In areas of intense land use, 10-20 per cent of permanent habitats should be maintained.
Photo : ©Daniel Prudek/

Maintaining biodiversity-friendly landscapes

Protecting our ecosystems requires more than the enlargement of protected areas. With the right incentives, farmed landscapes could be managed in a way that enhances the numerous benefits nature offers to society and that support the biodiversity conservation targets of protected areas.

The enlargement of protected areas and carbon price incentives for reforestation alone will not stop biodiversity decline and the ongoing loss of critical ecosystem functions if it is not accompanied by measures that also target managed landscapes, according to a new study published in May 2023. 

The study led by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)/Germany shows that even in scenarios with a high demand for land it is possible to maintain biodiversity-friendly landscapes, which also provide critical services such as pollination and healthy soils. The research demonstrates that land use is not a zero-sum game but that it matters where farmland is located in order to promote landscape diversity. 

 “The fact that the international community has agreed to put 30 per cent of the land surface under protection by 2030 is a big step forward, but we should also not forget the other 70 per cent. Ultimately, these are the areas in which our economy and nature interact the most and which are home to many species that are most familiar to us,” PIK lead author Patrick von Jeetze explains. “From pollination and soil protection to mental health aspects and flood prevention, we know that green spaces in intensely-used landscapes and close to human settlements can provide many benefits. A well-organised network of green spaces also helps to better link-up protected areas, which would make it easier for species to migrate – a critical aspect especially in a changing climate.”

“There is broad consensus that ten to twenty per cent of permanent habitats, such as extensively managed grasslands or groves, should be maintained in areas of intense land use in order to provide an ecological reserve and to connect protected areas,” adds co-author Isabelle Weindl from PIK. “Our study shows that maintaining these habitats in farmed landscapes would in principle be possible on a global scale, even in scenarios with strong competition between different land uses.”

The study demonstrates that what it takes is a smart and adaptive allocation of land use at global level to promote biodiversity-friendly landscapes and to balance different land conservation targets. At the same time, the study reveals that important co-benefits exist between conservation measures. A Land-based climate mitigation scenario, for example, also caused a 75 per cent reduction of soil loss at global level as compared to a reference scenario without climate action.


Read more on the PIK website

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