The Convention on Biological Diversity's (CBD) strategic plan will expire in 2020, but biodiversity loss is ongoing. Scientists call for more ambitious targets in the next agreement. The nature-needs-half movement, for example, has advocated conserving half of Earth to solve the biodiversity crisis, which has been translated to protecting 50% of each ecoregion. We evaluated current protection levels of ecoregions in the territory of one of the CBD's signatories, the European Union (EU). We also explored the possible enlargement of the Natura 2000 network to implement 30% or 50% ecoregion coverage in the EU member states' protected area (PA) network. Based on the most recent land-use data, we examined whether ecoregions have enough natural area left to reach such high coverage targets. We used a spatially explicit mixed integer programing model to estimate the least-cost expansion of the PA network based on 3 scenarios that put different emphasis on total conservation cost, ecological representation of ecosystems, or emphasize an equal share of the burden among member states. To realize 30% and 50% ecoregion coverage, the EU would need to add 6.6% and 24.2%, respectively, of its terrestrial area to its PA network. For all 3 scenarios, the EU would need to designate most recommended new PAs in seminatural forests and other semi- or natural ecosystems. Because 15 ecoregions did not have enough natural area left to implement the ecoregion-coverage targets, some member states would also need to establish new PAs on productive land, allocating the largest share to arable land. Thirty percent ecoregion coverage was met by protecting remaining natural areas in all ecoregions except 3, where productive land would also need to be included. Our results support discussions of higher ecoregions protection targets for post-2020 biodiversity frameworks.
Keywords: Aichi targets; Half-Earth; Media-Tierra; conservation targets; ecological representation; la-naturaleza-necesita-la-mitad; mixed integer programing; nature-needs-half; objetivos de Aichi; objetivos de conservación; planeación sistemática de la conservación; programación entera mixta; protected-area networks; redes de áreas protegidas; representación ecológica; systematic conservation planning; 爱知目标, 保护目标, 生态代表性, 半个地球, 混合整数规划, “自然需要一半”, 保护地网络, 系统保护规划.
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