The relative importance of COVID‐19 pandemic impacts on biodiversity conservation globally

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Sandbrook, Chris 
Sutherland, William J.  ORCID logo
Akter, Rezvin 
Bradbury, Richard 

Abstract: The COVID‐19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on almost all aspects of human society and endeavor; the natural world and its conservation have not been spared. Through a process of expert consultation, we identified and categorized, into 19 themes and 70 subthemes, the ways in which biodiversity and its conservation have been or could be affected by the pandemic globally. Nearly 60% of the effects have been broadly negative. Subsequently, we created a compendium of all themes and subthemes, each with explanatory text, and in August 2020 a diverse group of experienced conservationists with expertise from across sectors and geographies assessed each subtheme for its likely impact on biodiversity conservation globally. The 9 subthemes ranked highest all have a negative impact. These were, in rank order, governments sidelining the environment during their economic recovery, reduced wildlife‐based tourism income, increased habitat destruction, reduced government funding, increased plastic and other solid waste pollution, weakening of nature‐friendly regulations and their enforcement, increased illegal harvest of wild animals, reduced philanthropy, and threats to survival of conservation organizations. In combination, these impacts present a worrying future of increased threats to biodiversity conservation but reduced capacity to counter them. The highest ranking positive impact, at 10, was the beneficial impact of wildlife‐trade restrictions. More optimistically, among impacts ranked 11‐20, 6 were positive and 4 were negative. We hope our assessment will draw attention to the impacts of the pandemic and, thus, improve the conservation community's ability to respond to such threats in the future.

CONTRIBUTED PAPER, CONTRIBUTED PAPERS, ambiente, compendio, coronavirus, evaluación, fauna, naturaleza, assessment, compendium, environment, nature, wildlife
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Conservation Biology
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