A new study by scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Durham University, and Princeton University says protecting current conservation areas is as important for keeping biodiversity intact as establishing new protected areas. Of approximately 5,000 species studied, about 70% are either completely unrepresented in protected areas; in protected areas that have been downsized, downgraded or lost their official status (PADDD - Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing and Degazettement refers to legal changes that ease restrictions on the use of a protected area, shrink a protected area's boundaries or eliminate legal protections entirely.); or would be at risk if land use shifts. PADDD events occurred on more than 687 million acres of parks as of 2021. Strengthening existing protections and enlarging current park networks across one percent of the land on Earth could protect crucial habitats for 1,191 wildlife species that are at heightened risk. “Our study also shows the importance of ensuring that protected areas remain effective at keeping out harmful human activity,” says lead author Dr. Yiwen Zeng of NUS. The bottom line is that effectively managed parks are essential to the planet’s biodiversity, he said.

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