December 21, 2022
New York, NY - Panthera applauds the ambitious shared commitment by the world’s nations to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 — the centerpiece of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP15, in Montreal. Protecting and recovering wild cats and their landscapes worldwide can help drive this agenda starting now.
John Goodrich, Panthera’s Chief Scientist, stated, “Protecting and recovering wild cats and their landscapes is key to implementing the new Global Biodiversity Framework and vice versa. The 40 wild cat species occupy 74 percent of the earth’s landmass and overlap with 75 percent of its Key Biodiversity Areas — the most critical sites for nature on our planet.
“Because of their enormous ranges and high-value habitats, and their roles as apex carnivores and ecosystem engineers, recovering wild cat populations achieves many of the Framework’s urgent objectives, including protecting high-integrity ecosystems, enhancing connectivity, and restoring ecosystems’ functions and benefits to people. Focusing on wild cats is, in a word, efficient.
“In the aftermath of these negotiations, with vague wording in many of the goals and targets, the question of how to measure progress will be paramount. As some of the most monitored species on Earth, the big cats can be counted in a timely, cost-effective way. They are clear indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health that governments can use starting now to track, measure and report on their national commitments.”
The Global Biodiversity Framework includes measures to address the threats to biodiversity, through intentional and inclusive land and sea use-planning, restoration of degraded ecosystems, and increasing the amount of land, inland waterways, coasts and oceans that are under protection — the 30x30 target widely agreed by scientists to be the minimum needed to stop nature loss, if focused on the most important areas for biodiversity.
Acknowledging the extinction crisis, governments agreed to halt human-caused extinction of known threatened species, and, by 2050, to reduce the extinction risk and rate of all species tenfold, while increasing the abundance of native wild species to healthy and resilient levels. Targets to manage human-wildlife conflict, and to ensure sustainable use, harvesting, trade, and management of wild species are not directly measurable currently. They will require the rapid development of relevant indicators to monitor and measure direct killing and overexploitation as continuing threats to cats and their prey.
Fred Launay, President & CEO, stated, “While one can certainly debate whether the Global Biodiversity Framework goes far enough or fast enough, or is fair or financed enough, there is reason to celebrate this historic agreement. It cements in the public consciousness that nature loss is reversible and that our lives depend on it. The science alone will not compel action on a grand scale, but charismatic species can. Wild cats, with their reach, recognition and cultural importance for billions of people around the world, have the power to bring us together, drive our recovery, and be the ultimate indicators of our success.”
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world’s ecosystems. Panthera’s team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards, tigers and the 33 small cat species and their vast landscapes. In 39 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats — securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org.