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A new study from our top-rated Biosciences department, Princeton University, Williams College and Yale University has uncovered a dramatic lack of conservation actions being implemented for thousands of the world's most endangered species.

Despite biodiversity falling into crisis, the majority of endangered plants and animals are being left to fend for themselves with no evidence of targeted actions in place to recover their populations from threats like habitat loss, overexploitation, and invasive pests.

Very concerning findings

The study findings are deeply concerning as without intensified, strategic conservation efforts, we're headed towards a mass extinction catastrophe.

This study is the first comprehensive global assessment of how conservation efforts are being allocated across nearly 6,000 terrestrial species listed as threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

What the researchers found was an alarming intervention shortage:

  • For over half (58%) of highly threatened species, they could not find any evidence of key conservation actions being implemented like habitat protections, invasive species control, or regulations on international trade.
  • Just 9% of species threatened by habitat loss have minimally sufficiently amounts of habitat safeguarded in protected areas.
  • Only 24% of species endangered by invasive species like rats, cats, and deadly fungi have documented programmes in place to control these problematic invaders.

While the overall findings are bleak, the study did uncover some bright spots demonstrating that conservation can be greatly effective when efforts are made.

Call for conservation scale-up

The researchers argue the number of seriously neglected threatened species indicates a major deficit in global interventions that must be urgently prioritised and funded, especially in biodiversity-rich developing nations.

They call on all parties to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework to greatly accelerate strategic and well-funded conservation programmes to meet agreed upon goals for limiting extinction rates.

Find out more

  • This study was led by Dr Rebecca Senior and Professor David Wilcove of Princeton University is a co-author of the study.
  • Read the published in the Nature journal.
  • Interested in studying at Durham? Explore our undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Our Department of Biosciences is a leading centre for this increasingly important area of study and is ranked 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024. Students develop a wide range of analytical and practical skills that prepare them to meet these challenges we face across the globe including food security, sustainability and the impact of climate change.

Feeling inspired? Visit our Biosciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.