At least 80% of the world’s most important sites for biodiversity on land currently contain human developments - University of Cambridge

At least 80% of sites identified as being internationally important for biodiversity on land currently contain infrastructure − of which more than 75% contain roads. In the future, more sites that are important for biodiversity could contain powerplants, mines and oil and gas infrastructure

A study has found that infrastructure worldwide is widespread in sites that have been identified as internationally important for biodiversity, and its prevalence is likely to increase.

This is the first ever assessment of the presence of infrastructure in Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs): a global network of thousands of sites recognised internationally as being the world’s most critical areas for wildlife.

Infrastructure is one of the greatest drivers of threats to biodiversity according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It can cause natural habitat destruction and fragmentation, pollution, increased disturbance or hunting by humans, the spread of invasive species, direct mortality, and can have wider impacts beyond the development site.

Now, researchers from BirdLife International, WWF and the RSPB, in association with the University of Cambridge, have conducted an assessment of infrastructure in KBAs, finding that it is widespread and likely to increase. The results are published today in Biological Conservation.

“It’s concerning that human developments exist in the vast majority of sites that have been identified as being critical for nature,” said Ash Simkins, a Zoology PhD student at the University of Cambridge who led the study.

KBAs are sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. For example, they may contain species that are under a high risk of extinction or are home to species or ecosystems that are found in only a small area worldwide.

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Posted On: 23/03/2023

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