Mapping the planet’s critical natural assets – for Nature’s Contributions to People (NCPs) (2022 Nov)

Citation: Chaplin-Kramer, R., Neugarten, R.A., Sharp, R.P. et al. Mapping the planet’s critical natural assets. Nat Ecol Evol (2022).

NCP – Nature’s Contributions to People

As a nutrition professional, this study can help you demonstrate how conserving nature can contribute to human wellbeing and maps the places – both lands and waters – that are essential for providing many of nature’s benefits to nearby communities, like food, freshwater, and protection from storm surge or flooding. Use the maps for areas you are working in to prioritise hot spots for nutrition security.

The study finds that conserving 30 percent of the Earth’s land and 24 percent of marine jurisdictions would sustain 90 percent of the total amount of those benefits to people. Moreover, these ‘critical natural assets’ deliver disproportionately high levels of benefits to an enormous percentage of the world’s population – more than 6 billion people globally – through providing services like water quality regulation, coastal protection, flood mitigation, fisheries, fodder for grazing animals, and many others. 

“All people on the planet benefit from nature” said Becky Chaplin-Kramer, lead author of the study and principal research scientist at the University of Minnesota. “What is striking is just how many people benefit from a relatively modest proportion of our total global land and ocean area. If we can safeguard these areas through a variety of conservation mechanisms that continue to allow the types of use that make them so valuable, including Indigenous and locally-driven conservation, we can ensure that these benefits continue for years to come.”

The research is not only the most comprehensive set of nature’s benefits to people yet to be mapped but the approach that has been developed can be adapted to national or sub-national decision-making scales, and, crucially, can and must be complemented with input from local people “Global maps can provide a big picture view, which can reveal large-scale patterns, but requires local context to make sense of, and to make decisions for, implementation,” says Chaplin-Kramer. “Ultimately, we hope this information can be used alongside other diverse values of nature, including intrinsic values of species. Recognizing the way every one of us benefits from and relies on nature can help create lasting buy-in for conservation.”

Adapted from Conservation International press release.

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