Land and Biodiversity

Land use change is the foremost direct cause of biodiversity loss with the largest relative global impact.

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Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 per cent of the global land surface, and up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss.

Land and Biodiversity

Degradation of soil and its biodiversity
Global Land Outlook: Degradation of soil and its biodiversity

Three-quarters of the land-based environment has been significantly altered by human actions. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20 per cent, mostly since 1900. Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 per cent of the global land surface, and up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss. 

Land use change is the foremost direct cause of biodiversity loss with the largest relative global impact. As habitat loss is the primary driver of species extinction around the world, conserving, restoring and sustainably managing habitats and ecosystems is recognized as the most effective way to protect existing target species. 

New tools are becoming available such as “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) which refer to “a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in-situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values.”

IPBES land degradation and restoration report p. 19
IPBES land degradation and restoration report 

Area-based targets are extremely effective in focusing the attention of policy- and decision-makers on discrete, time-bound objectives that are well understood, actionable and easily incorporated into planning processes at various levels. In most cases, human needs and aspirations must be fully considered for area-based biodiversity targets to be formulated and successfully implemented at the scale required.

There is great potential for cost-effective synergies between the Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets and post-2020 biodiversity targets in terms of design, implementation, financing and monitoring. The UN General Assembly has recognized that LDN can act as an accelerator to achieve multiple SDGs, including poverty reduction, food and water security, climate adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and the enhanced resilience of communities and ecosystems.  

Guided by an integrated landscape approach, LDN measures address many objectives contained in Aichi Biodiversity Targets 5, 7, 11, 14 and 15. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) will be another important vehicle for accelerating the implementation of existing and the launching of new restoration targets that could be closely aligned with post-2020 biodiversity targets.

A UNCCD COP14 decision “Invites Parties, that have committed to voluntary land degradation neutrality targets, to implement measures to accelerate their achievement by fostering synergies among the Rio conventions and other multilateral environmental agreements, including the consideration of joint programming activities at the national and sub-national level.”  

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