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Subnational assessment of threats to Indian biodiversity and habitat restoration opportunities

  • Chaudhary, Abhishek1
  • Mair, Louise2
  • Strassburg, Bernardo B N3
  • Brooks, Thomas M4, 5, 6
  • Menon, Vivek7
  • McGowan, Philip J K2
  • 1 Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, India , (India)
  • 2 Newcastle University, United Kingdom , (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Pontifical Catholic University, Brazil , (Brazil)
  • 4 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Switzerland , (Switzerland)
  • 5 University of the Philippiness, Philippines , (Philippines)
  • 6 University of Tasmania, Australia , (Australia)
  • 7 Wildlife Trust of India, India , (India)
Published Article
Environmental Research Letters
IOP Publishing
Publication Date
Apr 25, 2022
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac5d99
  • Letter


The active involvement of subnational authorities, cities and local governments has been identified as one of the enabling conditions to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Life on Land). However, there has not been any systematic application of any biodiversity metric at the subnational level to identify where the main responsibilities and opportunities lie within a country. Here, we therefore apply the recently proposed species threat abatement and restoration (STAR) metric for amphibians, birds and terrestrial mammals in 36 states and 666 districts of India, one of 17 megadiverse countries. The STAR metric takes into account the endemicity and the scope and severity of all threats affecting each species’ population hosted by the region and can quantify the potential contribution of threat mitigation and habitat restoration in a particular region towards global biodiversity goals. The larger the STAR metric score, the larger the contribution of a specified area for global species conservation. Out of 97 individual threats affecting species in India, we found that crop production is the major threat, contributing 44% of the total national STAR score followed by biological resource use such as hunting and logging (23%), and residential and commercial development (11%). Just seven out of 36 states and 66 out of 666 districts hosting high numbers of threatened and endemic species contribute 80% to the national STAR score. Importantly, the states and districts with most potential to contribute to threat abatement do not always overlap with those where habitat restoration will yield high benefits. Our analysis demonstrates the applicability and value of the STAR metric to subnational governments for biodiversity conservation elsewhere in the world.

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