More than two years in development, the Global Safety Net is the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth’s land. The report was published in Science Advances and highlights the importance of protecting and restoring the natural world to address three converging crises — climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the emergence of novel viruses such as COVID-19.
Nature is key to rebalancing our global climate system and ensuring a vibrant future for all.
Ecosystems absorb carbon from the atmosphere and produce the essentials for life on our planet — fresh water, clean air, and healthy soil.
Intact natural lands also help to prevent viral outbreaks like COVID-19. Tragically, in the past fifty years, we’ve lost half of our natural land, destroying two-thirds of all living creatures on Earth.
We must reverse the damage, and we can, by creating the Global Safety Net — a network of land areas that are vital for nature and humanity.
The Global Safety Net is the first comprehensive estimate of the total land area requiring protection to solve the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change.
There are 6 main layers that make up the Global Safety Net:
First, are areas already protected by governments, totaling 15% of the planet’s land.
Second, are species rarity sites. These are additional areas that need to be protected immediately, before rare animals and plants are lost forever.
Third are high biodiversity areas — groupings of plants and animals that are vital to maintaining our ecosystems.
Fourth, are large mammal landscapes, like the Pantanal wetlands in Western Brazil, home to the world's largest jaguars.
Fifth, are areas with a large extent of intact wilderness — continuous forests, shrublands, and grasslands.
Sixth, are land areas that provide additional carbon absorption and storage, helping to stabilize our global climate system.
The Global Safety Net also incorporates an analysis of potential wildlife corridors — areas of degraded land that can be restored to connect ecosystems back together, allowing nature to be more resilient as the Earth warms.
Taken together, the layers of the Global Safety Net total approximately 50% of the world’s land, offering a blueprint to restore our biosphere — helping to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius and providing the ecosystem services vital to our survival.
Over 1/3 of these lands are communally held by Indigenous Peoples, which demonstrates the importance of safeguarding territorial rights for these communities.
You can explore the Global Safety Net through a new web application, which displays how every country and region can contribute in different ways towards this common goal.
Visit GSNapp.org to learn more about your region and how it can contribute towards securing a world in which nature and humanity coexist and thrive together.