Survey Shows Majority of People Support Setting Aside Half of Earth as Nature Conservation

The survey also showed most people overestimate how much nature is already preserved

A crested black macaque hangs out beachside in a nature reserve on Sulawesi. In studying these intriguing monkeys, known locally as yaki, scientists are learning how their social structure illuminates human behavior. (Stefano Unterthiner/National Geographic)
A crested black macaque hangs out beachside in a nature reserve on Sulawesi. In studying these intriguing monkeys, known locally as yaki, scientists are learning how their social structure illuminates human behavior. (Stefano Unterthiner/National Geographic)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / September 19, 2019 12:31 pm

A new survey conducted by the National Geographic Society and Ipsos reveals that the majority of respondents support setting aside half of the planet’s land and sea for conservation.

As National Geographic reports, 12,000 adults from Australia, Brazil, China, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the United States were polled for the survey about various issues related to conservation, wildlife preservation and biodiversity.

As Jonathan Baillie, executive vice president and chief scientist of National Geographic Society, noted, the so-called Half-Earth plan is necessary to meet the Paris climate target of limiting global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and meet the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. “People want what is scientifically needed for us to have a secure future,” he told the publication.

The survey also showed that across the globe, people vastly overestimate how much nature is already preserved and protected. The respondents believed 35 percent of the sea is preserved, when in reality only seven percent is. Beliefs about how much land is currently preserved ranged from 26 to 45 percent; the actual number is 15 percent.

“We now know that’s not only what’s scientifically justified, but it’s what people across a broad range of countries want,” Baillie said. “So what’s stopping us from being more ambitious?”

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