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More than 700 threatened species remain completely unprotected, new study shows

September 11, 2003 (Durban, South Africa) At least 223 bird, 140 mammal and 346 amphibian species threatened with extinction currently have no protection whatsoever over any part of their ranges, according to the most comprehensive analysis of its kind of the world's protected area system.

In addition, many existing protected areas are so small in size as to be virtually ineffective in conserving species, placing another 943, and probably many more bird, mammal and amphibian species, at risk. Without an immediate and strategic expansion of the protected area system, scientists expect a major wave of extinctions within the next few decades.

The "global gap analysis" provides an overview of how well the world's species are covered by the global network of protected areas. The study was released by the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International (CI) in a joint project with the IUCN-World Conservation Union's World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN/WCPA).

"This analysis clearly shows that there are severe gaps in the protected area system," said Gustavo Fonseca, CI's Executive Vice President for Programs and Science. "Nevertheless, by identifying the most urgent priorities that require protection and acting strategically and quickly, we still have a chance to save the vast majority of these species."

The analysis builds upon the work of thousands of scientists and dozens of institutions around the world. Based on their work, CABS scientists compared a map of all protected areas for which reliable information was available to maps of more than 11,000 species ranges from three species groups. They then identified places where species live without any protection, and analyzed where the highest priority gaps in protection existed. In total, 1,183 threatened bird species, and 4,734 mammal and 5,254 amphibian species, were included.

Tropical areas, specifically rainforests, and islands stood out as p
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