Questions for ‘Can people protect as much space as nature needs?’

Habitat loss, such as this clear-cutting in the Amazon (shown), is one of the major threats to plant and animal diversity worldwide. Governments are drafting an ambitious new set of conservation targets to safeguard species and prevent further losses.

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To accompany “Can people protect as much space as nature needs?


Before Reading:

1.  What does it mean for a species to go extinct?

2.  Many populations of species are declining and entire species are going extinct. Why are people worried about this?

During Reading:

1.  According to the story, how many species may face extinction within the coming decades?

2.  Why do scientists such as Oscar Venter say that the goal of protecting 30 percent of Earth’s land by 2030 is more of a starting point than a goal?

3.  Give three examples of biodiversity hot spots mentioned in the story.

4.  Why might protecting less-diverse regions of the planet, such as the boreal forest of Canada and Russia, be a good idea?

5.  What percentage of marine life can be found on coral reefs?

6.  How much of the Amazon rainforest should probably be kept intact and why, according to the story?

7.  Why does Stuart Pimm argue that protection may work best if done in “a smart, targeted way”?

8.  Why is policing and prosecuting an important part of setting up a protected area?

9.  Why does Oscar Venter point to Indigenous lands as an example of how to protect land?

10.  How might the COVID-19 pandemic show the importance of keeping wild places intact?

After Reading:

1.  After reading the story, do you think that the goal of protecting 30 percent of land by 2030 is a good idea? If not, what should be the goal? Support your answer using evidence from the story.

2.  Creating a protected area requires money from a government, charity or other organization. Is this a good use of money? Explain why you think so.


1.  Earth has about 148,940,000 square kilometers (57,510,000 square miles) of land and 361,132,000 sq km (139,434,000 sq mi) of water. If governments agree to protect 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050, how much land and water would be protected in those two points in time?