Biodiversity Areas under Threat: Overlap of Climate Change and Population Pressures on the World’s Biodiversity Priorities
Areas with high population growth and changing precipitation patterns are vulnerable to environmental degradation and food insecurity. Healthy ecosystems are critical for maintaining livelihoods. The patterns we have found indicate areas where changes in precipitation and population increase could lead to ecosystem degradation and loss of ecosystem services. This analysis can be used to test hypotheses about the impacts of wetting and drying on agricultural extensification and habitat conversion by examining remote sensing data in similar areas that have experienced different types of precipitation change. While more research is needed to advance more carefully informed policy solutions, building on the growing literature in the area, our results reveal acute confluence of human population pressures to climate change in areas of high biodiversity priority, such as Eastern Africa, Himalaya, Western Ghats, and Sri Lanka, suggesting opportunities for economic, health, policy, and healthcare sectors to synergize targeted efforts towards ameliorating coupled human and planetary health and wellbeing in areas of high priority for both.