Protecting habitats can save 1,000 wildlife species

If 30% of the world’s forests and land areas can be saved, about 1,000 species of animals living in unprotected habitats could escape extinction’s grip, according to scientists in Singapore and the United States.

One of them is the short-crested coquette, a tiny and vibrant-coloured hummingbird native to a small area in Mexico.

The 7cm-long hummingbird is known to reside around only a 25km stretch of road in southern Mexico, and its forest habitat has been rapidly lost to maize, fruit and coffee plantations.

With between 250 and 999 mature coquettes left in the wild, the species is classified as critically endangered.

And if a third of the earth’s forests, mangroves and peatlands is preserved, about 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions can be avoided or sequestered a year, said the study. That is a quarter of the estimated global CO2 emissions from human activity in 2022.

But how much extra land area would need to be protected to achieve the 30% goal? An estimated 2.7 billion hectares, or the combined area of China and Russia.

The findings were derived by the Singapore and US conservation scientists using satellite images and statistics to model the benefits of doubling the amount of protected land areas by 2030.

Ocean and marine protection was not covered by the study led by the National University of Singapore Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions (CNCS).

Currently, almost 17% of the planet’s land area is protected from degradation and deforestation, according to Protected Planet, an online database on conserved areas around the world.

On Dec 7, negotiations on a global target to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030 will begin at the United Nations’ COP15 biodiversity conference in Montreal.As of June, more than 100 countries – including the US, Timor Leste and Estonia – have joined a coalition called the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, to support the 30% goal. — The Strait Times/ANN

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