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The World Conservation Congress in October is the perfect opportunity to codify policies to staunch the loss of species, habitat and ecosystem services, say Luigi Boitani and colleagues in PLoS Biology.

They argue that a key issue on the agenda should be revising the categories of the world's 100,000 Protected Areas, from those reflecting management aims — how they should be organised and used — to categories based on their contribution to global biodiversity.

Basing categories on conservation objectives, such as the species, communities and habitats to be maintained, they say, would enable progress to be monitored and recorded.

The switch would have "huge implications" for preserving the earth's rapidly diminishing biodiversity. Because Protected Areas are the basis for assessing the extent of governments' engagement with conservation, they have a considerable impact on national and international conservation policies.

The authors admit there are political difficulties in obtaining international cooperation in a difficult revision of conservation efforts, particularly in developing countries that lack resources to implement the changes. But, they maintain, "our arguments are absolutely obvious, logical and sound. It is only a matter of time."

Link to full article in PLoS Biology

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