Plant Diversity ›› 2020, Vol. 42 ›› Issue (04): 211-220.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2020.06.002

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Maintaining biodiversity will define our long-term success

Peter Ravena, Mathis Wackernagelb   

  1. a Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA;
    b Global Footprint Network, 1528 Webster Street, Suite 11, Oakland, CA, 94612, USA
  • Received:2020-02-14 Revised:2020-06-01 Online:2020-08-25 Published:2020-10-14
  • Contact: Peter Raven, Mathis Wackernagel

Abstract: Human beings are not only a part of our planet's ecosystems, but also, they are massively overusing them. This makes ecosystem protection, including biodiversity preservation, vital for humanity's future. The speed and scale of the threat are unprecedented in human history. The long arch of evolution has been confronted with such a high level of human impact, that we are now facing the sixth mass extinction event, 66 million years after the last one. This threat heightens the imperative for bold human intervention. Our paper identifies three strategies for such an intervention. First, and possibly most challenging, human demand needs to be curbed so it fits within the bounds of what Earth's ecosystems can renew. Without meeting this quantitative goal, biodiversity preservation efforts will not be able to get scaled. Second, in the transition time, we must focus on those locations and areas where most biodiversity is concentrated. Such a focus on ‘hotspots' will help safeguard the largest portion of biodiversity with least effort. Third, to direct biodiversity preservation strategies, we need to much better document the existence and distribution of biodiversity around the globe. New information technologies could help with this critical effort. In conclusion, biodiversity preservation is no longer just a concern for specialized biologist but is becoming a societal necessity if humanity wants to have a stable future.

Key words: Biodiversity, Hotspots, Biocapacity, Conservation strategy