Spatial layers of global importance highlighting the upper potential value of conserving biodiversity, carbon and water assets under different area-based conservation targets.

To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, the international community requires clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially and how multiple targets can be pursued concurrently. To support goal setting and the implementation of international strategies and action plans, spatial guidance is needed to identify which land areas have the potential to generate the greatest synergies between conserving biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. This dataset contains the results from a joint optimization that minimizes the number of threatened species, maximizes carbon retention and water quality regulation, and ranks terrestrial conservation priorities globally. 

The global conservation importance layers were produced by the Nature Map Earth project and integrated the best available global biodiversity, carbon and water data at the time. In particular, it includes for the first time a representative set of about half of all plant species globally as well as above, below and soil organic carbon at risk from land use change. Different combinations of layers integrating biodiversity, carbon and/or water value are presented, based on the protected area network at the time (covering ~16% of terrestrial land area) or starting from a blank state. The maps highlight the upper potential value of any global terrestrial land area for conserving these valuable assets and presented as ranking from most (1) to least importance (100). More details on the methods can be found in Jung et al. (2021) and on the data repository.

Areas of global conservation importance © CC-BY-SA 4.0

Figure 1 from Jung et al. 2022

All layers are area-consistent, meaning the global ranking of important areas can also be subset to regions that satistify certain area-based conservation targets (such as 30% of land area). An interactive explorer to navigate the layers and different subsets of it below.