PerspectiveConservation

Seeing the forest through the trees

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Science  27 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6323, pp. 347-349
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal5120

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Summary

Recognizing the importance of biodiversity to human well-being, most nations have committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. However, the pressures on biodiversity are increasing, and its status is declining globally (1), raising concerns that national plans and targets are not ambitious enough (2) and showing that new solutions are needed (3). Recognition of synergies among different targets and goals (4) has brought forest to the forefront of national land-use decision-making, which must balance multiple objectives that all demand land (5). Efforts to support decision-making on forests have focused on individual (typically vertebrate) species and on carbon and other ecosystem services. Highly resolved views of functional trait variation in tropical forests reported by Asner et al. on page 385 of this issue (6) may provide a further basis for making such decisions.