General Patterns of Development Risks for the Earth’s Biomes
Biomes are large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat. We examined potential conversion at this generalize level to help understand the stresses placed on these communities. We found that currently, 21% of all biomes have half of their natural habitats converted and 57% have more than a quarter converted. Future development could lead to half of the world’s biomes having more than 50% of their natural habitats converted, and all biomes (with the exception of Boreal Forests and Tundra) with over 25% of their natural lands at risk of conversion.
While development risk is highly dispersed globally, potential impacts are disproportionally borne by three biomes that contain 66% of delineated at-risk natural areas: Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands (5.98 million km2); Deserts and Xeric Shrublands (3.74 million km2); and Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests (3.4 million km2). Accounting for current and potential future development, three biomes could become predominantly human-modified: Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests (83%), Mangroves (72%), and Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests (71%).