Informing Canada's approach to 30x30

Eckert et al., SUBMITTED, DOI: 10.1101/2022.12.16.520787

Protecting 30% of land by 2030

Canada, along with over 120 other nations, have committed to Target 3 in the new global biodiversity framework (protecting 30% of terrestrial land by 2030), giving humanity a chance to curb biodiversity loss and preserve eroding ecosystem services. But how can we maximize the benefits of 30x30 for biodiversity? To answer this question we tested how prioritizing different taxonomic groups (i.e., birds, mammals, amphibians & reptiles, plants, or butterflies), species at-risk, or biodiversity facets (i.e., functional or phylogenetic diversity) impacts our ability to protect biodiversity at large. We also tested how coordinating protection at different spatial scales (global, national, or regional) impacts conservation priorities and limits our ability to protect Canadian biodiversity. To incorporate climate change, we used both current and future projections of species distributions to identify "win-win" areas that are climatically viable into the future and prioritize them for protection.


  • Existing protected areas (representing ~15% of terrestrial land) do not capture biodiversity and only protect 15% of all species, including 6% of species at-risk, and only 1% of amphibians and reptiles

  • A nationally coordinated approach to reaching 30x30 could generate large conservation gains and safeguard over 65% of all species, over 40% of species at-risk, and over 60% of amphibians and reptiles (Fig. 1)

  • Uncoordinated regional approaches such as protecting 30% of each Province, Territory, or Ecozone, severely limit our ability to protect biodiversity at large

  • Prioritizing different taxa (i.e., birds, mammals, plants, etc.), species at-risk, or functional or phylogenetic biodiversity facets only slightly affects our ability to realize the potential of 30x30 here in Canada

Figure 1 — Efficiently protecting biodiversity relies on national coordination. A) Spatial priorities across different scales of coordination. Cells are coloured by priority rank and corresponding biodiversity gains are visualized in pie charts. B) Biodiversity trade-offs associated with different scales of coordination across all measures of biodiversity. C-D) The uneven challenge of achieving the baseline National scenario captured by the portion of prioritized land across Provinces, Territories, and Ecozones.


As nations work to fulfill Target 3 of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, their approaches to prioritization land for protection will determine both the success of 30x30 as well as the future of species, communities, and ecosystems around the globe. We show that a coordinated national strategy can both maximize the protection of a country’s biodiversity, and efficiently contribute to the protection of transnational biodiversity in the broadest sense. On the other hand, regional representation of protected areas, without national coordination, could severely limit our ability to safeguard biodiversity into the future under climate change. As such, countries should invest in building a national strategy to inform regional and local conservation programs, track progress, and report gains. Our ability to coordinate and cooperate will likely determine the success of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and potentially, the future of biodiversity on Earth.