Bending the curve of terrestrial biodiversity needs an integrated strategy.


Leclère D and Obersteiner M and Barrett M and Butchart SHM and Chaudhary A and De Palma A and DeClerck FAJ and Di Marco M and Doelman JC and Dürauer M and Freeman R and Harfoot M and Hasegawa T and Hellweg S and Hilbers JP and Hill SLL and Humpenöder F and Jennings N and Krisztin T and Mace GM and Ohashi H and Popp A and Purvis A and Schipper AM and Tabeau A and Valin H and van Meijl H and van Zeist WJ and Visconti P and Alkemade R and Almond R and Bunting G and Burgess ND and Cornell SE and Di Fulvio F and Ferrier S and Fritz S and Fujimori S and Grooten M and Harwood T and Havlík P and Herrero M and Hoskins AJ and Jung M and Kram T and Lotze-Campen H and Matsui T and Meyer C and Nel D and Newbold T and Schmidt-Traub G and Stehfest E and Strassburg BBN and van Vuuren DP and Ware C and Watson JEM and Wu W and Young L

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Increased efforts are required to prevent further losses to terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services that it  provides(1,2). Ambitious targets have been proposed, such as reversing the declining trends in biodiversity(3); however, just feeding the growing human population will make this a challenge(4). Here we use an ensemble of land-use and biodiversity models to assess whether-and how-humanity can reverse the declines in terrestrial biodiversity caused by habitat conversion, which is a major threat to biodiversity(5). We show that immediate efforts, consistent with the broader sustainability agenda but of unprecedented ambition and coordination, could enable the provision of food for the growing human population while reversing the global terrestrial biodiversity trends caused by habitat conversion. If we decide to increase the extent of land under conservation management, restore degraded land and generalize landscape-level conservation planning, biodiversity trends from habitat conversion could become positive by the mid-twenty-first century on average across models (confidence interval, 2042-2061), but this was not the case for all models. Food prices could increase and, on average across models, almost half (confidence interval, 34-50%) of the future biodiversity losses could not be avoided. However, additionally tackling the drivers of land-use change could avoid conflict with affordable food provision and reduces the environmental effects of the food-provision system. Through further sustainable intensification and trade, reduced food waste and more plant-based human diets, more than two thirds of future biodiversity losses are avoided and the biodiversity trends from habitat conversion are reversed by 2050 for almost all of the models. Although limiting further loss will remain challenging in several biodiversity-rich regions, and other threats-such as climate change-must be addressed to truly reverse the declines in biodiversity, our results show that ambitious conservation efforts and food system transformation are central to an effective post-2020 biodiversity strategy.