Looking beyond the fenceline: Assessing protection gaps for the world's rivers

Protected areas are a cornerstone strategy for terrestrial and increasingly marine biodiversity conservation, but their use for conserving inland waters has received comparatively scant attention. In 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) included a target of 17% protection for inland waters, yet there has been no meaningful way of measuring progress toward that target. Defining and evaluating “protection” is especially complicated for rivers because their integrity is intimately linked to impacts in their upstream catchments. A new generation of global hydrographic data now enables a high-resolution, standardized assessment of how upland activities may be propagated downstream. Here, we develop and apply, globally, a river protection metric that integrates both local and upstream catchment protection.

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