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Biodiversity

Theme: BIODIVERSITY Issue: Species loss and protection

Indicator: Ratio of area protected to maintain biological diversity to surface area MDG indicator no.

26 under Target 9, Goal 7

There are now over 117 000 protected areas worldwide, taking into account both those classified under any of the six IUCN management categories I to VI (see below), and those not classified. This amounts to 15 per cent of the total territorial surface of the Earth, when including all land area and territorial sea area up to the 12 nautical miles limit. At the global level, 17 per cent of the protected areas are currently not classified under the IUCN scheme.

Several regions have a significant proportion of non-IUCN classified protected areas, most notably Latin America and the Caribbean. The overall trend in the total surface of protected areas has been steadily upward during the last decades in all regions of the world, but has been levelling off somewhat since 2000. The sudden increase for West Asia is related to the establishment of a single large protected area in 1994 in Saudi Arabia. The total number and area of marine protected areas is relatively very modest, with about 4 000 sites, covering 0.5 per cent of the ocean surface (Chape and others 2005).

It should be noted that several shortcomings persist in data on protected areas. For example, the trends depicted here exclude protected areas for which no starting data was known.

Indicator: Red List Index for birds

The IUCN Red List is widely recognized as an authoritative and objective system for classifying species by their risk of extinction,
with threat status categories ranging from Least Concern to Extinct. Four complete bird species assessments have been conducted
between 1988 and 2004. Red List Indices (RLIs) use information from the IUCN Red List to illustrate net changes in the overall threat status of sets of species, based on their population, range size and trends. They provide a measure of the rate at which species in a particular group increase or decrease in threat status, for example from vulnerable to endangered. Falling RLI values indicate increases in overall threat status over time – that is, proportionally more species becoming more threatened. The RLI for the world’s birds shows that that their overall threat status has deteriorated steadily since 1988, in all ecosystems and biogeographic realms. Declines were particularly steep in the Indomalay realm during the 1990s, as a result of intensifying destruction of lowland forests in the Sundaic lowlands of Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia. A preliminary RLI for amphibians for 1980–2004 shows similar rates of decline as for birds, with the steepest declines in the Neotropical and Australasian/Oceanic realms (Butchart and others 2005).


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