The benefits of protected areas for bird population trends may depend on their condition

Brighton, Caroline H.; Massimino, Dario; Boersch-Supan, Philipp; Barnes, Ailidh E.; Martay, Blaise; Bowler, Diana E. ORCID:; Hoskins, Hannah M.J.; Pearce-Higgins, James W.. 2024 The benefits of protected areas for bird population trends may depend on their condition. Biological Conservation, 292, 110553. 10, pp.

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The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework calls for at least 30% of land and sea to be protected by 2030. Whilst there is growing evidence that protected areas can benefit biodiversity, to achieve the greatest possible gains from their expansion, we must understand how protected area quality impacts upon biodiversity metrics. We used UK BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey data and protected areas condition data from national Common Standards Monitoring, to test whether improving site condition (for which there are UK policy targets) would contribute to stated policy targets to increase species' abundance. After controlling for differences in climate, land cover, and elevation, we found a positive association between the proportion of favourable habitat and bird abundance trends in the UK, while in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland combined, the positive effect was also significantly greater than in unfavourable habitat. Conversely, we also found a negative effect of proportion of favourable habitat on bird abundance. There was no evidence that these relationships varied between conservation status or many of the traits considered, although there was some evidence that favourable condition was beneficial for habitat specialists, cold-adapted species, and varied by habitat. Our findings suggest that improving the condition of protected areas currently in unfavourable condition, will contribute to nature recovery as measured by species' abundance trends in some circumstances. This also suggests that achieving the “30 by 30” target without ensuring those protected areas are of sufficient quality, may not be sufficient to restore biodiversity.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: biodiversity, protected areas, habitat condition, habitat management, nature recovery
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 28 Mar 2024 16:27 +0 (UTC)

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