Why Nature Map Earth?
The international community has adopted ambitious targets for reducing and reversing the loss of biodiversity and other ecosystems services by 2020, but these targets will be missed. In 2020 the international community will adopt new biodiversity targets at the CBD COP15 in China. Nature Map will develop integrated maps of conservation and restoration opportunities that allow policymakers, civil society, and businesses to operationalize targets by translating them into geographically explicit priorities for conservation and restoration.
Will Nature Map set targets for biodiversity and how does it relate to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and proposals, such as Half Earth?
Targets for biodiversity and other ecosystem services must be set by governments. Civil society organizations and businesses may adopt their own science-based targets. Nature Map will not set any targets, but instead develop decision support tools to help countries decide on international targets and translate their political commitments into operational strategies that tackle conservation and restoration priorities.
Many biodiversity maps are available, so what’s new about Nature Map?
Indeed, a lot of biodiversity data is available as maps and some integrate across several dimensions of biodiversity. Nature Map aims to make the following contributions: (i) identify and integrate new data layers, including but not limited to reptiles, plant taxa, soil and biomass carbon, and hydrological services; (ii) crowd-source new data, particularly on forest management, and identify areas of greatest uncertainty so that they can be filled through scientific research; (iii) aggregate the information at the highest possible resolution and rate each area (pixel) by how much biodiversity and carbon it contains; and (iv) generate new information on areas of greatest restoration potential. On the basis of this work we will also be able to identify major knowledge gaps.
What does “nature” mean?
We use the term “nature” to describe the different dimensions of biodiversity, carbon contained in soils and biomass, and other ecosystem services, such as hydrological flows.
Why does Nature Map only cover terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services?
Nature Map will indeed focus its technical work on consolidating data for nature on land. We are coordinating with other initiatives that are developing maps of ocean and coastal conservation as well as restoration priorities by the summer of 2019. As soon as possible we will aim to present integrated maps for biodiversity and ecosystems services in terrestrial, costal, and marine ecosystems.
How will this map be useful for governments, business, civil society, and academia?
- Governments can use Nature Map to translate targets into operational spatial objectives at local, national, regional, and global levels. Of course, this alone will not guarantee success, as countries must also develop and implement strategies to meet these objectives. However, the human pressures on habitats and species are so high that the absence of clarity on how to translate high-level goals into priorities for conservation, restoration, and sustainable development would almost certainly lead to failure in halting the loss of biodiversity or in pursuing large-scale restoration.
- Businesses can use Nature Map to develop their own science-based targets and understand the impact of their activities and supply chains on biodiversity, soil and biomass carbon, as well as other ecosystem services. They can also use the information to identify and mitigate risks in each of their markets.
- Civil society can use Nature Map for identifying conservation and restoration priorities, promote integrated approaches to ecosystem services management, monitor progress, and advocate for a higher level of ambition.
- Academia and researchers will be able to identify and help close data and other knowledge gaps in our understanding of conservation and restoration priorities. They can also use Nature Map to develop long-term pathways toward sustainable land-use and food systems that show how the SDGs and objectives of the Paris Agreement can be achieved.
Why focus on global maps when some countries have better national data available?
Nature Map aims to inform the global discussions around the 2020-2030 framework of the CBD as well as the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Many countries lack integrated, geospatial data that can assist them in making their targets for conservation and restoration operational. We hope to help fill this gap. Naturally, some countries have access to more detailed and comprehensive data than can be generated through this initiative. These countries should of course use their more detailed locally available data. Perhaps such countries will still benefit from some of the data layers made available through Nature Map as well as the methodology for combining the data layers and prioritizing areas for conservation and restoration.
Which data will you use?
Nature Map aims to consolidate the best available global data. We will organize several consultation and crowd-sourcing campaigns to improve and complete datasets, but we will not collect new data. The initiative focuses on preparing global maps of biodiversity, so our focus will be on data that is available globally with a high degree of consistency. This may include rich data that may be available only for some countries or ecoregions. Over time, we hope to prepare comprehensive, high-quality maps that have global coverage.
How do you ensure transparency and technical rigor?
We will consult extensively with scientific organizations and CBD national focal points to discuss data and methodologies. This will include expert workshops and online consultations. All data will be made publicly available. Indeed, we plan to only work with data providers who agree to make their data available for public use. Findings will go through rigorous scientific peer reviews.
How can I find out more and contribute to Nature Map?
We welcome help and support in building Nature Map. Up-to-date information on the initiative will soon be available at www.naturemap.earth. You can then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does Nature Map support ecoregion-based approaches and other forms of zonation?
Yes. Nature varies tremendously between, say, a boreal forest and a tropical rainforest. As a result it is critical to set targets for the conservation and restoration of nature by ecoregions. And since most policies are set at national levels, national-level targets are equally important. The Nature Map data and analyses can support approaches by ecoregion and for each country, but, as mentioned above, the project itself will not provide targets.
How can a pixel-based analysis account for migratory species?
This is indeed a challenge. Several techniques have been developed to account for migratory species in terrestrial and marine landscapes. We will work with the research community to incorporate them as best as possible in the design of Nature Map
What are the upcoming milestones for the initiative and what happens at the end of the project?
We plan to publish a first version of Nature Map around the September Climate Summit organized by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. The work will then be refined and updated in the run-up to the October 2020 Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China. Thereafter, we plan to issue periodic updates using new data on biodiversity, ecosystem services, as well as land cover.
Who is behind Nature Map and who funds this initiative?
The initiative was developed jointly by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It is funded by Norway’s International Climate Initiative (NICFI). The funder has no influence on the scientific findings of Nature Map, which will all undergo scientific peer review.