IIASA's ESM researchers Martin Jung, Myroslava Lesiv, David Leclere & Piero Visconti will present their latest IIASA-led research at the first World Biodiversity Forum.

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IIASA Postdoctoral Research Scholar Martin Jung will present the first results from the Naturemap initiative, that aims to develop global integrated maps of biodiversity, carbon storage and other contributions of nature to people. Furthermore he is going to highlight the first attempts at mapping global terrestrial habitat types in support of upcoming biodiversity assessments in a separate poster session. Also linked to the Naturemap iniative, IIASA Research Scholar Myroslava Lesiv will present the first results of the global campaign for mapping the human impact on forests based on remote sensing and citizen science data. In addition, Research scholar David Leclere will introduce the Bending the Curve framework, an ensemble modelling approach set out to quantify ambitious options and scenarios to avert further biodiversity loss in the years to come. Piero Visconti, a Research Scholar at the ESM section, will join the World Biodiversity Forum to debate and support actions on defining the global agenda for biodiversity over the next 10 years, set to be aligned with the Convention on Biological Diversity at the end of 2020 and the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Martin Jung: A Global Map Of Species Terrestrial Habitat Types

The loss of species habitat - described as the entirety of the physical conditions, e.g. land cover and climate - is one of the primary causes of biodiversity decline globally. Knowledge about species habitats is critical to design landscape management plans and conservation prioritizations. Here, we provide a global spatial-explicit characterization of 47 terrestrial habitat types directly relevant to biodiversity conservation. These habitat types broadly follow the standard habitat classification system defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is widely used for assessments of species extinction risk. This habitat type map was produced by intersecting currently best available data on land-cover, climate and land use from a variety of ancillary datasets. We furthermore validate this map using independently derived estimates of observed habitats from biodiversity occurrence records. Overall, these data broaden our knowledge of habitat types globally and will be highly useful for broad-scale ecological studies and a spatial guide for upcoming IUCN redlist assessments. We hope that this data will spur further development of biodiversity-relevant habitat type maps on a global scale.

Martin Jung: Global Areas Of Importance For Species Conservation And Carbon Storage

Talk in the session: Solution-oriented scenarios to the loss and restore global biodiversity

Meeting the objectives of the UNFCCC and the CBD requires clarity on how those ambitious targets can be translated into national policies. In the case of biodiversity and carbon, the world lacks fully integrated spatial-explicit maps to translate politically agreed levels of ambition into operational targets at local to global levels. Such integrated maps could support governments in translating politically agreed levels of ambition into spatially-explicit policy objectives and promote synergies between relevant multilateral environmental agreements and actions. We performed the most comprehensive data-driven analyses of the global distribution of areas of importance for terrestrial species conservation and carbon storage. We obtained distribution data for the world’s terrestrial amphibians, birds, mammals and reptile species representing approximately 95% of the species known to science in these groups. As a first for these global analyses, we also gathered distribution data for almost half of all vascular plant species known to science, while accounting for geographic and taxonomic biases. We use the distribution maps, together with data on above-ground biomass carbon and vulnerable soil organic carbon, to determine the value of each 10 km grid-cell for species conservation and carbon sequestration on land. We find that accounting for plant and reptile species gives more importance to several centers of endemism for these groups in sub-tropical and temperate regions, including the Caucasus, the Mediterranean Basin, Japan and the Atlantic Forest. Achieving persistence targets for all species would require managing for conservation at least 80% of the terrestrial land-surface of the planet. However, 30% of the planet is already sufficient to achieve these targets for 77.7% of the species when prioritizing biodiversity only. Selecting 20% of additional land, would conserve 82.8% of the estimated total organic carbon stock in addition to achieving persistence targets for 80.4% of all species.

David Leclere: Reversing Terrestrial Biodiversity Declines Due To Habitat Loss: A Model Ensemble Approach

Talk in the session: Solution-oriented scenarios to the loss and restore global biodiversity

Increased efforts are required to prevent further losses of terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides. Ambitious targets have been proposed, such as reversing the declining trends in biodiversity – yet, even just feeding the growing human population will make it a challenge. We use an ensemble of land-use and biodiversity models to assess whether and how we can reverse the terrestrial biodiversity declines due to habitat loss and degradation – major threats to biodiversity. We show that jointly feeding the growing the population and reversing by 2050 the declining global trends in five aspects of biodiversity under habitat loss will require immediate efforts that are both of unprecedented ambition and coordination, and consistent with the broader sustainability agenda. Biodiversity trends could become positive by 2050 but not for all models (95% confidence interval CI: 13 2040-2063) if increasing the extent and management of protected areas, restoring degraded land, and increasing landscape-level conservation planning altogether. However, this could increase food prices while avoiding only 56% (CI: 46-65%) of future biodiversity losses due to habitat loss. Tackling in addition the drivers of land-use change through sustainable intensification of agriculture, increased trade, reduced food waste and healthier human diets altogether avoids conflicting with affordable food provision, reduces our food system’s environmental impacts and allow in almost model combinations (96% on average, CI: 88-100%) to both avoiding >67% of future biodiversity losses and reversing the biodiversity trends by 2050. Although limiting further loss will remain challenging in several biodiversity-rich regions and truly reversing biodiversity trends will need addressing other threats, our results suggest that a transformation of our food system, in combination with bold targets, should be central to the post-2020 biodiversity strategy.

Myroslava Lesiv: Mapping Human Impact On Forests At Global Scale

Talk in the session: Remote Sensing for Biodiversity Monitoring II

Current global tree cover maps do not distinguish f between natural forests, plantations, native or non-native trees, nor do they specify the degree of forest management intensity. The conversion and degradation of natural forests is not only considered among the greatest threats to biodiversity, but also an important source of greenhouse gas emissions. The lack of accurate spatial data on forest management globally is a serious obstacle to informing policies towards forest protection, sustainable forest management and forest restoration. Whereas remotely sensed based datasets can depict tree cover and other land cover types, it has not yet been used to depict untouched forest and different degrees of forest management. We show for the first time that with sufficient training data a differentiation of different levels of forest management is possible. Hence, in spring 2019 we launched a series of Geo-Wiki campaigns. We involved forest experts from different world regions to explore which forest information could be collected by visual interpretation of very high-resolution images from Google Maps and Microsoft Bing, including Sentinel time series and normalized difference vegetation index profiles. Based on the results of this analysis, we expanded the campaigns by involving broader group of participants, mainly people recruited from remote sensing, geography and forest research institutes and universities. In total, we collected forest data for 130000 locations. Based on this data set, we developed a remotely sensed based global forest management layer at a 100m resolution for 2015. The map includes such classes as intact forests, forests with signs of human impact, including clear cuts and logging, replanted forest, woody plantations with a rotation period up to 15 years, oil palms and agroforestry. Overall accuracy is 75%. We will present the results of the Geo-Wiki campaigns, the resulting map, and statistical area estimates of by continents and ecoregions.

About the World Biodiversity Forum

The Fo­rum will pro­vide a plat­form for ex­change, cov­er­ing a wide range of per­spec­tives, and cap­tur­ing a di­ver­si­ty of vi­sions. With this, it aims to re­de­fine and set the agen­da for bio­di­ver­si­ty as a fo­cal point over the next 10 years in cur­rent themes and top­ics across sec­tors. In this, the Fo­rum sup­ports the “New Deal for Na­ture” to be forged by the Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­si­ty at the end of 2020. It is aligned with Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and achieve­ment of which will re­quire the in­volve­ment of all sec­tors/so­ci­etal ac­tors, so­ci­etal con­sen­sus and col­lec­tive search for so­lu­tions to con­serve bio­di­ver­si­ty. 

from the World biodiversity website

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