda.

Palm oil production has increased rapidly over the past two decades in response to rising demand for its use in food, energy, and industrial applications. Expansion of oil palm plantations presents a dilemma, as they can displace forests and peatlands, leading to biodiversity losses and increased greenhouse gas emissions. Although projections show that expansion of oil palm area will slow with faster yield growth, important concerns remain that will require careful attention from policymakers.

Food systems have the potential to nurture human health and support environmental sustainability; however, they are currently threatening both. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge. Although global food production of calories has kept pace with population growth, more than 820 million people have insufficient food and many more consume low-quality diets that cause micronutrient deficiencies and contribute to a substantial rise in the incidence of diet-related obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Unhealthy diets pose a greater risk to morbidity and mortality than does unsafe sex, and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use combined. Because much of the world's population is inadequately nourished and many environmental systems and processes are pushed beyond safe boundaries by food production, a global transformation of the food system is urgently needed.


Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing society and is already having a significant impact on people and biodiversity around the globe. Rural communities in developing countries are experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change, but removed from decision making bodies and financial resources, they are often left to their own devices to cope with and adapt to these changes. Through WWF's Climate Crowd initiative, large amounts of data on how vulnerable communities are affected by changes in weather and climate, how they are coping with these changes, and how their responses might negatively impact biodiversity are being crowd-sourced. WWF then curates data sourced from partner organisations, analyses it, and disseminates it on wwfclimatecrowd.org for use by researchers, educators, and conservation and development practitioners. This data is also used to develop and implement site-specific solutions that reduce the vulnerability of people and wildlife to changes in climate.

Increasing weather risks threaten agricultural production systems and food security across the world. Maintaining agricultural growth while minimizing climate shocks is crucial to building a resilient food production system and meeting developmental goals in vulnerable countries. Experts have proposed several technological, institutional, and policy interventions to help farmers adapt to current and future weather variability and to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This paper presents the climate-smart village (CSV) approach as a means of performing agricultural research for development that robustly tests technological and institutional options for dealing with climatic variability and climate change in agriculture using participatory methods. It aims to scale up and scale out the appropriate options and draw out lessons for policy makers from local to global levels. The approach incorporates evaluation of climate-smart technologies, practices, services, and processes relevant to local climatic risk management and identifies opportunities for maximizing adaptation gains from synergies across different interventions and recognizing potential maladaptation and trade-offs. It ensures that these are aligned with local knowledge and link into development plans. This paper describes early results in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to illustrate different examples of the CSV approach in diverse agroecological settings. Results from initial studies indicate that the CSV approach has a high potential for scaling out promising climate-smart agricultural technologies, practices, and services. Climate analog studies indicate that the lessons learned at the CSV sites would be relevant to adaptation planning in a large part of global agricultural land even under scenarios of climate change. Key barriers and opportunities for further work are also discussed.

Factors shaping coral-reef fish species assemblages can operate over a wide range of spatial scales (local versus regional) and across both proximate and evolutionary time. Niche theory and neutral theory provide frameworks for testing assumptions and generating insights about the importance of local versus regional processes. Niche theory postulates that species assemblages are an outcome of evolutionary processes at regional scales followed by local-scale interactions, whereas neutral theory presumes that species assemblages are formed by largely random processes drawing from regional species pools. Indo-Pacific cryptobenthic coral-reef fishes are highly evolved, ecologically diverse, temporally responsive, and situated on a natural longitudinal diversity gradient, making them an ideal group for testing predictions from niche and neutral theories and effects of regional and local processes on species assemblages. Using a combination of ecological metrics (fish density, diversity, assemblage composition) and evolutionary analyses (testing for phylogenetic niche conservatism), we demonstrate that the structure of cryptobenthic fish assemblages can be explained by a mixture of regional factors, such as the size of regional species pools and broad-scale barriers to gene flow/drivers of speciation, coupled with local-scale factors, such as the relative abundance of specific microhabitat types. Furthermore, species of cryptobenthic fishes have distinct microhabitat associations that drive significant differences in assemblage community structure between microhabitat types, and these distinct microhabitat associations are phylogenetically conserved over evolutionary timescales. The implied differential fitness of cryptobenthic fishes across varied microhabitats and the conserved nature of their ecology are consistent with predictions from niche theory. Neutral theory predictions may still hold true for early life-history stages, where stochastic factors may be more important in explaining recruitment. Overall, through integration of ecological and evolutionary techniques, and using multiple spatial scales, our study offers a unique perspective on factors determining coral-reef fish assemblages.

Coral reefs are again in the spotlight, having suffered mass mortality over the past two years from global bleaching events. Before reef resilience runs out, researchers must move beyond lamenting corals' lost pristine state and develop pragmatic solutions. In our view, these are likely to stem from a more diverse set of stakeholders than have participated so far. We must ensure that reefs can continue to provide well-being for millions of people in the future, despite widespread alterations in their biological state.

The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted under the Paris Agreement propose a country's contribution to global mitigation efforts and domestic adaptation initiatives. This paper provides a systematic analysis of NDCs submitted by South Asian nations, in order to assess how far their commitments might deliver meaningful contributions to the global 2°C target and to sustainable broad-based adaptation benefits. Though agriculture-related emissions are prominent in emission profiles of South Asian countries, their emission reduction commitments are less likely to include agriculture, partly because of a concern over food security.

Trophy hunting in Africa is currently under pressure as some countries explore various policies that aim to put a halt to an activity that many people in the Western developed world view as unpalatable or unethical. However, in the debate over trophy hunting policy the voices of local communities, who in many instances allow wildlife to persist on the lands they control because of the tangible benefits they derive from it, have been largely unheard. Here, we report on an opportunistic survey of 160 rural residents of Namibia from 32 communal conservancies that generate varying levels of livelihood benefits from wildlife uses, including trophy hunting. About three quarters of these community members were employed in some manner by the conservancy. We used a mixed methods approach to assess community members' perceptions on trophy hunting, the benefits it generates, whether it was "good" or "bad", and how they would respond if trophy hunting were halted. 91% stated they were not in favour of a ban on trophy hunting, and only 11% of respondents would support wildlife on communal lands if a ban were in fact enacted. Most respondents (90%) were happy with trophy hunting occurring on communal lands due to the benefits it provides. These responses were consistent across respondent demographic categories, although those who stand to lose the most (i.e., those employed by or managing a conservancy), viewed trophy hunting in an even more favourable light. Our results suggest that in Namibia, a trophy hunting ban would be viewed very poorly by conservancy residents, and would seriously weaken their support for wildlife conservation. The imposition of trophy hunting policies by countries far from where rural land managers are conserving wildlife would not only restrict communities' livelihood options, but may have perverse, negative impacts on wildlife conservation.

Aichi Target 11 has galvanized expansion of the global protected area network, but there is little evidence that this brings real biodiversity gains. We argue that area-based prioritization risks unintended perverse consequences and that the focus of protected area target development should shift from quantity to quality.

Landscape resistance is vital to connectivity modeling and frequently derived from resource selection functions (RSFs). RSFs estimate relative probability of use and tend to focus on understanding habitat preferences during slow, routine animal movements (e.g., foraging). Dispersal and migration, however, can produce rarer, faster movements, in which case models of movement speed rather than resource selection may be more realistic for identifying habitats that facilitate connectivity. To compare two connectivity modeling approaches applied to resistance estimated from models of movement rate and resource selection. Using movement data from migrating elk, we evaluated continuous time Markov chain (CTMC) and movement-based RSF models (i.e., step selection functions [SSFs]). We applied circuit theory and shortest random path (SRP) algorithms to CTMC, SSF and null (i.e., flat) resistance surfaces to predict corridors between elk seasonal ranges. We evaluated prediction accuracy by comparing model predictions to empirical elk movements. All connectivity models predicted elk movements well, but models applied to CTMC resistance were more accurate than models applied to SSF and null resistance. Circuit theory models were more accurate on average than SRP models. CTMC can be more realistic than SSFs for estimating resistance for fast movements, though SSFs may demonstrate some predictive ability when animals also move slowly through corridors (e.g., stopover use during migration). High null model accuracy suggests seasonal range data may also be critical for predicting direct migration routes. For animals that migrate or disperse across large landscapes, we recommend incorporating CTMC into the connectivity modeling toolkit.

Protected areas are the primary management tool for conserving ecosystems, yet their intended outcomes may often be compromised by poaching. Consequently, many protected areas are ineffective 'paper parks' that contribute little towards conserving ecosystems. Poaching can be prevented through enforcement and engaging with community members so they support protected areas. It is not clear how much needs to be spent on enforcement and engagement to ensure they are frequent enough to be effective at conserving biodiversity. We develop models of enforcement against illegal fishing in marine protected areas. We apply the models to data on fishing rates and fish biomass from a marine protected area in Raja Ampat, Indonesia and explore how frequent enforcement patrols need to be to achieve targets for coral reef fish biomass.

The United States has been at the forefront of marine resource stewardship since the 1970s when Federal officials began to implement a series of national policies aimed at the conservation and management of public trust resources in the ocean. Beginning with the establishment of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, soon followed by several pieces of landmark legislation, this era marked the start of a continuing effort to integrate ecosystem science with marine resource management. Among the most important bipartisan legacies of this effort has been the steady expansion of marine managed areas in U.S. coastal and ocean waters. This legacy is being challenged as the Trump Administration considers whether to alter or eliminate the nation's Marine National Monuments and National Marine Sanctuaries.

Despite the plethora of discourse about how sustainable development should be pursued, the production of agricultural commodities is held responsible for driving c. 80% of global deforestation. Partially as a response, the private sector has made commitments to eliminate deforestation, but it is not yet clear what factors these commitments should take into account to effectively halt deforestation while also contributing to broader sustainable development. In the context of private sector commitments to zero-deforestation, this study characterizes the perceptions of different types of stakeholders along the cocoa and chocolate supply chain in order to determine the main challenges and solutions to encourage sustainable production. The main purpose is to understand the key factors that could facilitate a transition to a more sustainable supply while harmonizing the multiple actors' interests.

The construction of the Three Gorges Dam, along with other development in the Yangtze River basin, has had profound consequences for the river's flow and sediment regime. This has had major impacts on the geomorphology and ecology of the river downstream of the dam, with related impacts on biodiversity, including fish populations, livelihoods, and water security in the middle and lower Yangtze. Changes to fish populations have included a fall of around 90% in the total number of fish fry for the four economically-important Chinese carp species, caused at least in part by alterations in the flow regime. In response, there has been increased research into the significance of flow regimes for Chinese carp, as well as other aspects of river health. A partnership between the Chinese Government, the dam operator, scientists, and conservationists has led to pilot environmental flow releases over a 5-year period in an attempt to mitigate some of these impacts. Subsequent monitoring has shown that numbers of fish fry are increasing from the low they had fallen to in 2008. Drawing on lessons from the pilot environmental flow releases, in October 2015 the official regulations that govern operations of the Three Gorges Dam were amended to incorporate additional objectives, including incorporating environmental flow releases as part of the routine operation of the dam. This paper describes the processes that led to the environmental flow program from Three Gorges, a review of monitoring data collected during the pilot environmental flow releases, the subsequent amendment of the dam operating rules, and prospects for expanding environmental flow implementation in the Yangtze River in coming years.

Allocating resources to growth and reproduction requires grazers to invest time in foraging, but foraging promotes dental senescence and constrains expression of proactive antipredator behaviors such as vigilance. We explored the relationship between carnivore prey selection and prey foraging effort using incisors collected from the kills of coursing and stalking carnivores. We predicted that prey investing less effort in foraging would be killed more frequently by coursers, predators that often exploit physical deficiencies. However, such prey could expect delayed dental senescence. We predicted that individuals investing more effort in foraging would be killed more frequently by stalkers, predators that often exploit behavioral vulnerabilities. Further these prey could expect earlier dental senescence. We tested these predictions by comparing variation in age-corrected tooth wear, a proxy of cumulative foraging effort, in adult (3.4-11.9 years) wildebeest killed by coursing and stalking carnivores. Predator type was a strong predictor of age-corrected tooth wear within each gender. We found greater foraging effort and earlier expected dental senescence, equivalent to 2.6 additional years of foraging, in female wildebeest killed by stalkers than in females killed by coursers. However, male wildebeest showed the opposite pattern with the equivalent of 2.4 years of additional tooth wear in males killed by coursers as compared to those killed by stalkers. Sex-specific variation in the effects of foraging effort on vulnerability was unexpected and suggests that behavioral and physical aspects of vulnerability may not be subject to the same selective pressures across genders in multipredator landscapes.

A key question for sustainability science is how to generate higher well-being by, or despite, reducing personal consumption – an outcome known as the "double dividend" (Alfredsson et al., 2018; Jackson, 2005). The idea of the double dividend originated from studies suggesting that, beyond a certain level, increases in GDP or income have little impact on well-being, happiness, or life satisfaction (Costanza et al., 2009; Easterlin et al., 2009; Kahneman and Deaton, 2010; Layard, 2006). Coupled with evidence of environmental degradation associated with economic growth and consumption (Steffen et al., 2007), these studies led scholars to explore how to increase well-being in a more environmentally responsible way.

Coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them are increasingly exposed to the adverse effects of global environmental change (GEC), including increases in sea-surface temperature and ocean acidification. Managers and decision-makers need a better understanding of the options available for action in the face of these changes. We refine a typology of actions developed by Gattuso et al. (2015) that could serve in prioritizing strategies to deal with the impacts of GEC on reefs and people. Using the typology we refined, we investigate the scientific effort devoted to four types of management strategies: mitigate, protect, repair, adapt that we tie to the components of the chain of impact they affect: ecological vulnerability or social vulnerability. A systematic literature review is used to investigate quantitatively how scientific effort over the past 25 years is responding to the challenge posed by GEC on coral reefs and to identify gaps in research. A growing literature has focused on these impacts and on management strategies to sustain coral reef social-ecological systems. We identify 767 peer reviewed articles published between 1990 and 2016 that address coral reef management in the context of GEC. The rate of publication of such studies has increased over the years, following the general trend in climate research. The literature focuses on protect strategies the most, followed by mitigate and adapt strategies, and finally repair strategies. Developed countries, particularly Australia and the United States, are over-represented as authors and locations of case studies across all types of management strategies. Authors affiliated in developed countries play a major role in investigating case studies across the globe. The majority of articles focus on only one of the four categories of actions. A gap analysis reveals three directions for future research: (1) more research is needed in South-East Asia and other developing countries where the impacts of GEC on coral reefs will be the greatest, (2) more scholarly effort should be devoted to understanding how adapt and repair strategies can deal with the impacts of GEC, and (3) the simultaneous assessment of multiple strategies is needed to understand trade-offs and synergies between actions.

Projected climate and environmental change are expected to increase the pressure on global freshwater resources. To prepare for and cope with the related risks, stakeholders need to devise plans for sustainable management of river systems, which in turn require the identification of management-appropriate operational units, such as groups of rivers that share similar environmental and biological characteristics. Ideally, these units are of manageable size and biotically or abiotically distinguishable across a variety of river types. Here, we aim to address this need by presenting a new global river classification framework (GloRiC) to establish a common vocabulary and standardized approach to the development of globally comprehensive and integrated river classifications that can be tailored to different goals and requirements.

Global pressures on freshwater ecosystems are high and rising. Viewed primarily as a resource for humans, current practices of water use have led to catastrophic declines in freshwater species and the degradation of freshwater ecosystems, including their genetic and functional diversity. Approximately three-quarters of the world's inland wetlands have been lost, one-third of the 28,000 freshwater species assessed for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List are threatened with extinction, and freshwater vertebrate populations are undergoing declines that are more rapid than those of terrestrial and marine species. This global loss continues unchecked, despite the importance of freshwater ecosystems as a source of clean water, food, livelihoods, recreation, and inspiration.

This paper analyses the contributions of community and smallholder forestry (CSF) to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). A CSF-SDG positive feedback model is proposed; a model that holds that successful CSF positively contributes to 13 SDGs and 31 SDG targets. Recent CSF meta-studies have scrutinized factors leading to CSF success and found some 10 factors and conditions that contribute to that objective. If efforts towards reaching the SDGs support or enhance these factors leading to the greater success of CSF, this in turn would boost CSF contributions to the SDGs and their targets. As a result, CSF or active support for CSF, focusing on the 10 CSF factors that favor success, can be linked to 48 unique SDG targets. The analysis suggests that there is a significant opportunity to explore win-win options for efforts to support CSF and contribute to SDGs, but also for efforts to pursue the SDGs and targets that favor CSF, which will in turn boost the contribution of CSF to the SDGs. The case of CSF and its feedback links with the SDGs suggests that it may be relevant to identify interactions between the SDGs and other socio-ecological realities and related research.

Ecosystem service (ES) maps are instrumental for the assessment and communication of the costs and benefits of human-nature interactions. Yet, despite the increased understanding that we live a globalized tele-coupled world where such interactions extend globally, ES maps are usually place-based and fail to depict the global flows of locally produced ES. We aim to shift the way ES maps are developed by bringing global value chains into ES assessments. We propose and apply a conceptual framework that integrates ES provision principles, with value chain analysis and human well-being assessment methods, while considering the spatial dimension of these components in ES mapping. We apply this framework to the case of seafood provision from purse seine tuna fishery in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. The ES maps produced demonstrate the flow of a marine ES to a series of global beneficiaries via different trade and mobility pathways. We identify three types of flows – one to one, closed loop and open loop. We emphasize the need to consider a series of intermediate beneficiaries in ES mapping despite the lack of data. We highlight the need for a shift in ES mapping, to better include global commodity flows, across spatial scales.

• We found that 27 academic fields within the umbrella field of human-animal studies study human-animal relationships.
• There is a strong differentiation between the fields that study "animals as constructed" vs. those that study "animals as such".
• All these fields have much to contribute to conservation, but interdisciplinary research collaborations remain scarce.

The links between plantation expansion and deforestation in Borneo are debated. We used satellite imagery to map annual loss of old-growth forests, expansion of industrial plantations (oil palm and pulpwood), and their overlap in Borneo from 2001 to 2017. In 17 years, forest area declined by 14% (6.04 Mha), including 3.06 Mha of forest ultimately converted into industrial plantations. Plantations expanded by 170% (6.20 Mha: 88% oil palm; 12% pulpwood). Most forests converted to plantations were cleared and planted in the same year (92% 2.83 Mha). Annual forest loss generally increased before peaking in 2016 (0.61 Mha) and declining sharply in 2017 (0.25 Mha). After peaks in 2009 and 2012, plantation expansion and associated forest conversion have been declining in Indonesia and Malaysia. Annual plantation expansion is positively correlated with annual forest loss in both countries. The correlation vanishes when we consider plantation expansion versus forests that are cleared but not converted to plantations. The price of crude palm oil is positively correlated with plantation expansion in the following year in Indonesian (not Malaysian) Borneo. Low palm oil prices, wet conditions, and improved fire prevention all likely contributed to reduced 2017 deforestation. Oversight of company conduct requires transparent concession ownership.

Species prioritization efforts are a common strategy implemented to efficiently and effectively apply conservation efforts and allocate resources to address global declines in biodiversity. These structured processes help identify species that best represent the entire species community; however, these methods are often subjective and focus on a limited number of species characteristics. We developed an objective, transparent approach using a Structured Decision Making (SDM) framework to identify a group of grassland bird species on which to focus conservation efforts that considers biological, social, and logistical criteria in the Northern Great Plains of North America. The process quantified these criteria to ensure representation of a variety of species and habitats and included the relative value of each criterion to the working group. These SDM methods provide a unique roadmap for prioritization of grassland bird species and offer an objective, transparent, and repeatable method of selection for priority species in other well-studied ecosystems.

Mangroves, seagrass meadows, and salt marshes, collectively termed "Blue Forests," are counted among the most valuable and productive coastal ecosystems on the planet. A recent literature review of the Blue Forest valuation research identified mangroves as the most frequently analyzed of these ecosystems, yet the literature demonstrates several deficits in terms of geographic location of studies, methods used to value the services, and most notably, a lack of valuation for cultural services. To better understand this, we analyzed the studies dealing specifically with mangroves from the original literature review to quantify what has been valued, where, by which methods, and the variation in the published values. We then use this information to synthesize our current level of knowledge on the type and value of services provided by mangroves, discuss data gaps, and address specifically the collection of data relevant to cultural ecosystem services (CES).

Coastal ecosystems provide a number of life-sustaining services, from which benefits to humans can be derived. They are often inhabited by aquatic vegetation, such as mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes. Given their wide geographic distribution and coverage, there is need to prioritize conservation efforts. An understanding of the human importance of these ecosystems can help with that prioritization. Here, we summarize a literature review of ecosystem service valuation studies. We discuss (1) the degree to which current valuation information is sufficient to prioritize blue carbon habitat conservation and restoration, (2) the relevancy of available studies, and (3) what is missing from the literature that would be needed to effectively prioritize conservation. Given the recent focus on blue carbon ecosystems in the international conservation, there are a number of areas where research on blue forest ecosystem assessment and valuation could be improved, from enhancing available methodologies to increasing valuation of rarely studied ecosystem services and wider geographic coverage of valuation studies. This review highlights these gaps and calls for a focus on broadening the ecosystem services that are valued, the methods used, and increasing valuation in underrepresented regions.

Non-state and subnational climate actors have become central to global climate change governance. Quantitatively assessing climate mitigation undertaken by these entities is critical to understand the credibility of this trend. In this Perspective, we make recommendations regarding five main areas of research and methodological development related to evaluating non-state and subnational climate actions: defining clear boundaries and terminology; use of common methodologies to aggregate and assess non-state and subnational contributions; systematically dealing with issues of overlap; estimating the likelihood of implementation; and addressing data gaps.

Natural resource managers face the need to develop strategies to adapt to projected future climates. Few existing climate adaptation frameworks prescribe where to place management actions to be most effective under anticipated future climate conditions. We developed an approach to spatially allocate climate adaptation actions and applied the method to whitebark pine (WBP; Pinus albicaulis) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). WBP is expected to be vulnerable to climatemediated shifts in suitable habitat, pests, pathogens, and fire. We spatially prioritized management actions aimed at mitigating climate impacts to WBP under two management strategies: (1) current management and (2) climate-informed management. The current strategy reflected management actions permissible under existing policy and access constraints. Our goal was to understand how consideration of climate might alter the placement of management actions, so the climateinformed strategies did not include these constraints. The spatial distribution of actions differed among the current and climate-informed management strategies, with 33-60% more wilderness area prioritized for action under climate-informed management. High priority areas for implementing management actions include the 1-8% of the GYE where current and climate-informed management agreed, since this is where actions are most likely to be successful in the long-term and where current management permits implementation. Areas where climate-informed strategies agreed with one another but not with current management (6-22% of the GYE) are potential locations for experimental testing of management actions. Our method for spatial climate adaptation planning is applicable to any species for which information regarding climate vulnerability and climate-mediated risk factors is available.

Marine reserves are a commonly applied conservation tool, but their size is often chosen based on considerations of socioeconomic rather than ecological impact. Here, we use a simple individual-based model together with the latest empirical information on home ranges, densities and schooling behavior in 66 coral reef fishes to quantify the conservation effectiveness of various reserve sizes. We find that standard reserves with a diameter of 1-2 km can achieve partial protection (greater than or equal to 50% of the maximum number of individuals) of 56% of all simulated species. Partial protection of the most important fishery species, and of species with diverse functional roles, required 2-10 km wide reserves. Full protection of nearly all simulated species required 100 km wide reserves. Linear regressions based on the mean home range and density, and even just the maximum length, of fish species approximated these results reliably, and can therefore be used to support locally effective decision making.

Analysis of long-term trends in forest carbon stocks is challenged by interactions among climate change, wildfire and other disturbances, forest management actions, and heterogeneous vegetation responses. For such circumstances where complex interactions make it difficult to encompass the full range of processes in any one mode of analysis, expert elicitation is a well-developed method for documenting judgments about uncertainty, based on available evidence, to inform ongoing decision-making. Applying this method for the Sierra Nevada, we evaluate subjective probabilistic estimates of trends in aboveground forest carbon for different management scenarios toward the goal of maximizing carbon stored, while also considering implications for wildfire risk. The analysis examines the effects of four treatments in isolation (thinning, timber harvesting, prescribed burning, managed wildfire), as well as a user-defined management portfolio allocating resources across five management practices (thinning, harvesting, prescribed burning, firefighting, and restoration). The expert elicitation suggests that aboveground forest carbon stocks will decline 8%, from 126 to 116 tC/ha, between 2030 and 2100 (median estimate across experts) assuming conventional forest management practices are continued. Out of all surveyed practices, the custom user-defined management portfolio results in the highest carbon stock of 129 tC/ha which is 11% higher than conventional practice in 2100 at the 50th percentile. The expert elicitation indicates less beneficial carbon sequestration outcomes than recent modeling studies. Suggesting co-benefits across objectives, 75 experts collectively estimate a 61% likelihood that managing for carbon also reduces wildfire risk. By contrast, decreases in carbon stocks are anticipated for large magnitudes of climate change or substantial decreases in forest management investments.

Brood parasites lay thick-shelled eggs and numerous hypotheses have been proposed to explain the significance of this trait. We examined whether thick eggshells protect the parasite egg during laying events. We used eggs of the parasitic shiny cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) and its hosts, the house wren (Troglodytes aedon) and chalk-browed mockingbird (Mimus saturninus) in South America, and the eggs of the parasitic brown-headed cowbird (M. ater) and its hosts, the house wren and red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) in North America. We experimentally dropped parasite eggs onto host eggs to simulate laying by the parasite, parasite eggs onto parasite eggs to simulate multiple parasitism, host eggs onto parasite eggs to simulate hosts laying from the height cowbirds lay, and stirred eggs to simulate jostling that may occur when cowbirds and hosts interact during laying events. We found that cowbird eggs were significantly less likely to be damaged than host eggs when they were laid onto a host egg and when host and cowbird eggs were laid onto them. There was minimal damage to eggs during jostling experiments, thereby failing to support the hypothesis that thick eggshells provide protection when eggs are jostled. These findings support the hypotheses that thick eggshells resist damage when laid from an elevated position, when additional cowbird eggs are laid onto them in multiply parasitized nests, and these eggs also damage host eggs when laid.

The value of diverse perspectives in social-ecological systems research and transdisciplinarity is well recognized. Human well-being and how it is derived from dynamic ecosystems is one area where local knowledge and perspectives are critical for designing interventions for sustainable pathways out of poverty. However, to realize the potential to enrich the understanding of complex dynamics for sustainability, there is a need for methods that engage holistic ways of perceiving human-nature interactions from multiple worldviews that also acknowledge inequalities between scientific and other forms of knowledge. To date, photovoice has been used to elicit local knowledge and perspectives about ecosystem changes and ecosystem services. We expand this to explore the utility of the method for facilitating the mobilization of plural insights on human well-being, which is subject to complex social-ecological dynamics, and its role in processes for coproduction of knowledge that acknowledges the need for equity and usefulness for all actors. Drawing on two cases, one in community-based marine protected areas in Kenya and one dealing with agricultural decline and rural-urban migration in South Africa, we demonstrate two modes of application of photovoice: as a scoping exercise and as a deep learning tool. The studies descriptively illustrate how photovoice can depict the hidden and often neglected intangible connections to ecosystems, plural and disaggregated perceptions of complex social-ecological dynamics, and issues of access and distribution of ecosystem benefits. The studies also show how photovoice can encourage equitable participation of nonacademic actors in research processes and in particular contribute to mobilization of knowledge and translation of knowledge across knowledge systems. We discuss how local perspectives may be further recognized and incorporated in transdisciplinary research and reflect on the practical and ethical challenges posed by using photographs in participatory research on social-ecological systems.

Social conflicts related to biodiversity conservation and adaptation policy to climate change in coastal areas illustrate the need to reinforce understanding of the “matters of concern” as well as the “matters of fact”. In this paper, we argue that we must rethink adaptation from a new perspective, considering that humans together function as both ecological actors and social actors. Using international examples from the UNESCO world biosphere reserve network, we show that an ontological perspective may provide a simple and compact way to think about coupled infrastructure systems and systematic formalism, allowing for understanding of the relational matrix between actors, institutions and ecosystems. We contend that our formalism responds to three challenges. First, it encompasses the different regional contexts and policies that rely on the same ontology. Second, it provides a method to relate any local adaptation plan to the conservation paradigms that originate from the ecological modernization of policies. Third, it facilitates the discovery of drivers and processes involved in adaptation and management regime shifts by highlighting the way contextual factors configure, determine the structure of the action situation of the Institutional Analysis and Development framework (IAD) (Ostrom 2005), and how it operates.

Assessments of programs offering payments for forest conservation have largely focused on their contribution to avoiding deforestation but have overlooked degradation. We integrated remotely-sensed forest cover images, georeferenced landscape information, field-level forest inventories and face-to-face landowner surveys to quantify avoided deforestation and degradation within the context of Ecuador's Socio Bosque Program (PSB). We found the PSB prevented 9% of enrolled forest area in Ecuador's Amazon Basin from being deforested over the 2008-2014 period. This value is higher than previous assessments conducted in other Latin American nations. Inventory data suggest that forests within PSB-enrolled areas exhibited less evidence of degradation although statistical differences were only marginally significant On average, PSB-enrolled forests had between one and two more tree species per hectare than non-enrolled forests. These additional tree species were twice as likely to be of commercial timber value and at greater threat of extinction.

Tourism may benefit conservation, but some wildlife viewing practices threaten the sustainability of both business and conservation initiatives. In north-west Namibia, conservation-oriented tourism provides tourists with an opportunity to encounter the critically-endangered black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis on foot. We used 123 tourist-rhinoceros encounters and employed a statistical modeling approach to: (1) identify the characteristics of human-rhinoceros encounters that caused rhinoceros disturbance and displacement; and (2) design rhinoceros-human encounter guidelines that improve sustainability. A model-averaging, information-theoretic approach identified tourist approach distance, viewing time and individual encounter exposure as the most significant predictors of rhinoceros disturbance level. A suite of rhinoceros viewing scenarios were modeled for acceptable disturbance risks, and adopted as a rhinoceros viewing policy. The policy reduced encounter displacements by 80% while maintaining a 95% positive feedback rating from guests. We demonstrate an evidence-based, policy-oriented management approach can help improve tourism's contribution towards the conservation of an endangered species.

Increasing human populations around the global coastline have caused extensive loss, degradation and fragmentation of coastal ecosystems, threatening the delivery of important ecosystem services1. As a result, alarming losses of mangrove, coral reef, seagrass, kelp forest and coastal marsh ecosystems have occurred1,2,3,4,5,6. However, owing to the difficulty of mapping intertidal areas globally, the distribution and status of tidal flats–one of the most extensive coastal ecosystems–remain unknown7. Here we present an analysis of over 700,000 satellite images that maps the global extent of and change in tidal flats over the course of 33 years (1984-2016). We find that tidal flats, defined as sand, rock or mud flats that undergo regular tidal inundation7, occupy at least 127,921 km2(124,286-131,821 km2, 95% confidence interval). About 70% of the global extent of tidal flats is found in three continents (Asia (44% of total), North America (15.5% of total) and South America (11% of total)), with 49.2% being concentrated in just eight countries (Indonesia, China, Australia, the United States, Canada, India, Brazil and Myanmar). For regions with sufficient data to develop a consistent multi-decadal time series–which included East Asia, the Middle East and North America–we estimate that 16.02% (15.62-16.47%, 95% confidence interval) of tidal flats were lost between 1984 and 2016. Extensive degradation from coastal development1, reduced sediment delivery from major rivers8,9, sinking of riverine deltas8,10, increased coastal erosion and sea-level rise11 signal a continuing negative trajectory for tidal flat ecosystems around the world. Our high-spatial-resolution dataset delivers global maps of tidal flats, which substantially advances our understanding of the distribution, trajectory and status of these poorly known coastal ecosystems.

While corridors in conservation have a long history of use, evaluations of proposed or existing corridors in conservation landscapes are important to avoid the same fate as poorly-functioning "paper parks". We used resistance surface modeling and circuit theory to evaluate a number of corridors developed at regional and at local scales that aim to improve connectivity for large wildlife in the central part of the Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier conservation area. We used hourly GPS data from 16 collared African elephants (Loxodonta africana), and associated environmental data at used versus available movement paths, to develop a hierarchical Bayesian path selection function model. We used the resulting resistance surface across the study area as an input into circuit theory modeling to assess how well connectivity levels were captured by both types of corridors relative to several alternative scenarios. We found that the majority of regional-scale corridors performed relatively well at capturing elevated levels of connectivity relative to non-corridor comparisons, with 7 of 9 corridors rated as good or better in terms of how they captured electrical current levels (a proxy for connectivity). In contrast, only 14 of 33 smaller-scale, local corridors captured significantly higher levels of connectivity than adjacent non-corridor areas. Our results have practical implications for the design and implementation of wildlife connectivity conservation efforts in the world's largest transfrontier conservation landscape. Modern connectivity science approaches can help evaluate which proposed corridors are likely to function as intended, and which may need further refinement.

Increasing interest in measuring, modelling and valuing ecosystem services (ES), the benefits that ecosystems provide to people, has resulted in the development of an array of ES assessment tools in recent years. Selecting an appropriate tool for measuring and modelling ES can be challenging. This document provides guidance for practitioners on existing tools that can be applied to measure or model ES provided by important sites for biodiversity and nature conservation, including Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), natural World Heritage sites (WHS), and protected areas (PAs). Selecting an appropriate tool requires identifying the specific question being addressed, what sorts of results or outputs are required, and consideration of practical factors such as the level of expertise, time and data required for applying any given tool. This guide builds on existing reviews of ES assessment tools, but has an explicit focus on assessing ES for sites of importance for biodiversity and nature conservation.

A large body of research has explored opportunities to mitigate climate change in agricultural systems; however, less research has explored opportunities across the food system. Here we expand the existing research with a review of potential mitigation opportunities across the entire food system, including in pre-production, production, processing, transport, consumption and loss and waste. We detail and synthesize recent research on the topic, and explore the applicability of different climate mitigation strategies in varying country contexts with different economic and agricultural systems. Further, we highlight some potential adaptation co-benefits of food system mitigation strategies and explore the potential implications of such strategies on food systems as a whole. We suggest that a food systems research approach is greatly needed to capture such potential synergies, and highlight key areas of additional research including a greater focus on low- and middle-income countries in particular. We conclude by discussing the policy and finance opportunities needed to advance mitigation strategies in food systems.

In the decade since the Brisbane Declaration (2007) called upon governments and other decision makers to integrate environmental flows into water management, practitioners have continued to seek ways to expand implementation of flow restoration or protection. The science and practice of environmental flow assessment have evolved accordingly, generating diverse methods of differing complexity from which water managers or regulators need to select an approach best fitting their context. Uncertainty over method choice remains one of several of the more readily overcome barriers that have contributed to slowing the implementation of environmental flows. In this paper, we introduce a three-level framework intended to help overcome such barriers by intertwining holistic environmental flow assessment with implementation. The three levels differ based on the availability of resources and level of resolution required in the flow recommendations, with the framework designed to guide the user toward implementation at any level as soon as possible, based on at least some of the recommendations. Level 1 is a desktop analysis based on existing data, typically conducted by one or a few scientists. Level 2 is similarly mostly reliant on existing information, but brings together a multidisciplinary set of experts within a facilitated workshop setting to use both this knowledge and professional judgment to develop flow recommendations and fill data gaps. The most comprehensive assessment level, Level 3, guides the collection of new data and/or construction of models to test hypotheses developed by the expert team. Key characteristics of this framework include: (1) methods are matched to the levels of resources available and certainty required; funds for research are invested strategically to address critical knowledge gaps and thereby reduce uncertainty; (2) the framework is iterative and information generated at one level provides the foundation for, and identifies the need for, higher levels and; and (3) processes for flow assessment and implementation are intertwined, meaning they move forward in coordinated fashion, with each process informing the other. Using practical cases from North America, we illustrate how environmental flow assessment at each level has led to implementation, with changes in policy or management.

Climate change has significant consequences for land conservation. Government agencies and nonprofit land trusts heavily rely on perpetual conservation easements. However, climate change and other dynamic landscape changes raise questions about the effectiveness and adaptability of permanent conservation instruments like conservation easements. Building upon a study of 269 conservation easements and interviews with seventy conservation-easement professionals in six different states, we ex-amine the adaptability of conservation easements to climate change. We outline four potential approaches to enhance conservation outcomes under climate change: shift land-acquisition priorities to account for potential climate change impacts; consider conservation tools other than perpetual conservation easements; ensure that the terms of conservation easements permit the holder to adapt to climate change successfully; and provide for more active stewardship of conservation lands. There is still a good deal of uncertainty as to the legal fate of a conservation easement that no longer meets its original purposes. Many state laws provide that conservation easements can be modified or terminated in the same manner as traditional easements. Yet conservation easements are in many ways unlike other easements. The beneficiary is usually the public, not merely a neighboring landowner, and the holder is always a nonprofit conservation organization or a government agency. Thus, there is a case to be made for adaptive protection. An overly narrow focus on perpetual property rights could actually thwart efforts to meet adaptation needs over the long term. We call for careful attention to ensuring conservation outcomes in dynamic landscapes over time.

The global palm oil value chain has grown in complexity; stakeholder relationships and linkages are increasingly shaped by new public and private standards that aim to ameliorate social and environmental costs while harnessing economic gains. Regulatory initiatives in the emerging policy regime complex struggle to resolve sector-wide structural performance issues: pervasive land conflicts, yield differences between companies and smallholders, and carbon emissions arising from deforestation and peatland conversion. Identifying opportunities for more effective governance of the palm oil value chain and supply landscapes, this paper explores disconnects, complementarities, and antagonisms between public regulations and private standards, looking at the global, national, and subnational policy domains shaping chain actors' conduct. Greater complementarities have emerged among transnational instruments, but state regulation disconnects persist and antagonisms prevail between national state regulations and transnational private standards. Emerging experimental approaches, particularly at subnational level, aim to improve coordination to both enhance complementarities and resolve disconnects.

Deforestation and forest fragmentation are leading drivers of biodiversity loss. Protected areas have been the leading conservation policy response, yet their scale and scope remain inadequate to meet biodiversity conservation targets. Managed forest concessions increasingly have been recognized as a complement to protected areas in meeting conservation targets. Similarly, programs for voluntary third-party certification of concession management aim to create incentives for logging companies to manage forests more sustainably. Rigorous evidence on the impacts from large-scale certification programs is thereby critical, yet detailed field observations are limited, temporally and spatially. Remotely-sensed data, in contrast, can provide repeated observations over time and at a fine spatial scale, albeit with less detail.

In July 2017 the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and WWF's Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program (EFN) hosted a knowledge cafe at the Society for Conservation Biology's 28th International Congress for Conservation Biology in Cartagena, Colombia. The event brought together 20 participants from 10 countries (Brazil, China, Colombia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Tanzania, UK, USA and Viet Nam) for an open and participatory discussion, based on structured questions, to help understand the types and levels of support required for early and mid-career conservationists. Responses were focused on the context of conservationists from countries with developing and emerging economies.

Riparian and floodplain corridors are particularly biodiverse and often form key habitat for animals in the terrestrial landscape and in most parts of the world they support more species of plants and animals than any other landscape unit.

The maintenance and restoration of riparian and floodplain corridors is a conservation priority for both freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems with considerable benefits to be gained from restoring riparian and floodplain forests. These forests play key roles in providing organic matter that drives elements of the aquatic food chain, forming physical habitat, filtering out pollutants and providing shade for maintaining appropriate light environments and water temperatures. Floodplains provide habitat, food and recruitment opportunities for fishes and other fauna.

A key question for managers restoring riparian corridors is ‘how wide is wide enough’? The minimal answer could be wide enough to enable full development of the vegetation canopy to maximize shade across the relevant water body and form an adequate mesic (moist, humid) micro-climate. A more informed answer is that the full width of the regularly inundated riparian and floodplain land should be restored.

Systems of river corridor protected areas have been established in many jurisdictions around the world based on criteria such as biological importance, maintaining free-flowing ecological processes and supporting cultural values. Increasingly dams and levee banks are being removed from rivers and their floodplains to restore ecosystem functions and services. Restoration of functional riparian and floodplain systems may aid flood management and enhance other climate change adaptation measures.

Sustainability challenges for nature and people are complex and interconnected, such that effective solutions require approaches and a common theory of change that bridge disparate disciplines and sectors. Causal chains offer promising approaches to achieving an integrated understanding of how actions affect ecosystems, the goods and services they provide, and ultimately, human well-being. Although causal chains and their variants are common tools across disciplines, their use remains highly inconsistent, limiting their ability to support and create a shared evidence base for joint actions. In this article, we present the foundational concepts and guidance of causal chains linking disciplines and sectors that do not often intersect to elucidate the effects of actions on ecosystems and society. We further discuss considerations for establishing and implementing causal chains, including nonlinearity, trade-offs and synergies, heterogeneity, scale, and confounding factors. Finally, we highlight the science, practice, and policy implications of causal chains to address real-world linked human–nature challenges.

The meta-ecosystem approach has significantly advanced ecosystem science and landscape ecology by explicitly addressing the flow of elements (live organisms, biotic and abiotic materials) among ecosystems at different temporal and spatial scales [1,2]. Gounand et al. [3] recently argued that the conciliation of theoretical and empirical studies on meta-ecosystems needs better quantification of spatial flows in terms of movements (dispersal, foraging, life-cycle, and migration), feedbacks, and resources.

The time of day that nestlings fledge from a nest is thought to be shaped by predation risk and energetics. To minimize predation risk, fledging is predicted to start as early in the day as possible so that nestlings can maximize time outside the nest to find a safe place to stay before nightfall. Fledging times are predicted to be tightly grouped and to not be affected by the number of nestlings, given that all nestlings are responding to the same relative risk of predation. Conversely, energetic considerations predict that fledging time of day should vary so that nestlings can maximize energy intake before having to forage for themselves. However, data to evaluate the relative importance of these drivers in grassland birds are scarce because of the difficulty of observing nestlings as they fledge. We used nest surveillance video from 178 nests to evaluate how the initiation and duration of fledging varied among 7 grassland passerine species, as well as by the number of nestlings in the nest and fledging date. Fledging initiation varied most strongly by species, with some effects of date. Across species, the median start time of fledging was 4.55 hr after sunrise. Fledging before the solstice started 30 min earlier compared to fledging at or after the solstice. Fledging duration increased with number of nestlings in the nest and was spread over >1 day in 21% of nests. While our results primarily supported the hypothesis that fledging is motivated by energetic considerations, additional data on basic life history traits and behavior will be needed to fully understand how fledging grassland birds balance energetics against predation risk.

As editors, we mark the launch of Conservation Science and Practice, a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), with the following remarks framing the purpose and aspirations of the journal. Our aim is to share scholarship on and experiences of the practice of conservation. We define conservation practice as the application of conservation principles or theory across conservation issues, from planning and directly managing nature to influencing public policy and private behaviors—at scales from local communities to international governing bodies. We are striving for Conservation Science and Practice to be a forum for sharing lessons learned from research and practice to reciprocally informing and improving both arenas.

Many human populations are dependent on marine ecosystems for a range of benefits, but we understand little about where and to what degree people rely on these ecosystem services. We created a new conceptual model to map the degree of human dependence on marine ecosystems based on the magnitude of the benefit, susceptibility of people to a loss of that benefit, and the availability of alternatives. We focused on mapping nutritional, economic, and coastal protection dependence, but our model is repeatable, scalable. applicable to other ecosystems, and designed to incorporate additional services and data. Here we show that dependence was highest for Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations and several West African countries. More than 775 million people live in areas with relatively high dependence scores. By identifying where and how people are dependent on marine ecosystems, our framework can be used to design more effective large-scale management and policy interventions.

The Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the most threatened mammals on Earth. The only remaining individuals live as part of a small population isolated in a single protected area, Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia. Despite almost a century of studies, little is known about the factors that affect Javan rhino demography and distribution. National park officials require such information to identify conservation strategies and track the success and failures of these efforts; translocating selected individuals to establish a second population has been considered, but the risks must be weighed. We show that the 2013 global population of Javan rhinos was 62 individuals, which is likely near the site's carrying capacity. Our analysis of rhino distribution indicates that tsunamis are a significant risk to the species in Ujung Kulon, justifying the risks of establishing additional populations. Continued individual-based monitoring is needed to guide future translocation decisions.

The food system is a major driver of climate change, changes in land use, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through excessive nitrogen and phosphorus inputs. Here we show that between 2010 and 2050, as a result of expected changes in population and income levels, the environmental effects of the food system could increase by 50-90% in the absence of technological changes and dedicated mitigation measures, reaching levels that are beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity. We analyse several options for reducing the environmental effects of the food system, including dietary changes towards healthier, more plant-based diets, improvements in technologies and management, and reductions in food loss and waste. We find that no single measure is enough to keep these effects within all planetary boundaries simultaneously, and that a synergistic combination of measures will be needed to sufficiently mitigate the projected increase in environmental pressures.

There is increasing interest in mining minerals on the seabed, including seafloor massive sulfide deposits that form at hydrothermal vents. The International Seabed Authority is currently drafting a Mining Code, including environmental regulations, for polymetallic sulfides and other mineral exploitation on the seabed in the area beyond national jurisdictions. This paper summarizes 1) the ecological vulnerability of active vent ecosystems and aspects of this vulnerability that remain subject to conjecture, 2) evidence for limited mineral resource opportunity at active vents, 3) non-extractive values of active vent ecosystems, 4) precedents and international obligations for protection of hydrothermal vents, and 5) obligations of the International Seabed Authority under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea for protection of the marine environment from the impacts of mining. Heterogeneity of active vent ecosystems makes it extremely challenging to identify "representative" systems for any regional, area-based management approach to conservation. Protection of active vent ecosystems from mining impacts (direct and indirect) would set aside only a small fraction of the international seabed and its mineral resources, would contribute to international obligations for marine conservation, would have non-extractive benefits, and would be a precautionary approach.

Incremental adaptation may be inadequate to deal with rapid shifts and tipping points for food production under climate change. The concepts of transformative and transformational adaptation have emerged in recent years to address the need for major, non-marginal transitions in sectors, such as agriculture in response to climate change. However, there is less empirical evidence of transformation in practice. Here we use a simple semi-quantitative definition to identify recorded cases of transformational adaptation in response to climate change. A structured search of academic literature found 23 empirical case studies that meet our criteria for transformation of agriculture under climate change: a response to climate risks along with a redistribution of at least a third in the primary factors of production (land, labor, capital) or the outputs and outcomes of production over a time period of 25 years or less.

Degradation of freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide is a primary cause of increasing water insecurity, raising the need for integrated solutions to freshwater management. While methods for characterizing the multi-faceted challenges of managing freshwater ecosystems abound, they tend to emphasize either social or ecological dimensions and fall short of being truly integrative. This paper suggests that management for sustainability of freshwater systems needs to consider the linkages between human water uses, freshwater ecosystems and governance. We present a conceptualization of freshwater resources as part of an integrated social-ecological system and propose a set of corresponding indicators to monitor freshwater ecosystem health and to highlight priorities for management. We demonstrate an application of this new framework—the Freshwater Health Index (FHI)—in the Dongjiang River Basin in southern China, where stakeholders are addressing multiple and conflicting freshwater demands. By combining empirical and modeled datasets with surveys to gauge stakeholders' preferences and elicit expert information about governance mechanisms, the FHI helps stakeholders understand the status of freshwater ecosystems in their basin, how ecosystems are being manipulated to enhance or decrease water-related services, and how well the existing water resource management regime is equipped to govern these dynamics over time. This framework helps to operationalize a truly integrated approach to water resource management by recognizing the interplay between governance, stakeholders, freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide.

Climate change mitigation scenarios are finding a wider set of users, including companies and financial institutions. Increased collaboration between scenario producers and these new communities will be mutually beneficial, educating companies and investors on climate risks while grounding climate science in real-world needs.


There is growing interest in sustainable intensification of aquaculture production. Yet little economic analysis has been done on farm-level effects of the economic sustainability of production intensification. Data from 83 shrimp farms (43 in Vietnam and 40 in Thailand) were used to identify (through principal component and cluster analyses) 13 clusters of management practices that reflected various scales of production intensity that ranged from 0–1999 kg/ha/crop to 10,000 kg/ha/crop and above, for both Penaeus monodon and Litopenaeus vannamei in Vietnam and Thailand. The clusters identified reflected sets of management practices that resulted in differing yields despite similarities in stocking densities among some clusters. The enterprise budget analysis developed showed that the more intensively managed clusters outperformed the less intensively managed clusters in economic terms. More intensively managed farm clusters had lower costs per metric ton of shrimp produced and were more profitable. The greater yields of shrimp produced per hectare of land and water resources in more intensively managed shrimp farms spread annual fixed costs across a greater volume of shrimp produced and reduced the cost per metric ton of shrimp. Costs per metric ton of shrimp produced decreased from the lowest to the highest intensity level (from US$10,245 at lowest intensity to US$3484 at highest for P. monodon and from US$24,301 to US$5387 for L. vannamei in Vietnam and from US$8184 at the lowest intensity level to US$3817 at the highest intensity level per metric ton for L. vannamei in Thailand). Costs of pond amendments used in shrimp production were particularly high in Vietnam and largely unwarranted, whereas fixed costs associated with the value of land, production facilities, equipment, and labor were sufficiently high in Thailand so that net returns were negative in the long run. Nevertheless, economic losses in Thailand were less at greater levels of intensification. The study demonstrated a clear value proposition for shrimp farmers to use natural resources (such as land) and other inputs in an efficient manner and supports findings from corresponding research on farm-level natural resource use efficiency. Additional research that incorporates economic analysis into on-farm studies of sustainable intensification of aquaculture is needed to provide ongoing guidance related to sustainable management practices for aquaculture.

Background Despite the connections between terrestrial and marine/freshwater livelihood strategies that we see in coastal regions across the world, the contribution of wild fisheries and fish farming is seldom considered in analyses of the global food system and is consequently underrepresented in major food security and nutrition policy initiatives. Understanding the degree to which farmers also consume fish, and how fishers also grow crops, would help to inform more resilient food security interventions. Results By compiling a dataset for 123,730 households across 6781 sampling clusters in 12 highly food-insecure countries, we find that between 10 and 45% of the population relies on fish for a core part of their diet. In four of our sample countries, fish-reliant households are poorer than their counterparts. Five countries show the opposite result, with fish-reliant households having higher household asset wealth. We also find that in all but two countries, fish-reliant households depend on land for farming just as much as do households not reliant on fish. Conclusions These results highlight the need for food security interventions that combine terrestrial and marine/freshwater programming if we are going to be successful in building a more resilient food system for the world’s most vulnerable people. Keywords Food security – Fish – Livelihoods – Wealth – Farming

The Missouri River Basin (MRB) functions as the “life zone” for the larger Mississippi River Basin, providing grassland habitat that infiltrates precipitation and recharges groundwater, reduces sediment erosion, filters nutrients, stores carbon, and provides critical habitat for wildlife. The role of this region as a producer of food and fuel, both nationally and internationally, creates unique challenges for conservation. To support conservation efforts and sustainable management of this invaluable resource, a large-scale, screening-level evaluation of the water quantity and quality benefits of land conservation efforts in the MRB was performed. This paper describes the development and application of a Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to the MRB study area to provide estimates of water quantity and quality (sediment, total phosphorus, total nitrogen) benefits from the avoided conversion of intact grassland to cultivated cropland. The results of this study indicate that the avoided conversion of grassland to cropland could potentially prevent more than 1.7 trillion gallons of surface runoff as well as prevent the export of approximately 46 million tons of sediment, 87 million pounds of total phosphorus, and 427 million pounds of total nitrogen from the MRB study area landscape every year.

Sufficiently rigorous monitoring and evaluation can assess the effectiveness of management actions to conserve natural resources. However, costs of monitoring can be high in relation to program budgets, so it is critical to design monitoring efforts to ensure a high return on investment. To assess the relative contribution of different monitoring strategies to yield information for management decisions, we examine the evolution of a multi-year monitoring program across several MPAs in West Papua, Indonesia. Three monitoring strategies were implemented: external expert, science practitioner, and community monitoring staff. We place the monitoring objectives in a decision science framework, with six explicit fundamental objectives for monitoring to evaluate performance of marine protected areas. We examine each strategy in light of the six objectives to evaluate: 1) power to detect change, 2) extent of local capacity development, and 3) cost effectiveness. Over time, costs were reduced and scientific value increased through clear communication of science objectives, outcome-driven experimental design, adequately resourced monitoring programs, and a long-term view that anticipates phasing out outside consultants and transitioning monitoring responsibilities fully to locally-based staff. Investments to develop capacity of staff living locally to perform data management, analysis, interpretation, and science communication proved the most cost-effective approach in the long-term. With many globally important ecosystems in developing countries, developing local scientific capacity for the full cycle of monitoring is key to informed decision-making and ensuring long-term sustainability of efforts to conserve biodiversity.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used globally to conserve marine resources. However, whether many MPAs are being effectively and equitably managed, and how MPA management influences substantive outcomes remain unknown. We developed a global database of management and fish population data (433 and 218 MPAs, respectively) to assess: MPA management processes; the effects of MPAs on fish populations; and relationships between management processes and ecological effects. Here we report that many MPAs failed to meet thresholds for effective and equitable management processes, with widespread shortfalls in staff and financial resources. Although 71% of MPAs positively influenced fish populations, these conservation impacts were highly variable. Staff and budget capacity were the strongest predictors of conservation impact: MPAs with adequate staff capacity had ecological effects 2.9 times greater than MPAs with inadequate capacity. Thus, continued global expansion of MPAs without adequate investment in human and financial capacity is likely to lead to sub-optimal conservation outcomes.

It is necessary, yet challenging, to manage coral reefs to simultaneously address a suite of global and local stressors that act over the short and long term. Therefore, managers need practical guidance on prioritizing the locations and types of conservation that most efficiently address their goals using limited resources.

This study is one of the first examples of a vulnerability assessment for coral reefs that uses downscaled global climate change projections and local anthropogenic stress data to prioritize coral reef locations for conservation investment. Vulnerability was separated into manageable and unmanageable components (bleaching likelihood and local anthropogenic stressors, respectively), and the highest priority was given to places with low levels of unmanageable threats and high levels of manageable threats. Following prioritization, resilience characteristics were derived from standard reef monitoring data and used to identify the specific conservation strategies most likely to succeed given local ecological conditions and threats.

Using Indonesian coral reefs as a case study, 9.1% of total coral reef area was identified as of high conservation priority, including parts of Raja Ampat, Sulawesi, and Sumatra that are not currently included in marine protected areas (MPAs).

Existing MPAs tend to be located in areas less threatened by local-scale anthropogenic activities, which has implications for both the implementation costs and the likely impact of conservation investment. This approach employs common and publicly available data and can therefore be replicated wherever managers face the familiar challenge of allocating limited conservation resources in the face of rapid global change and uncertainty.

The PREDICTS project—Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems (www.predicts.org.uk)—has collated from published studies a large, reasonably representative database of comparable samples of biodiversity from multiple sites that differ in the nature or intensity of human impacts relating to land use. We have used this evidence base to develop global and regional statistical models of how local biodiversity responds to these measures. We describe and make freely available this 2016 release of the database, containing more than 3.2 million records sampled at over 26,000 locations and representing over 47,000 species. We outline how the database can help in answering a range of questions in ecology and conservation biology. To our knowledge, this is the largest and most geographically and taxonomically representative database of spatial comparisons of biodiversity that has been collated to date; it will be useful to researchers and international efforts wishing to model and understand the global status of biodiversity.

We examined environmental and anthropogenic factors drive range loss in large mammals, using presence data of Amur tigers opportunistically collected between 2000 and 2012, and anthropogenic and environmental variables to model the distribution of the Amur tiger in northeastern China. Our results suggested that population distribution models of different subregions showed different habitat factors determining tiger population distribution patterns. Where farmland cover was over 50 km2 per pixel (196 km2), distance was within 15 km to the railway in Changbaishan and road density (length per pixel) increased in Wandashan, the relative probability of Amur tiger occurrence exhibited monotonic avoidance responses; however, where distance was within 150 km of the Sino-Russia border, the occurrence probability of Amur tiger was relatively high. We analyzed the avoidance or preference responses of Amur tiger distribution to elevation, snow depth and Viewshed. Furthermore, different subregional models detected a variety of spatial autocorrelation distances due to different population clustering patterns. We found that spatial models significantly improved model fits for non-spatial models and made more robust habitat suitability predications than that of non-spatial models. Consequently, these findings provide useful guidance for habitat conservation and management.

Several competing human behavior models have been proposed to model boundedly rational adversaries in repeated Stackelberg Security Games (SSG). However, these existing models fail to address three main issues which are detrimental to defender performance. First, while they attempt to learn adversary behavior models from adversaries' past actions (“attacks on targets”), they fail to take into account adversaries' future adaptation based on successes or failures of these past actions. Second, existing algorithms fail to learn a reliable model of the adversary unless there exists sufficient data collected by exposing enough of the attack surface – a situation that often arises in initial rounds of the repeated SSG. Third, current leading models have failed to include probability weighting functions, even though it is well known that human beings' weighting of probability is typically nonlinear.
To address these limitations of existing models, this article provides three main contributions. Our first contribution is a new human behavior model, SHARP, which mitigates these three limitations as follows: (i) SHARP reasons based on success or failure of the adversary's past actions on exposed portions of the attack surface to model adversary adaptivity; (ii) SHARP reasons about similarity between exposed and unexposed areas of the attack surface, and also incorporates a discounting parameter to mitigate adversary's lack of exposure to enough of the attack surface; and (iii) SHARP integrates a non-linear probability weighting function to capture the adversary's true weighting of probability. Our second contribution is a first “repeated measures study” – at least in the context of SSGs – of competing human behavior models. This study, where each experiment lasted a period of multiple weeks with individual sets of human subjects on the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform, illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of different models and shows the advantages of SHARP. Our third major contribution is to demonstrate SHARP's superiority by conducting real-world human subjects experiments at the Bukit Barisan Seletan National Park in Indonesia against wildlife security experts.

Overfishing threatens the sustainability of coastal marine biodiversity, especially in tropical developing countries. To counter this problem, about 200 governments worldwide have committed to protecting 10%–20% of national coastal marine areas. However, associated impacts on fisheries productivity are unclear and could weaken the food security of hundreds of millions of people who depend on diverse and largely unregulated fishing activities. Here, we present a systematic theoretic analysis of the ability of reserves to rebuild fisheries under such complex conditions, and we identify maximum reserve coverages for biodiversity conservation that do not impair long-term fisheries productivity. Our analysis assumes that fishers have no viable alternative to fishing, such that total fishing effort remains constant (at best). We find that realistic reserve networks, which protect 10%–30% of fished habitats in 1–20 km wide reserves, should benefit the long-term productivity of almost any complex fishery. We discover a “rule of thumb” to safeguard against the long-term catch depletion of particular species: individual reserves should export 30% or more of locally produced larvae to adjacent fishing grounds. Specifically on coral reefs, where fishers tend to overexploit species whose dispersal distances as larvae exceed the home ranges of adults, decisions on the size of reserves needed to meet the 30% larval export rule are unlikely to compromise the protection of resident adults. Even achieving the modest Aichi Target 11 of 10% “effective protection” can then help rebuild depleted catch. However, strictly protecting 20%–30% of fished habitats is unlikely to diminish catch even if overfishing is not yet a problem while providing greater potential for biodiversity conservation and fishery rebuilding if overfishing is substantial. These findings are important because they suggest that doubling or tripling the only globally enforced marine reserve target will benefit biodiversity conservation and higher fisheries productivity where both are most urgently needed.

Marine reserves are a commonly applied conservation tool, but their size is often chosen based on considerations of socioeconomic rather than ecological impact. Here, we use a simple individual-based model together with the latest empirical information on home ranges, densities and schooling behaviour in 66 coral reef fishes to quantify the conservation effectiveness of various reserve sizes. We find that standard reserves with a diameter of 1–2 km can achieve partial protection (≥50% of the maximum number of individuals) of 56% of all simulated species. Partial protection of the most important fishery species, and of species with diverse functional roles, required 2–10 km wide reserves. Full protection of nearly all simulated species required 100 km wide reserves. Linear regressions based on the mean home range and density, and even just the maximum length, of fish species approximated these results reliably, and can therefore be used to support locally effective decision making.

Developing and institutionalizing cross-sectoral approaches to sustainable land use remains a crucial, yet politically contested, objective in global sustainability governance. There is a widely acknowledged need for more integrated approaches to sustainable land use that reconcile multiple landscape functions, sectors and stakeholders. However, this faces a number of challenges in practice, including the lack of policy coherence and institutional conflicts across agricultural and forest sectors. In this context, the global climate change mitigation mechanism of “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” (REDD+) has been flagged as a unique opportunity to stimulate the development and institutionalization of more integrated, “landscape” approaches to sustainable land use. In this article, we provide a reality check for the prospects of REDD+ to deliver on this promise, through analyzing three pioneer cases of REDD+ development and implementation in Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico. We analyze how REDD+ has operated in each of these three contexts, based on field work, key-informant interviews, and analysis of primary and secondary documents. Our findings suggest that REDD+ has stimulated development of “niche” sustainable land-use investments in each case, which aim to integrate forest conservation and agricultural development goals, but has done so while competing with business-as-usual incentives. We conclude that national and international political commitment to more integrated and sustainable land-use approaches is a precondition for, rather than a result of, transformative REDD+ interventions.

The Nile crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Namibia, Botswana and Angola. The species was transferred from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II in 2004, although it is recognized as peripherally endangered in Namibia due to diminishing habitat availability primarily from human encroachment. In 2013, a species management plan was approved in Namibia to assess the management of the Namibian Nile crocodile populations. During 2012, an aerial survey was conducted to provide an estimate of Nile crocodile population numbers. A recently developed N-mixture model for estimation of abundance and spatial variation was used. Detection probability correlated to animal size and environmental covariates. Our data also suggest that small crocodiles are easier to detect during the spring. The abundance for different size classes was influenced by river complexity (vegetation, depth, channels) and the distribution of human settlements. An estimated 806 individuals were counted along the 352 km Namibian portion of the Kunene River system with a conservative estimate of 562 crocodiles regardless of size. The parameter estimates generated by the analysis suggested that the class-structured model can produce reliable estimates of total abundance and of local abundance for this section in the Kunene River system.

Inclusion of ecosystem services (ES) information into national-scale development and climate adaptation planning has yet to become common practice, despite demand from decision makers. Identifying where ES originate and to whom the benefits flow–under current and future climate conditions–is especially critical in rapidly developing countries, where the risk of ES loss is high. Here, using Myanmar as a case study, we assess where and how ecosystems provide key benefits to the country’s people and infrastructure. We model the supply of and demand for sediment retention, dry-season baseflows, flood risk reduction and coastal storm protection from multiple beneficiaries. We find that locations currently providing the greatest amount of services are likely to remain important under the range of climate conditions considered, demonstrating their importance in planning for climate resilience. Overlap between priority areas for ES provision and biodiversity conservation is higher than expected by chance overall, but the areas important for multiple ES are underrepresented in currently designated protected areas and Key Biodiversity Areas. Our results are contributing to development planning in Myanmar, and our approach could be extended to other contexts where there is demand for national-scale natural capital information to shape development plans and policies.

Temperate grasslands are a highly threatened global biome. Complicating management and conservation strategy development, modern grasslands can be difficult to characterize across landscapes since they range from native and semi-native to completely non-native species compositions such as those found in heavily managed pastures. Similar to methods used to differentiate C3 and C4 grasses, we investigate the ability of using temporal variations in growth characteristics as an alternative pathway to predicting native versus introduced species composition across grassland landscapes. To do this, we conducted an exploratory analysis using a time-series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index values as a measure of vegetation greenness with Landsat 5 TM imagery across a growing season and performed an unsupervised classification. Results from the classification were compared with field observation to determine if we can differentiate between native and introduced grassland types in the Northwest Glaciated Plains subecoregion of northeastern Montana. Our results indicated that we predicted grassland cover with 81% accuracy within our 200 km2 study area and 71% accuracy in our 5000 km2 secondary study area. Further extrapolation of our methodology, combined with the refinement of vegetation indices of time-series imagery, classification algorithms and the availability of data from planned Landsat and Sentinel missions, may provide the spatial detail necessary to improve grassland monitoring and rangeland management over large areas.

Increasing the size and number of marine protected areas (MPAs) is widely seen as a way to meet ambitious biodiversity and sustainable development goals. Yet, debate still exists on the effectiveness of MPAs in achieving ecological and societal objectives. Although the literature provides significant evidence of the ecological effects of MPAs within their boundaries, much remains to be learned about the ecological and social effects of MPAs on regional and seascape scales. Key to improving the effectiveness of MPAs, and ensuring that they achieve desired outcomes, will be better monitoring that includes ecological and social data collected inside and outside of MPAs. This can lead to more conclusive evidence about what is working, what is not, and why. Eight authors were asked to write about their experiences with MPA effectiveness. The authors were instructed to clearly define “effectiveness” and discuss the degree to which they felt MPAs had achieved or failed to be effective. Essays were exchanged among authors and each was invited to write a shorter “counterpoint.” The exercise shows that, while experiences are diverse, many authors found common ground regarding the role of MPAs in achieving conservation targets. This exchange of perspectives is intended to promote reflection, analysis, and dialogue as a means for improving MPA design, assessment, and integration with other conservation tools.

Improving water quality and other ecosystem services in agriculturally dominated watersheds is an important policy objective in many regions of the world. A major challenge is overcoming the associated costs to agricultural producers. We integrate spatially-explicit models of ecosystem processes with agricultural commodity production models to analyze the biophysical and economic consequences of alternative land use and land management patterns to achieve Total Maximum Daily Loads targets in a proto-typical agricultural watershed. We apply these models to find patterns that maximize water quality objectives for given levels of foregone agricultural profit. We find it is possible to reduce baseline watershed phosphorus loads by ~ 20% and sediment loads by ~ 18% without any reduction in agricultural profits. Our results indicate that meeting more stringent targets will result in substantial economic loss. However, when we add the social benefits from water quality improvement and carbon sequestration to private agricultural net returns we find that water quality improvements up to 50% can be obtained at no loss to societal returns. The cost of meeting water quality targets will vary over time as commodity and ecosystem service prices fluctuate. If crop prices drop or the value of ecosystem services increase, then achieving higher water quality goals will be less costly.

The Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus) is one of the most threatened mammals on Earth. The only remaining individuals live as part of a small population isolated in a single protected area, Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, Indonesia. Despite almost a century of studies, little is known about the factors that affect Javan rhino demography and distribution. National park officials require such information to identify conservation strategies and track the success and failures of these efforts; translocating selected individuals to establish a second population has been considered, but the risks must be weighed. We show that the 2013 global population of Javan rhinos was 62 individuals, which is likely near the site's carrying capacity. Our analysis of rhino distribution indicates that tsunamis are a significant risk to the species in Ujung Kulon, justifying the risks of establishing additional populations. Continued individual-based monitoring is needed to guide future translocation decisions.

To the Nakoda and Dakota people, bison are seen as a people, Tatanga/Tatanka Oyate, or Buffalo People. In 2012, the Fort Peck Tribes in Montana (Sioux and Assiniboine) had the opportunity to bring back a herd of heritage bison from Yellowstone National Park to Fort Peck reservation lands; in 2014, an additional herd was returned to reservation lands. Seeing this as an opportunity to connect and re-connect with their relations, Tatanga/Tatanka Oyate, and to educate the young people in their communities about the historic and cultural importance of buffalo, the Fort Peck Tribes embarked on a community initiative in conjunction with the return of the buffalo to reservation land. In this article, Roxann Smith, Robert McAnally, Lois Red Elk, Elizabeth Bird, Elizabeth Rink, Dennis Jorgensen, and Julia Haggerty, collaborators from three different institutions involved in this initiative, document the efforts to educate about and re-connect with the buffalo, as well as their own research inquiry process, which involved utilizing community-based participatory research methods to investigate four strands of inquiry, education, and service: the impact of buffalo restoration on the Fort Peck Tribes, the Buffalo People Summit (a community education and outreach event), an oral history project documenting the history of buffalo restoration in Fort Peck, and the Buffalo Values Survey, an effort to understand community perception and needs regarding the management of the buffalo herds and wildlife conservation. This initiative, involving a collaboration among the Fort Peck Tribes, Fort Peck Community College, Montana State University, and the World Wildlife Fund, is collectively known as the Fort Peck Buffalo Project.


Protected areas are a cornerstone strategy for terrestrial and increasingly marine biodiversity conservation, but their use for conserving inland waters has received comparatively scant attention. In 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) included a target of 17% protection for inland waters, yet there has been no meaningful way of measuring progress toward that target. Defining and evaluating ‘protection’ is especially complicated for rivers because their integrity is intimately linked to impacts in their upstream catchments. A new generation of global hydrographic data now enables a high-resolution, standardized assessment of how upland activities may be propagated downstream. Here we develop and apply, globally, a river protection metric that integrates both local and upstream catchment protection. We found that ‘integrated’ river protection is highly variable across geographies and river size classes and in most basins falls short of the 17% CBD target. Around the world about 70% of river reaches (by length) have no protected areas in their upstream catchments, and only 11.1% (by length) achieve full integrated protection. The average level of integrated protection is 13.5% globally, yet the majority of the world's largest basins show averages below 10%. Within basins, gaps are particularly severe for larger rivers.

Studies of heat shock response show a correlation with local climate, although this is more often across altitudinal than latitudinal gradients. In the present study, differences in constitutive but not inducible components of heat shock response are detected among populations of the Glanville fritillary butterfly Melitaea cinxia L. that exist at the species' latitudinal range limits (Finland and Spain). The study demonstrates that macroclimatic differences between these sites should cause greater exposure of the Spanish population to higher temperatures. Thermal stress treatments are used to estimate differences in the expression of four genes potentially relevant for tolerating these temperatures. For the analysis, three heat-shock proteins and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (G3PDH), a glycolysis enzyme that also modulates cell growth based on metabolic state, are chosen. Two constitutive differences are found between the sites. First, insects from Spain have higher levels of Hsp 21.4 than those from Finland regardless of thermal stress treatment; this protein is not inducible. Second, insects from Finland have higher levels of G3PDH. The two remaining Hsps, Hsp20.4 and Hsp90, show dramatic up-regulation at higher temperatures, although there are no significant differences between insects from the different populations in either constitutive levels or inducibility. In nature, differences between the study populations likely occur in the expression of all four genes that were studied, although these differences would be directly climate-induced in Hsp20.4 and Hsp90 and constitutive in Hsp21.4 and G3PDH. Inducibility may mitigate the need for constitutive variation in traits that adapt insects to local climate.

The swift fox (Vulpes velox) is a small grassland canid native to the North American Great Plains. A reintroduced swift fox population in Canada and northern Montana appears to be isolated from those existing in the central and southern Great Plains. We developed a swift fox habitat suitability model for southeastern Montana, the region between the 2 populations. The resulting model indicated that 67.9% of the study area consisted of highly suitable habitat. We conducted a least-cost path analysis to evaluate the connectivity of swift fox habitat in the study area to existing swift fox populations in the region. We identified a potential dispersal corridor through southeastern Montana that could facilitate movement between swift fox populations in northern Montana and northern Wyoming and identified 4 prairie dog complexes in Rosebud, Custer, and Powder River Counties, Montana, that could serve as potential swift fox reintroduction sites. Each site comprised several prairie dog colonies in close proximity and encompassed ? 95 km2. We evaluated the effect that swift fox populations established in each potential reintroduction site could have on population connectivity. Our results as well as future surveys could inform swift fox management and reintroduction programs in Montana.

Resource use was investigated at 34 Litopenaeus vannamei and five Penaeus monodon farms in Thailand and 30 L. vannamei and 24 P. monodon farms in Vietnam. Farms varied in water surface areas for production, reservoirs, canals, and settling basins; in pond size and depth; and in water management, stocking density, feeding rate, amendment input, aeration rate, crop duration, and crops per year. Production of L. vannamei averaged 17.3 and 10.9?m.t./ha/yr, and feed conversion ratio averaged 1.49 and 1.33 in Thailand and Vietnam, respectively. On average, production of 1?m.t. of L. vannamei required 0.58?ha land, 5,400?m3 water, 60?GJ energy, and 1218?kg wildfish in Thailand and 1.76?ha land, 15,100?m3 water, 33.7?GJ energy, and 1264?kg wildfish in Vietnam. Resource use per metric ton of shrimp declined with greater production intensity. In Thailand, P. monodon was produced at 0.2–0.4?m.t./ha/yr, with no inputs but water and postlarvae. In Vietnam, P. monodon production averaged 3.60?m.t./ha/yr. Production of 1?m.t. of P. monodon required 0.80?ha land, 36,000?m3 water, 47.8?GJ energy, and 1180?kg wildfish, and resource use per ton production declined with increasing production intensity.

Reducing gender inequality is a major policy concern worldwide, and one of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, our understanding of the magnitude and spatial distribution of gender inequality results either from limited-scale case studies or from national-level statistics. Here, we produce the first high resolution map of gender inequality by analyzing over 689,000 households in 47 countries. Across these countries, we find that male-headed households have, on average, 13% more asset wealth and 303% more land for agriculture than do female-headed households. However, this aggregate global result masks a high degree of spatial heterogeneity, with bands of both high inequality and high equality apparent in countries and regions of the world. Further, areas where inequality is highest when measured by land ownership generally are not the same areas that have high inequality as measured by asset wealth. Our metrics of gender inequality in land and wealth are not strongly correlated with existing metrics of poverty, development, and income inequality, and therefore provide new information to increase the understanding of one critical dimension of poverty across the globe.

Conversion of grassland to cropland has accelerated over the past decade due to high crop prices, government incentives and a growing global human population. Conversion of grasslands leads to loss of habitat and threatens the ability of the land to provide ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water filtration and reduced erosion. We developed a method for identifying remaining intact habitat across the Mississippi River Basin-Great Plains geography by stacking subsequent years of the Cropland Data Layer (United States) and Annual Crop Inventory (Canada). We call the resulting cumulative plowed lands the “plowprint”. The total size of the plowprint increased by 27,159,278 ha from 2009-2013. As of 2013, approximately one-third of the study area had been plowed. We conclude that developing the ability to monitor cumulative change over time will allow disparate agencies and organizations to align their goals, strategies and activities, and measure progress in a uniform way.

Land use and land use change are main drivers of biodiversity loss and degradation of a broad range of ecosystem services (MEA 2005). Despite substantial contributions to address land use impacts on biodiversity in LCA in the last decade (Schmidt 2008, de Baan et al. 2013a, Souza et al. 2013, Coelho and Michelsen 2014, LEAP 2015), including work coordinated by the UNEP SETAC Life Cycle Initiative (Milà i Canals et al. 2007; Koellner et al. 2013a; 2013b, Teixeira et al. 2016, Curran et al. 2016), no clear consensus exists on the use of a specific impact indicator. This lack of consensus not only limits the application of existing models, but also imposes constraints on the comparability of results of different studies evaluating land use impacts while applying different models. Therefore, the scope of this chapter is to give advice on defining a modeling approach and related indicator(s) adequately reflecting impacts of land use on biodiversity. The framework should be applicable on a local, regional, and global scale, and able to differentiate the diverse land use intensities as much as possible (Teixeira et al. 2016). Furthermore, it has to be linked with data availability in the life cycle inventory.

Delivering access to sufficient food, energy and water resources to ensure human wellbeing is a major concern for governments worldwide. However, it is crucial to account for the ‘nexus’ of interactions between these natural resources and the consequent implications for human wellbeing. The private sector has a critical role in driving positive change towards more sustainable nexus management and could reap considerable benefits from collaboration with researchers to devise solutions to some of the foremost sustainability challenges of today. Yet opportunities are missed because the private sector is rarely involved in the formulation of deliverable research priorities. We convened senior research scientists and influential business leaders to collaboratively identify the top forty questions that, if answered, would best help companies understand and manage their food-energy-water-environment nexus dependencies and impacts. Codification of the top order nexus themes highlighted research priorities around development of pragmatic yet credible tools that allow businesses to incorporate nexus interactions into their decision-making; demonstration of the business case for more sustainable nexus management; identification of the most effective levers for behaviour change; and understanding incentives or circumstances that allow individuals and businesses to take a leadership stance. Greater investment in the complex but productive relations between the private sector and research community will create deeper and more meaningful collaboration and cooperation.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011–2020), adopted at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, sets 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets to be met by 2020 to address biodiversity loss and ensure its sustainable and equitable use. Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 describes what an improved conservation network would look like for marine, terrestrial and inland water areas, including freshwater ecosystems. To date, there is no comprehensive assessment of what needs to be achieved to meet Target 11 for freshwater biodiversity. Reports on implementation often fail to consider explicitly freshwater ecosystem processes and habitats, the pressures upon them, and therefore the full range of requirements and actions needed to sustain them. Here the current progress and key gaps for meeting Aichi Target 11 are assessed by exploring the implications of each of its clauses for freshwater biodiversity. Concerted action on Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 for freshwater biodiversity by 2020 is required in a number of areas: a robust baseline is needed for each of the clauses described here at national and global scales; designation of new protected areas or expansion of existing protected areas to cover known areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a representative sample of biodiversity; use of Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (OECMs) in places where designating a protected area is not appropriate; and promoting and implementing better management strategies for fresh water in protected areas that consider its inherent connectivity, contextual vulnerability, and required human and technical capacity. Considering the specific requirements of freshwater systems through Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 has long-term value to the Sustainable Development Goals discussions and global conservation policy agenda into the coming decades.

Larval dispersal by ocean currents is a critical component of systematic marine protected area (MPA) design. However, there is a lack of quantitative methods to incorporate larval dispersal in support of increasingly diverse management objectives, including local population persistence under multiple types of threats (primarily focused on larval retention within and dispersal between protected locations) and benefits to unprotected populations and fisheries (primarily focused on larval export from protected locations to fishing grounds). Here, we present a flexible MPA design approach that can reconcile multiple such potentially conflicting management objectives by balancing various associated treatments of larval dispersal information. We demonstrate our approach based on alternative dispersal patterns, combinations of threats to populations, management objectives, and two different optimization strategies (site vs. network-based). Our outcomes highlight a consistently high efficiency in selecting priority locations that are self-replenishing, inter-connected, and/or important larval sources. We find that the opportunity to balance these three dispersal attributes flexibly can help not only to prevent meta-population collapse, but also to ensure effective fisheries recovery, with average increases in the number of recruits at fishing grounds at least two-times higher than achieved by standard habitat-based or ad-hoc MPA designs. Future applications of our MPA design approach should therefore be encouraged, specifically where management tools other than MPAs are not feasible.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) have historically been implemented and managed in a top-down way, excluding resource-dependent users from planning and management. In response to conflict and non-compliance, the governance of marine resources is increasingly embracing community-based approaches, assuming that by putting communities at the forefront of planning and management, participation will increase, causing positive social and ecological impacts. Given the relative newness of community-based MPAs, this study explores how resource users perceive their impacts on ecosystem services (ES) and human well-being (HWB). This study explores two community-based MPAs called tengefus in Kenya using mixed qualitative methods, including a participatory photography method called photovoice. Participation in and donor support for tengefus influences how resource users perceived tengefus and their impacts on ES and HWB. Individuals who were engaged in the tengefu from the inception or held official positions perceived more positive impacts on ES and HWB compared to those not as involved. Tengefus were often viewed by communities as attractors for external support and funding, positively influencing attitudes and feelings towards conservation. One site, the first tengefu in Kenya, had more external support and was surrounded by positive perceptions, while the other site had little external support and was surrounded by more conflict and mixed perceptions. This study exemplifies the complex social-political dynamics that MPAs create and are embedded within. Community-based MPA initiatives could benefit from ensuring widespread engagement throughout the inception, implementation and management, recognizing and managing expectations around donor support, and not assuming that benefits spillover throughout the community.

Global policy initiatives and international conservation organizations have sought to emphasize and strengthen the link between the conservation of natural ecosystems and human development. While many indices have been developed to measure various social outcomes to conservation interventions, the quantity and strength of evidence to support the effects, both positive and negative, of conservation on different dimensions of human well-being, remain unclear, dispersed and inconsistent.

Migrations of most animal taxa are declining as a result of anthropogenic pressures and land-use transformation. Here, we document and characterize a previously unknown multi-country migration of Burchell's zebra Equus quagga that is the longest of all recorded large mammal migrations in Africa. Our data from eight adult female zebras collared on the border of Namibia and Botswana show that in December 2012 all individuals crossed the Chobe River and moved due south to Nxai Pan National Park in Botswana, where they spent a mean duration of 10 weeks before returning, less directly, to their dry season floodplain habitat. The same southward movements were also observed in December 2013. Nxai Pan appeared to have similar environmental conditions to several possible alternative wet season destinations that were closer to the dry season habitat on the Chobe River, and water availability, but not habitat or vegetation biomass, was associated with higher-use areas along the migratory pathway. These results suggest a genetic and/or cultural basis for the choice of migration destination, rather than an environmental one. Regardless of the cause, the round-trip, straight-line migration distance of 500 km is greater than that covered by wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus during their well-known seasonal journey in the Serengeti ecosystem. It merits conservation attention, given the decline of large-scale ecological processes such as animal migrations.

Recent surveys suggest tens of thousands of elephants are being poached annually across Africa, putting the two species at risk across much of their range. Although the financial motivations for ivory poaching are clear, the economic benefits of elephant conservation are poorly understood. We use Bayesian statistical modelling of tourist visits to protected areas, to quantify the lost economic benefits that poached elephants would have delivered to African countries via tourism. Our results show these figures are substantial (~USD $25 million annually), and that the lost benefits exceed the anti-poaching costs necessary to stop elephant declines across the continent’s savannah areas, although not currently in the forests of central Africa. Furthermore, elephant conservation in savannah protected areas has net positive economic returns comparable to investments in sectors such as education and infrastructure. Even from a tourism perspective alone, increased elephant conservation is therefore a wise investment by governments in these regions.

Jacquet and Delon (2016) criticize our paper “Complementary Benefits of Tourism and Hunting to Communal Conservancies in Namibia” (Naidoo et al. 2015) and argue it is flawed in several respects, to which we respond.

The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulates what landowners, land managers, and industry can do on lands occupied by listed species. The ESA does this in part by requiring the designation of habitat within each listed species’ range considered critical to their recovery. Critics have argued that critical habitat (CH) designation creates significant economic costs while contributing little to species recovery. Here we examine the effects of CH designation on land cover change. We find that the rate of change from 1992 to 2011 in developed (urban and residential) and agricultural land in CH areas was not significantly different compared to similar lands without CH designation, but still subject to ESA regulations. Although CH designation on average does not affect overall rates of land cover change, CH designation did slightly modify the impact of land cover change drivers. Generally, variation in land prices played a larger role in land cover decisions within CH areas than in similar areas without CH designation. These trends suggest that developers may require a greater than typical expected return to development in CH areas to compensate for the higher risk of regulatory scrutiny. Ultimately, our results bring into question the very rationale for the CH regulation. If it is for the most part not affecting land cover choices, is CH helping species recover?

Policies aimed at reducing deforestation in the Amazon basin, such as ARPA and a robustly enforced Forest Code, could have a substantial influence on the basin’s future hydropower production potential, land-use based carbon emissions, and gross economic product. We use regional models to estimate the impact that high levels of forest conservation will have on the Basin’s provision of these ecosystem services and its overall economic performance as of 2050 relative to the Basin’s delivery of these services and economic performance from a much more developed 2050 landscape. We identify three major lessons learned from our research. First, the hydropower benefits of forest conservation policies, including protected areas, are distributed unevenly across the Amazon basin due to atmospheric feedbacks. Second, these policies also have a substantial influence on regional and global carbon emissions. Finally, policymakers need to be cognizant of the substantial economic opportunity costs that conservation policies can create and how the spatial mismatch of policy costs and benefits can lead to policy failure. For example, we find that the loss in basin gross product in 2050 due to more stringent forest conservation is likely to be greater than combined value of more hydropower potential and more carbon sequestration in 2050 due to more stringent forest conservation. For Brazilians specifically the calculus is even a bit worse as carbon sequestration is a global good that accrues to most people outside of Brazil. Of course our analysis is missing the many other valuable ecosystem services than are enhanced by conservation. We would need to add these additional ecosystem service values to our cost-benefit ledger before we could begin to ascribe the full conservation-economic tradeoffs to more stringent forest conservation.

Research about ecosystem services (ES) often aims to generate knowledge that influences policies and institutions for conservation and human development. However, we have limited understanding of how decision-makers use ES knowledge or what factors facilitate use. Here we address this gap and report on, to our knowledge, the first quantitative analysis of the factors and conditions that explain the policy impact of ES knowledge. We analyze a global sample of cases where similar ES knowledge was generated and applied to decision-making. We first test whether attributes of ES knowledge themselves predict different measures of impact on decisions. We find that legitimacy of knowledge is more often associated with impact than either the credibility or salience of the knowledge. We also examine whether predictor variables related to the science-to-policy process and the contextual conditions of a case are significant in predicting impact. Our findings indicate that, although many factors are important, attributes of the knowledge and aspects of the science-to-policy process that enhance legitimacy best explain the impact of ES science on decision-making. Our results are consistent with both theory and previous qualitative assessments in suggesting that the attributes and perceptions of scientific knowledge and process within which knowledge is coproduced are important determinants of whether that knowledge leads to action.

Recent studies have shown that fragmentation is an increasing threat to global forests, which has major impacts on biodiversity and the important ecosystem services provided by forested landscapes. Several tools have been developed to evaluate global patterns of fragmentation, which have potential applications for REDD+. We study how canopy height and above ground biomass (AGB) change across several categories of forest edges determined by fragmentation analysis. We use Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as an example.

An analysis of variance of different edge widths and airborne estimated canopy height found that canopy heights were significantly different in forest edges at a distance of 100 m from the nonforest edge. Biomass was significantly different between fragmentation classes at an edge distance of 300 m. Core forest types were found to have significantly higher canopy height and greater AGB than forest edges and patches, where height and biomass decrease significantly as the level of fragmentation increases. A change analysis shows that deforestation and degradation are increasing over time and biomass loss associated with degradation account for at least one quarter of total loss. We estimate that about 80 % of primary forests are intact, which decreases 3.5 % over the 15 year study period, as primary forest is either deforested or transitioned to forest edge. While the carbon loss per hectare is lower than that of deforestation, degradation potentially affects up to three times more area than deforestation alone. Conclusions

When defining forest degradation by decreased biomass without any loss in forest area, assessing transitions of core forest to edges over time can contribute an important element to REDD+MRV systems. The estimation of changes between different forest fragmentation types and their associated biomass loss can provide an estimate of degradation carbon emission factors. Forest degradation and emissions due to fragmentation are often underestimated and should comprise an essential component of MRV systems.

The ability of existing protected areas (PAs) to conserve freshwater species and ecosystems has been little investigated. In this study the freshwater conservation potential of PAs was evaluated based on their geospatial attributes and spatial relationship to threats. Specifically, the following questions were addressed: (a) to what extent, if any, do PA drainage network location and size affect the potential of PAs to conserve freshwater species and habitats within them?; (b) how are the factors that limit or promote conservation potential distributed in relation to PAs across a region?; and (c) what are the broader implications for how PAs can be designed and managed to contribute to freshwater conservation around the world? Eight factors that affect freshwater conservation potential for 297 PAs within the Tennessee and Cumberland River Basins (US) were analysed. Four of these attributes (connectivity, impervious surface area, agricultural land cover, and upstream storage) showed enough variation across PAs such that the effect of PA size, drainage network position, and their interaction on those attributes, was able to be modelled. The results support the hypothesis that PA drainage network location and size affect freshwater conservation potential of PAs. Both have a statistically significant effect on each of the four conservation potential attributes, either as a main effect, or through an interaction, although the direction of these relationships is not always intuitive. Of the factors that limit or promote conservation potential, PAs appear to be most often affected by land conversion to agriculture and a loss of connectivity. This study underscores the importance of PA managers understanding key internal and external threats so that they can take mitigating or minimizing action, and the need to define PA locations and boundaries within a larger basin context.

Increasingly frequent severe coral bleaching is among the greatest threats to coral reefs posed by climate change. Global climate models (GCMs) project great spatial variation in the timing of annual severe bleaching (ASB) conditions; a point at which reefs are certain to change and recovery will be limited. However, previous model-resolution projections (~1?×?1°) are too coarse to inform conservation planning. To meet the need for higher-resolution projections, we generated statistically downscaled projections (4-km resolution) for all coral reefs; these projections reveal high local-scale variation in ASB. Timing of ASB varies >10 years in 71 of the 87 countries and territories with >500?km2 of reef area. Emissions scenario RCP4.5 represents lower emissions mid-century than will eventuate if pledges made following the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) become reality. These pledges do little to provide reefs with more time to adapt and acclimate prior to severe bleaching conditions occurring annually. RCP4.5 adds 11 years to the global average ASB timing when compared to RCP8.5; however, >75% of reefs still experience ASB before 2070 under RCP4.5. Coral reef futures clearly vary greatly among and within countries, indicating the projections warrant consideration in most reef areas during conservation and management planning.

Mangroves are critical in the ecological, economic and social development of coastal rural and urban communities. However, they are under threat by climate change and anthropogenic activities. The Sunda Banda Seascape (SBS), Indonesia, is among the world’s richest regions of mangrove biomass and biodiversity. To inform current and future management strategies, it is critical to provide estimates of how mangroves will respond to climate change in this region. Therefore, this paper utilized spatial analysis with model-based climatic indicators (temperature and precipitation) and mangrove distribution maps to estimate a benchmark for the mangrove biomass of the SBS in six scenarios, namely the Last Inter-glacial Period, the current scenario (1950–2000) and all four projected Representative Concentration Pathways in 2070 due to climate change. Despite mangroves gaining more biomass with climate change (the increase in CO2 concentration), this paper highlighted the great proportion of below-ground biomass in mangrove forests. It also showed that the changes in spatial distribution of mangrove biomass became more variable in the context of climate change. As mangroves have been proposed as an essential component of climate change strategies, this study can serve as a baseline for future studies and resource management strategies.

The world's most biodiverse river basins—the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong—are experiencing an unprecedented boom in construction of hydropower dams. These projects address important energy needs, but advocates often overestimate economic benefits and underestimate far-reaching effects on biodiversity and critically important fisheries. Powerful new analytical tools and high-resolution environmental data can clarify trade-offs between engineering and environmental goals and can enable governments and funding institutions to compare alternative sites for dam building. Current site-specific assessment protocols largely ignore cumulative impacts on hydrology and ecosystem services as ever more dams are constructed within a watershed (1). To achieve true sustainability, assessments of new projects must go beyond local impacts by accounting for synergies with existing dams, as well as land cover changes and likely climatic shifts (2, 3). We call for more sophisticated and holistic hydropower planning, including validation of technologies intended to mitigate environmental impacts. Should anything less be required when tampering with the world's great river ecosystems?


Quasi-experimental impact evaluation approaches, which enable scholars to disentangle effects of conservation interventions from broader changes in the environment, are gaining momentum in the conservation sector. However, rigorous impact evaluation using statistical matching techniques to estimate the counterfactual have yet to be applied to marine protected areas (MPAs). While there are numerous studies investigating ‘impacts’ of MPAs that have generated considerable insights, results are variable. This variation has been linked to the biophysical and social context in which they are established, as well as attributes of management and governance. To inform decisions about MPA placement, design and implementation, we need to expand our understanding of conditions under which MPAs are likely to lead to positive outcomes by embracing advances in impact evaluation methodologies. Here, we describe the integration of impact evaluation within an MPA network monitoring programme in the Bird's Head Seascape, Indonesia. Specifically we (i) highlight the challenges of implementation ‘on the ground’ and in marine ecosystems and (ii) describe the transformation of an existing monitoring programme into a design appropriate for impact evaluation. This study offers one potential model for mainstreaming impact evaluation in the conservation sector.

How often do people visit the world’s protected areas (PAs)? Despite PAs covering one-eighth of the land and being a major focus of nature-based recreation and tourism, we don’t know. To address this, we compiled a globally-representative database of visits to PAs and built region-specific models predicting visit rates from PA size, local population size, remoteness, natural attractiveness, and national income. Applying these models to all but the very smallest of the world’s terrestrial PAs suggests that together they receive roughly 8 billion (8 x 109) visits/y—of which more than 80% are in Europe and North America. Linking our region-specific visit estimates to valuation studies indicates that these visits generate approximately US $600 billion/y in direct in-country expenditure and US $250 billion/y in consumer surplus. These figures dwarf current, typically inadequate spending on conserving PAs. Thus, even without considering the many other ecosystem services that PAs provide to people, our findings underscore calls for greatly increased investment in their conservation.

The Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11 mandates that 17% of terrestrial and 10% of marine environments be conserved in protected areas by 2020. Such simple numeric indicators act as motivators and a measure of progress. But striving to meet the stipulated coverage should not compromise the convention's broader goal of maximizing biodiversity.

Area coverage is the only element of Target 11 that is on track, at least on land (D. P. Tittensor et al. Science 346, 241–244; 2014). Other crucial elements are effective, equitable biodiversity management; ecological representation of a mix of ecosystems; and connectivity between sites to allow species dispersal. Some species and ecosystems may be lost if implementation of these elements is delayed much longer.

Focusing on area coverage alone risks creating perverse outcomes. It encourages the proliferation of large protected areas that are under little threat, and neglects areas where protection is most needed (see go.nature.com/o5ny9j and go.nature.com/hi6qn5). If not considered in the context of other elements of Target 11, maximizing the area under protection increases the financial and political cost of meeting the same biodiversity goals. As with other global policy goals (see S. Fukuda-Parr J. Hum. Dev. Capab. 15, 118–131; 2014), the abstract global target has created unintended consequences for national conservation planning.

With negotiations beginning in 2016 for the next tranche of the convention's targets, new incentives are needed to emphasize the pivotal additional elements of Target 11.

The recent report from the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity [(2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3] acknowledges that ongoing biodiversity loss necessitates swift, radical action. Protecting undisturbed lands, although vital, is clearly insufficient, and the key role of unprotected, private land owned is being increasingly recognized. Seeking to avoid common assumptions of a social planner backed by government interventions, the present work focuses on the incentives of the individual landowner. We use detailed data to show that successful conservation on private land depends on three factors: conservation effectiveness (impact on target species), private costs (especially reductions in production), and private benefits (the extent to which conservation activities provide compensation, for example, by enhancing the value of remaining production). By examining the high-profile issue of palm-oil production in a major tropical biodiversity hotspot, we show that the levels of both conservation effectiveness and private costs are inherently spatial; varying the location of conservation activities can radically change both their effectiveness and private cost implications. We also use an economic choice experiment to show that consumers' willingness to pay for conservation-grade palm-oil products has the potential to incentivize private producers sufficiently to engage in conservation activities, supporting vulnerable International Union for Conservation of Nature Red Listed species. However, these incentives vary according to the scale and efficiency of production and the extent to which conservation is targeted to optimize its cost-effectiveness. Our integrated, interdisciplinary approach shows how strategies to harness the power of the market can usefully complement existing—and to-date insufficient—approaches to conservation.

The growing base of information about ecosystem services generated by ecologists, economists, and other scientists could improve the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of commodity-sourcing standards being adopted by corporations to mitigate risk in their supply chains and achieve sustainability goals. This review examines various ways that information about ecosystem services could facilitate compliance with and auditing of commodity-sourcing standards. We also identify gaps in the current state of knowledge on the ecological effectiveness of sustainability standards and demonstrate how ecosystem-service information could complement existing monitoring efforts to build credible evidence. This paper is a call to the ecosystem-service scientists to engage in this decision context and tailor the information they are generating to the needs of the standards community, which we argue would offer greater efficiency of standards implementation for producers and enhanced effectiveness for standard scheme owners and corporations, and should thus lead to more sustainable outcomes for people and nature.

The central challenge of the 21st century is to develop economic, social, and governance systems capable of ending poverty and achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption while securing the life-support systems underpinning current and future human well-being. Essential to meeting this challenge is the incorporation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides into decision-making. We explore progress and crucial gaps at this frontier, reflecting upon the 10 y since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. We focus on three key dimensions of progress and ongoing challenges: raising awareness of the interdependence of ecosystems and human well-being, advancing the fundamental interdisciplinary science of ecosystem services, and implementing this science in decisions to restore natural capital and use it sustainably. Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an all-time high, the science of ecosystem services is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital is now common from governments to corporate boardrooms. However, successful implementation is still in early stages. We explore why ecosystem service information has yet to fundamentally change decision-making and suggest a path forward that emphasizes: (i) developing solid evidence linking decisions to impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services, and then to human well-being; (ii) working closely with leaders in government, business, and civil society to develop the knowledge, tools, and practices necessary to integrate natural capital and ecosystem services into everyday decision-making; and (iii) reforming institutions to change policy and practices to better align private short-term goals with societal long-term goals.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly employed worldwide to conserve marine resources. However, information on the role of governance mechanisms, in particular those associated with compliance, in shaping ecological condition inside MPAs at the regional scale remains deficient. An exploratory data analysis was conducted to evaluate links between strategies used to promote compliance with MPA regulations (e.g. incentives and penalties) and indicators of ecological condition, including biomass and density of commercial fish species, fish functional groups and coral cover in 21 MPAs across 13 different countries and territories in the greater Caribbean region. The strategies used to promote compliance with MPA regulations were correlated with indicators of ecological condition. For example, MPAs in which a larger number of incentives and penalties are present in the governance system are associated with higher commercial fish biomass and density as compared to those with fewer penalties and incentives available to promote compliance. Although most MPAs in the greater Caribbean use penalties to enforce compliance, these results suggest incentives may also be an important governance strategy for ensuring efficacy of protected areas in conserving key species. Alternatively, the presence of a high number of penalties and incentives in governance systems may also be indicative of greater state capacity and political will in these MPAs resulting in better managed MPAs. Further research is necessary to evaluate results of the exploratory data analysis presented in this study with a more in depth analysis of the de facto use of the regulations evaluated and their efficacy. Multi-country comparisons of MPA governance and ecological indicators can help policy and decision makers maintain MPAs that most effectively achieve MPA conservation objectives.

Ecological resilience assessments are an important part of resilience-based management (RBM) and can help prioritize and target management actions. Use of such assessments has been limited due to a lack of clear guidance on the assessment process. This study builds on the latest scientific advances in RBM to provide that guidance from a resilience assessment undertaken in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). We assessed spatial variation in ecological resilience potential at 78 forereef sites near the populated islands of the CNMI: Saipan, Tinian/Aguijan, and Rota. The assessments are based on measuring indicators of resilience processes and are combined with information on anthropogenic stress and larval connectivity. We find great spatial variation in relative resilience potential with many high resilience sites near Saipan (5 of 7) and low resilience sites near Rota (7 of 9). Criteria were developed to identify priority sites for six types of management actions (e.g., conservation, land-based sources of pollution reduction, and fishery management and enforcement) and 51 of the 78 sites met at least one of the sets of criteria. The connectivity simulations developed indicate that Tinian and Aguijan are each roughly 10 × the larvae source that Rota is and twice as frequent a destination. These results may explain the lower relative resilience potential of Rota reefs and indicates that actions in Saipan and Tinian/Aguijan will be important to maintaining supply of larvae. The process we describe for undertaking resilience assessments can be tailored for use in coral reef areas globally and applied to other ecosystems.

Sustainability standards and certification serve to differentiate and provide market recognition to goods produced in accordance with social and environmental good practices, typically including practices to protect biodiversity. Such standards have seen rapid growth, including in tropical agricultural commodities such as cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans, and tea. Given the role of sustainability standards in influencing land use in hotspots of biodiversity, deforestation, and agricultural intensification, much could be gained from efforts to evaluate and increase the conservation payoff of these schemes. To this end, we devised a systematic approach for monitoring and evaluating the conservation impacts of agricultural sustainability standards and for using the resulting evidence to improve the effectiveness of such standards over time. The approach is oriented around a set of hypotheses and corresponding research questions about how sustainability standards are predicted to deliver conservation benefits. These questions are addressed through data from multiple sources, including basic common information from certification audits; field monitoring of environmental outcomes at a sample of certified sites; and rigorous impact assessment research based on experimental or quasi-experimental methods. Integration of these sources can generate time-series data that are comparable across sites and regions and provide detailed portraits of the effects of sustainability standards. To implement this approach, we propose new collaborations between the conservation research community and the sustainability standards community to develop common indicators and monitoring protocols, foster data sharing and synthesis, and link research and practice more effectively. As the role of sustainability standards in tropical land-use governance continues to evolve, robust evidence on the factors contributing to effectiveness can help to ensure that such standards are designed and implemented to maximize benefits for biodiversity conservation.

Tourism and hunting both generate substantial revenues for communities and private operators in Africa, but few studies have quantitatively examined the trade-offs and synergies that may result from these two activities. We evaluated financial and in-kind benefit streams from tourism and hunting on 77 communal conservancies in Namibia from 1998 to 2013, where community-based wildlife conservation has been promoted as a land-use that complements traditional subsistence agriculture. We used data collected annually for all communal conservancies to characterize whether benefits were derived from hunting or tourism. We classified these benefits into 3 broad classes and examined how benefits flowed to stakeholders within communities under the status quo and under a simulated ban on hunting. Across all conservancies, total benefits from hunting and tourism increased at roughly the same rate, although conservancies typically started generating benefits from hunting within 3 years of formation as opposed to after 6 years for tourism. Disaggregation of data revealed that the main benefits from hunting were income for conservancy management and food in the form of meat for the community at large. The majority of tourism benefits were salaried jobs at lodges. A simulated ban on trophy hunting significantly reduced the number of conservancies that could cover their operating costs, whereas eliminating income from tourism did not have as severe an effect. Given that the benefits generated from hunting and tourism typically begin at different times in a conservancy's life-span (earlier vs. later, respectively) and flow to different segments of local communities, these 2 activities together may provide the greatest incentives for conservation on communal lands in Namibia. A singular focus on either hunting or tourism would reduce the value of wildlife as a competitive land-use option and have grave repercussions for the viability of community-based conservation efforts in Namibia, and possibly other parts of Africa.

The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulates what landowners and land managers can do on lands occupied by listed species. The act does this in part through the designation of habitat areas considered critical to the recovery of listed species. Critics have argued that the designation of critical habitat (CH) has substantial economic impacts on landowners above and beyond the costs associated with listing in general. Here we examine the effects of CH designation on land cover change from 1992 to 2011 in areas subject to ESA regulations. We find that, on average, the rate of change in developed land (urban and residential) and agricultural land is not significantly affected by CH designation. In addition, our estimate of the effects of CH designation is not strongly correlated with the costs of CH as predicted by economic analyses published in the Federal Register. While CH designation, on average, does not affect the overall rates of land cover change, CH designation does appear to modify the impact of land cover change drivers. Generally, land prices had more impact (statistically) on land cover decisions within CH areas than in areas subject to ESA regulations but with no CH designation. Land cover decisions in these latter areas tended to be driven more by clustering and land availability concerns. These trends suggest that CH designation has increased landowner uncertainty and that conversion to developed and agricultural use in CH areas, on average, requires a return premium. Overall, however, this different reaction to land prices in and outside of CH areas has not been strong enough to differentiate the average rates of developed or agricultural land change in CH areas versus areas subject to ESA regulations but with no CH designation.

Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) is a major global strategy for enhancing conservation outcomes while also seeking to improve rural livelihoods; however, little evidence of socioeconomic outcomes exists. We present a national-level analysis that empirically estimates socioeconomic impacts of CBNRM across Tanzania, while systematically controlling for potential sources of bias. Specifically, we apply a difference-in-differences model to national-scale, cross-sectional data to estimate the impact of three different CBNRM governance regimes on wealth, food security and child health, considering differential impacts of CBNRM on wealthy and poor populations. We also explore whether or not longer-standing CBNRM efforts provide more benefits than recently-established CBNRM areas. Our results show significant improvements in household food security in CBNRM areas compared with non-CBNRM areas, but household wealth and health outcomes in children are generally not significantly different. No one CBNRM governance regime demonstrates consistently different welfare outcomes than the others. Wealthy households benefit more from CBNRM than poor households and CBNRM benefits appear to increase with longer periods of implementation. Perhaps evidence of CBNRM benefits is limited because CBNRM hasn’t been around long enough to yield demonstrable outcomes. Nonetheless, achieving demonstrable benefits to rural populations will be crucial for CBNRM’s future success in Tanzania.

Inclusive wealth is a measure designed to address whether society is on a sustainable development trajectory. Inclusive wealth is defined as the aggregate value of all capital assets. Increases in inclusive wealth indicate an improved productive base capable of supporting a higher standard of living in the future. To be truly inclusive, measures of inclusive wealth must include the value of all forms of capital that contribute to human well-being: human capital, manufactured capital, natural capital, and social capital. Sustainability concerns have increased attention on the ways of measuring the value of natural capital. We review various attempts to measure natural capital and to incorporate these into inclusive wealth including estimates using national wealth accounts and integrated ecological and economic models used to estimate ecosystem services. Empirically measuring the value of various types of capital in terms of a common metric is hugely challenging, and no current attempt to date can be said to be fully inclusive. Despite the empirical challenges, inclusive wealth provides a clear, coherent, and systematic framework for addressing sustainable development. Combining measures of semi-inclusive wealth that capture forms of capital that can be relatively easily measured in monetary terms with a set of biophysical metrics capturing important aspects of natural capital that are difficult to measure in monetary terms may provide a good set of signals of whether society is proceeding along a sustainable development trajectory.

Biodiversity conservation, as an environmental goal, is increasingly recognized to be connected to the socioeconomic well-being of local communities. The development of a widespread community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) program in Namibia makes it an ideal location to analyze the connection between conservation and socioeconomic well-being of local communities. Namibia’s CBNRM program involves the formation of communal conservancies within rural communities and previous studies have found it to be successful on both ecological and economic fronts. In order to broaden the understanding of the program’s impact to include social factors, we have conducted a comparative analysis to determine the effects of this program on household welfare outcomes. Data from two rounds of the Namibia Demographic and Health Surveys (2000 and 2006/07) and quasi-experimental statistical methods were used to evaluate changes in various health, education and wealth outcomes of those living in conservancies, relative to non-conservancy comparison groups. Regression results indicate mixed effects of the conservancy program at the household level. The program had positive effects on some health outcome variables, including bednet ownership, which was twice as likely to increase over time in conservancy compared to non-conservancy households. Program impacts were negative for education outcomes, with the proportion of school attendance of conservancy children being 45% less likely to increase over time than non-conservancy children. Wealth outcome results were inconclusive. Our findings highlight the importance of analyzing community conservation programs at a variety of scales when evaluating overall impact, as community-level benefits may not necessarily extend down to the household level (and vice versa).

Ecosystem Service Assessments (ESAs) have become a popular tool for science-based policy. Yet, there are few guidelines for developing an ESA to inform a decision-making process. This is an important area of inquiry since the process of conducting an ESA is likely to affect the quality of results and their influence on decisions. Drawing on the lessons of conducting ESAs around the world, we propose a set of enabling conditions and a framework for carrying out ESAs that foster high-quality results and drive action. Our framework includes an emphasis on iterative stakeholder engagement, advancing science to address policy needs, and capacity-building through six general steps: (1) scope the process, (2) collect and compile data, (3) develop scenarios, (4) analyze ecosystem services, (5) synthesize results, and (6) communicate knowledge. Our experience indicates that using this framework to conduct an ESA can generate policy-relevant science and enhance uptake of information about nature’s benefits in decisions.

While there have been rapid advances in assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES), a critical remaining challenge is how to move from scientific knowledge to real-world decision making. We offer 6 lessons from our experiences applying new approaches and tools for quantifying BES in 20 pilot demonstrations: (1) Applying a BES approach is most effective in leading to policy change as part of an iterative science-policy process; (2) simple ecological production function models have been useful in a diverse set of decision contexts, across a broad range of biophysical, social, and governance systems. Key limitations of simple models arise at very small scales, and in predicting specific future BES values; (3) training local experts in the approaches and tools is important for building local capacity, ownership, trust, and long-term success; (4) decision makers and stakeholders prefer to use a variety of BES value metrics, not only monetary values; (5) an important science gap exists in linking changes in BES to changes in livelihoods, health, cultural values, and other metrics of human wellbeing; and (6) communicating uncertainty in useful and transparent ways remains challenging.

The Sunda Banda Seascape (SBS), located in the center of the Coral Triangle, is a global center of marine biodiversity and a conservation priority. We proposed the first biophysical environmental delineation of the SBS using globally available satellite remote sensing and model-assimilated data to categorize this area into unique and meaningful biophysical classes. Specifically, the SBS was partitioned into eight biophysical classes characterized by similar sea surface temperature, chlorophyll a concentration, currents, and salinity patterns. Areas within each class were expected to have similar habitat types and ecosystem functions. Our work supplemented prevailing global marine management schemes by focusing in on a regional scale with finer spatial resolution. It also provided a baseline for academic research, ecological assessments and will facilitate marine spatial planning and conservation activities in the area. In addition, the framework and methods of delineating biophysical environments we presented can be expanded throughout the whole Coral Triangle to support research and conservation activities in this important region.


To implement the REDD+ mechanism (Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation, countries need to prioritize areas to combat future deforestation CO2 emissions, identify the drivers of deforestation around which to develop mitigation actions, and quantify and value carbon for financial mechanisms. Each comes with its own methodological challenges, and existing approaches and tools to do so can be costly to implement or require considerable technical knowledge and skill. Here, we present an approach utilizing a machine learning technique known as Maximum Entropy Modeling (Maxent) to identify areas at high deforestation risk in the study area in Madre de Dios, Peru under a business-as-usual scenario in which historic deforestation rates continue. We link deforestation risk area to carbon density values to estimate future carbon emissions. We quantified area deforested and carbon emissions between 2000 and 2009 as the basis of the scenario.

Ecosystem services have clear promise to help identify and protect priority areas for biodiversity. To leverage them effectively, practitioners must conduct timely analyses at appropriate scales, often with limited data. Here we use simple spatial analyses on readily available datasets to compare the distribution of five ecosystem services with tiger habitat in central Sumatra. We assessed services and habitat in 2008 and the changes in these variables under two future scenarios: a conservation-friendly Green Vision, and a Spatial Plan developed by the Indonesian government. In 2008, the range of tiger habitat overlapped substantially with areas of high carbon storage and sediment retention, but less with areas of high water yield and nutrient retention. Depending on service, location and spatial grain of analysis, there were both gains and losses from 2008 to each scenario; however, aggregate provision of each ecosystem service (except water yield) and total area of tiger habitat were higher in the Vision than the Plan, likely driven by an increase in forest cover in the Vision. Sub-watersheds with high levels of several ecosystem services contained substantially more tiger habitat than random subsets of sub-watersheds, suggesting that prioritizing ecosystem services could benefit tiger conservation. Our analyses provided input to government-led spatial planning and strategic environmental assessments in the study area, indicating that even under time and data constraints, policy-relevant assessments of multiple ecosystem services are feasible.

Biodiversity continues to decline in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressures such as habitat destruction, exploitation, pollution and introduction of alien species. Existing global databases of species’ threat status or population time series are dominated by charismatic species. The collation of datasets with broad taxonomic and biogeographic extents, and that support computation of a range of biodiversity indicators, is necessary to enable better understanding of historical declines and to project – and avert – future declines. We describe and assess a new database of more than 1.6 million samples from 78 countries representing over 28,000 species, collated from existing spatial comparisons of local-scale biodiversity exposed to different intensities and types of anthropogenic pressures, from terrestrial sites around the world. The database contains measurements taken in 208 (of 814) ecoregions, 13 (of 14) biomes, 25 (of 35) biodiversity hotspots and 16 (of 17) megadiverse countries. The database contains more than 1% of the total number of all species described, and more than 1% of the described species within many taxonomic groups – including flowering plants, gymnosperms, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, beetles, lepidopterans and hymenopterans. The dataset, which is still being added to, is therefore already considerably larger and more representative than those used by previous quantitative models of biodiversity trends and responses. The database is being assembled as part of the PREDICTS project (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems – www.predicts.org.uk). We make site-level summary data available alongside this article. The full database will be publicly available in 2015.

Providing food, timber, energy, housing, and other goods and services, while maintaining ecosystem functions and biodiversity that underpin their sustainable supply, is one of the great challenges of our time. Understanding the drivers of land-use change and how policies can alter land-use change will be critical to meeting this challenge. Here we project land-use change in the contiguous United States to 2051 under two plausible baseline trajectories of economic conditions to illustrate how differences in underlying market forces can have large impacts on land-use with cascading effects on ecosystem services and wildlife habitat. We project a large increase in croplands (28.2 million ha) under a scenario with high crop demand mirroring conditions starting in 2007, compared with a loss of cropland (11.2 million ha) mirroring conditions in the 1990s. Projected land-use changes result in increases in carbon storage, timber production, food production from increased yields, and >10% decreases in habitat for 25% of modeled species. We also analyze policy alternatives designed to encourage forest cover and natural landscapes and reduce urban expansion. Although these policy scenarios modify baseline land-use patterns, they do not reverse powerful underlying trends. Policy interventions need to be aggressive to significantly alter underlying land-use change trends and shift the trajectory of ecosystem service provision.

Commonalities and complementarities among approaches to conservation monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are not well articulated, creating the potential for confusion, misuse, and missed opportunities to inform conservation policy and practice. We examine the relationships among five approaches to conservation M&E, characterizing each approach in eight domains: the focal question driving each approach, when in the project cycle each approach is employed, scale of data collection, the methods of data collection and analysis, the implementers of data collection and analysis, the users of M&E outputs, and the decisions informed by these outputs. Ambient monitoring measures status and change in ambient social and ecological conditions, independent of any conservation intervention. Management assessment measures management inputs, activities, and outputs, as the basis for investments to build management capacity for conservation projects. Performance measurement assesses project or program progress toward desired levels of specific activities, outputs, and outcomes. Impact evaluation is the systematic process of measuring the intended and unintended causal effects of conservation interventions, with emphasis upon long-term impacts on ecological and social conditions. Systematic review examines existing research findings to assess the state of the evidence regarding the impacts of conservation interventions, and to synthesize the insights emerging from this evidence base. Though these five approaches have some commonalities, they complement each other to provide unique insights for conservation planning, capacity-building, adaptive management, learning, and accountability. Ambient monitoring, management assessment, and performance measurement are now commonplace in conservation, but opportunities remain to inform conservation policy and practice more fully through catalytic investments in impact evaluations and systematic reviews.

The limited understanding of how ecosystem service knowledge (ESK) is used in decision making constrains our ability to learn from, replicate, and convey success stories. We explore use of ESK in decision making in three international cases: national coastal planning in Belize; regional marine spatial planning on Vancouver Island, Canada; and regional land-use planning on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Decision makers, scientists, and stakeholders collaborated in each case to use a standardized ecosystem service accounting tool to inform spatial planning. We evaluate interview, survey, and observation data to assess evidence of ‘conceptual’, ‘strategic’, and ‘instrumental’ use of ESK. We find evidence of all modes: conceptual use dominates early planning, while strategic and instrumental uses occur iteratively in middle and late stages. Conceptual and strategic uses of ESK build understanding and compromise that facilitate instrumental use. We highlight attributes of ESK, characteristics of the process, and general conditions that appear to affect how knowledge is used. Meaningful participation, scenario development, and integration of local and traditional knowledge emerge as important for particular uses.

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