An inclusive, empirically grounded inventory facilitates recognition of diverse area-based conservation of nature

Related GLP Member: Siyu Qin, Yifan (Flora) He

Abstract

As the international community strives to conserve 30% of Earth’s lands and waters by 2030, the full extent of area-based conservation remains unclear. Official databases do not fully recognize and track the diversity of conservation-relevant governance systems, hindering conservation research, policy, planning, and action. Here, we describe and test an inclusive, empirically grounded approach to documenting area-based governance systems that potentially advance biodiversity conservation. Among Amazonian countries, we identify greater area coverage and diversity of conservation governance systems than official databases. We further illustrate the relevance of this approach using global examples of under-recognized conservation governance systems. Our findings highlight the need for an inclusive, empirically grounded inventory that reflects the full diversity of area-based conservation systems. We recommend researchers, governments, non-state actors, and donors to adopt similar inventories to increase feasibility, transparency, and inclusivity as a foundational component of global efforts to fulfill international commitments and create a nature-positive future.