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First-ever global catalogue of ecosystems will enable coordinated conservation efforts - IUCN

Permafrost in tundra ecosystems is a massive carbon sink vital to the world's future climate. Sydkap, East Greenland (Hannes Grobe)
Permafrost in tundra ecosystems is a massive carbon sink vital to the world's future climate. Sydkap, East Greenland (Hannes Grobe)

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) today published its Global Typology of Ecosystems, the first-ever comprehensive system for classifying and mapping all ecosystems on Earth based on both their functions and composition. The typology allows for more coordinated and effective approaches to conservation management.

“Many of the world’s ecosystems are under acute risk of collapse, with grave consequences for the survival of species, genetic diversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing. To sustain them, it’s critically important that the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework contains explicit, ambitious goals for the conservation of ecosystems alongside species,” said IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle. “This first standardised, spatially explicit ecosystem typology provides the infrastructure that is needed to set and track such goals.”

The typology defines the key biophysical features of 108 major ecosystem types throughout the oceans, freshwater and land, and describes the processes that sustain them as well as their global distributions. It encompasses ecosystems that are shaped by humans – such as croplands and dams – as well as vast forest wilderness, deserts, deep ocean trenches, and even ecosystems buried below ground and beneath ice sheets. This systematic approach to classifying ecosystems will help identify which types of forests, reefs and wetlands, for example, are most critical to biodiversity conservation and the supply of ecosystem services, and which are at greatest risk of collapse.

Posted on: 02 March 2021

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