Photo credit: The Nature Conservancy/Rui Rezende

Business leaders call for global action to reverse the fragmentation of nature

April 13, 2017

Business leaders call for global action to reverse the fragmentation of nature

Connected landscapes are necessary for wildlife and, according to hundreds of the world’s largest companies, a great business opportunity as well. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) just released the first ever, corporate “Call to Action” to conserve connected landscapes.

Large intact ecosystems are becoming as scarce as any endangered species. The pressures from agriculture, urbanization, and energy and transportation development are often the main culprits. The fragmentation of nature is a major threat to the health of the planet as it inhibits the movement, interactions and flows of genes, species and ecosystem services.

Forest lost may have been responsible for the loss of 599 million tons of carbon from the Amazon over the last 10 years due to fragmentation edge effects.  — WBCSD Report

Fragmented landscapes also limit the options for species and ecosystems to respond to novel environmental conditions due to climate change. Since most of the rainfall in the Amazon is generated by its trees, significant forest loss will not only impact rainfall in the Amazon but also in surrounding countries far from the tropics. This means less capacity for lands and waters to support human economic and social needs. Unhealthy landscapes make for unhealthy business.

If fragmentation is the disease, then connectivity is the cure. And the business community has a critical role to play in the solution. The WBCSD makes the business case for connectivity conservation in its new report

Connectivity sustains landscapes, supports high levels of biodiversity, allows nature to respond to climate change and offers a range of environmental, economic and social benefits. For instance, connectivity supports the ecological processes that sustain agricultural endeavors through improved soils, water, pollination, pest management, carbon sequestration and nutrient cycles.

Over 70% of our fruit and vegetables rely on insects and other animals for pollination. — WBCSD Report

Intact natural systems must be a priority of society. In nature, the sum is very much greater than its parts. However, in circumstances where landscapes have been fragmented, even in the urbanest of environments, connectivity can be employed as the green architectural framework for large-scale conservation. In a fragmented world, national parks and wildland areas can be considered the heart, lungs, and organs of nature, and connectivity is the circulatory system that sustains these organs.

The World Commission on Protected Areas of IUCN has recently established the Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group in recognition of the growing practice of connectivity conservation. By connecting people across all segments of society and across the globe, we can ultimately connect nature.

Author

Gary Tabor
Executive Director, Center for Large Landscape Conservation

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