PerspectiveConservation

A boost for freshwater conservation

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Science  02 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6512, pp. 38-39
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe3887

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Summary

Systematic conservation planning—a data-driven process for prioritizing biodiversity conservation resources—has been strongly biased over the past two decades toward terrestrial and marine species and systems (1). Freshwater ecosystems, which are among the most threatened on Earth, have received less attention. Wetland extent is estimated to have declined globally by nearly 70% since 1900 and, on average, freshwater vertebrate populations declined by 84% between 1970 and 2016 (2). There is an urgent need for prioritizing resources toward freshwater conservation. On page 117 of this issue, Leal et al. (3) show that such prioritizations need not be a zero-sum game: Integrated cross-realm conservation planning can, for a negligible reduction in terrestrial benefits, increase freshwater benefits up to 600%.

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