Biodiversity is dwindling at a rapid pace across the globe. As one key remedy, we are protecting areas around the world, hoping that they will suffice to save what is left. While protected areas have undoubtedly contributed to slowing the overall biodiversity loss, it is unclear how well they work across multiple species concurrently. To explore this, researchers at the University of Helsinki examined changes in the occurrence of hundreds of species within and outside of protected areas.
Researchers found mixed effects, highlighting that protected areas do not fully meet the expectations set for them. Rather than reversing the trend in biodiversity loss, current protected areas will, at best, help decelerate the species decline rate. What they thus currently offer is more time to act on the root causes of biodiversity loss. Their work was published in Nature Communications.