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How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented?

Bolam, Friederike C and Mair, Louise and Angelico, Marco and Brooks, Thomas M and Burgman, Mark and Hermes, Claudia and Hoffmann, Michael and Martin, Rob W and McGowan, Philip JK and Rodrigues, Ana SL and Rondinini, Carlo and Westrip, James RS and Wheatley, Hannah and Bedolla-Guzmán, Yuliana and Calzada, Javier and Child, Matthew F and Cranswick, Peter A and Dickman, Christopher R and Fessl, Birgit and Fisher, Diana O and Garnett, Stephen T and Groombridge, Jim J and Johnson, Christopher N and Kennerley, Rosalind J and King, Sarah RB and Lamoreux, John F and Lees, Alexander C and Lens, Luc and Mahood, Simon P and Mallon, David P and Meijaard, Erik and Méndez-Sánchez, Federico and Percequillo, Alexandre Reis and Regan, Tracey J and Renjifo, Luis Miguel and Rivers, Malin C and Roach, Nicolette S and Roxburgh, Lizanne and Safford, Roger J and Salaman, Paul and Squires, Tom and Vázquez-Domínguez, Ella and Visconti, Piero and Woinarski, John CZ and Young, Richard P and Butchart, Stuart HM (2021) How many bird and mammal extinctions has recent conservation action prevented? Conservation Letters, 14 (1). e12762. ISSN 1755-263X


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Aichi Target 12 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) contains the aim to ‘prevent extinctions of known threatened species’. To measure the degree to which this was achieved, we used expert elicitation to estimate the number of bird and mammal species whose extinctions were prevented by conservation action in 1993–2020 (the lifetime of the CBD) and 2010–2020 (the timing of Aichi Target 12). We found that conservation action prevented 21–32 bird and 7–16 mammal extinctions since 1993, and 9–18 bird and two to seven mammal extinctions since 2010. Many remain highly threatened and may still become extinct. Considering that 10 bird and five mammal species did go extinct (or are strongly suspected to) since 1993, extinction rates would have been 2.9–4.2 times greater without conservation action. While policy commitments have fostered significant conservation achievements, future biodiversity action needs to be scaled up to avert additional extinctions.

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