Rates of tree cover loss in Key Biodiversity Areas on Indigenous Peoples’ lands

Ashley Thomas Simkins, Paul F. Donald, Alison E. Beresford, Stuart H.M. Butchart, Julia E. Fa, Alvaro Onrubia Fernández-Llamazares, Stephen T. Garnett, Graeme M. Buchanan

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Abstract

Indigenous Peoples’ lands (IPL) cover at least 38 million km2 (28.1%) of Earth's terrestrial surface. These lands can be important for biodiversity conservation. Around 20.7% of IPL intersect areas protected by government (PAs). Many sites of importance for biodiversity within IPL could make a substantial but hitherto unquantified contribution to global site-based conservation targets. Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) represent the largest global network of systematically identified sites of high importance for biodiversity. We assessed the effectiveness of IPL in slowing biodiversity loss inside and outside PAs by quantifying tree cover loss from 2000 to 2019 in KBAs at international and national levels and comparing it with losses at equivalent sites outside mapped IPL. Based on a matched sample of 1-km2 cells in KBAs inside and outside mapped IPL, tree cover loss in KBAs outside PAs was lower inside IPL than outside IPL. By contrast, tree cover loss in KBAs inside PAs was lower outside IPL than inside IPL (although the difference was far smaller). National rates of tree cover loss in KBAs varied greatly in relation to their IPL and PA status. In one half of the 44 countries we examined individually, there was no significant difference in the rate of tree cover loss in KBAs inside and outside mapped IPL. The reasons for this intercountry variation could illuminate the importance of IPL in meeting the Convention on Biological Diversity's ambition of conserving 30% of land by 2030. Critical to this will be coordinated action by governments to strengthen and enforce Indigenous Peoples’ rights, secure their collective systems of tenure and governance, and recognize their aspirations for their lands and futures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14195
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Volume38
Issue number3
Early online date9 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024

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