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Synergies and trade-offs in achieving global biodiversity targets

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Following their failure to achieve a significant reduction in the global rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, world governments adopted 20 new ambitious Aichi biodiversity targets to be met by 2020.There is growing recognition that efforts to achieve one particular biodiversity target can contribute to achieving others, yet little attention is given to the fact that targets may require conflicting solutions. Consequently, there is a risk that lack of strategic thinking might result, once again, in a failure to achieve governmental conservation commitments. This article illustrates the dilemma by focusing on Aichi Target 11. This requires an expansion of terrestrial protected area coverage, which could also contribute to reducing the loss of natural habitats (Target 5), reducing human-induced species decline (Target 12), and maintaining global carbon stocks (Target 15). The authors consider the potential impact of expanding protected areas to mitigate global deforestation and the consequences for the distribution of suitable habitat for >10000 species of forest vertebrates. They found that expanding protected areas toward locations with the highest deforestation rates (Target 5) or the highest potential loss of aggregate species' suitable habitat (Target 12) would result in partially different protected area network configurations. Moreover, the latter approach would contribute to safeguarding ca. 30% more global carbon stocks than the former. Further investigation of synergies and trade-offs between targets would shed light on these and other complex interactions, such as the interaction between reducing overexploitation of natural resources (Targets 6, 7), controlling invasive alien species (Target 9) and preventing extinctions of native species (Target 12). Synergies between targets must be identified and secured soon and trade-offs must be minimized, before the options for co-benefits are reduced by human pressures.

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