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Britain, Canada, EU throw weight behind 2030 biodiversity protection goal

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BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and Canada on Monday joined the European Union in pledging to protect 30% of their land and seas by 2030 to stem “catastrophic” biodiversity loss and help galvanise support for broader agreement on the target ahead of a U.N. summit.

FILE PHOTO: A bald eagle is pictured perched in a tree in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 15, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

With the twin crises of climate change and wildlife loss accelerating, leaders are trying to build momentum ahead of the meeting in Kunming, China, in May, where nearly 200 countries will negotiate a new agreement on protecting nature.

“We must act now – right now. We cannot afford dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate. Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

“Extinction is forever – so our action must be immediate.”

Without action, 30% to 50% of all species could be lost by 2050, threatening economic and social prosperity, a report by The Nature Conservancy charity this month said. For example, losing bees, butterflies and other pollinators could cause a drop in annual agricultural output worth $217 billion.

Scientists have said a minimum of 30% of the planet must be safeguarded, through protected areas and conservation. A draft of the Kunming agreement includes this pledge.

While Monday’s pledges did not detail specific actions nor funding plans, protected areas are usually managed to ensure the long-term conservation of nature. This can mean curbing or banning commercial or extraction activities, ensuring unspoiled natural areas remain unspoiled, or restoring and maintaining ecosystems such as forests and wetlands.

“We have both the responsibility and the opportunity. We have the second largest land mass,