“Unless humanity learns a great deal more about global biodiversity and moves quickly to protect it, we will soon lose most of the species composing life on Earth.” – E.O. Wilson

Why Half?

Why one-half? The crucial factor in the life and death of species is the amount of suitable habitat left to them. As defined by the theory of island biogeography, a change in area of a habitat results in a change in the sustainable number of species by approximately the fourth root. As reserves grow in size, the diversity of life surviving within them also grows. As reserves are reduced in area, the diversity within them declines to a mathematically predictable degree swiftly – often immediately and, for a large fraction, forever.

When 90% of habitat is removed, the number of species that can persist sustainably will descend to about a half. Such is the actual condition of many of the most species-rich localities around the world. In these places, if 10% of the remaining natural habitat were then also removed, most or all of the surviving resident species would disappear.

If, on the other hand, we protect half the global surface, the fraction of species protected will be 85%, or more. At one-half and above, life on Earth enters the safe zone.

 

Which Half?

Half-Earth is a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. Advances in technology now allow us to comprehensively map the geospatial location and distribution of the species of our planet at high enough resolution to drive decision-making about where we have the best opportunity to protect the most species. This is the work of the Half-Earth Project.

Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight for Life by E.O. Wilson

How?

So how do we do this? How do we make caring for the rest of life part of our common humanity and the way we live our lives?

The Half-Earth Project brings together deep scientific research, experienced leadership and inspirational engagement as never collaboratively convened before, creating fresh goal-driven energy where existing efforts are losing ground. It addresses gaps in our current approach to our shared species extinction crisis and all of the cascading effects, and creates a compelling campaign for re-invigorated action.

Research

The Half-Earth Project is championing research to better understand our world, support conservation efforts, nurture future biodiversity stewardship, and perpetuate conservation efforts worldwide. We are working continuously to discover and identify our planet’s species and support regional biodiversity research and scholarship.

Lead

The Half-Earth Map is providing leadership to inform the identification of which places we can best manage for conservation in order to protect the most species. The Knowledge Platform is fostering greater understanding and action about how we can get to Half-Earth. Model conservation efforts are also showcased to inspire and inform best practices to get to Half-Earth.

Engage

The Half-Earth Project is engaging people everywhere to join us and participate broadly to achieve the goal of Half-Earth. We are tracking progress towards the goal of Half-Earth as an inspiring moonshot we can all work together to reach.

Half-Earth Project Initiatives

Half-Earth Map

One key question of the Half-Earth Project is “Which Half?” The Half-Earth Project is mapping the species of the Earth so we know where we have the opportunity to protect the most species. The Half-Earth Map combines species data and sophisticated data analysis with cutting-edge graphic communications expertise to guide conservation efforts and engage people in where these places are and why they are special.

Global Biodiversity Census

The Global Biodiversity Census initiative is exploring, discovering, describing and classifying the species of our planet. This information is critical to the development of a more comprehensive understanding of our world. By supporting and promoting model comprehensive biodiversity inventory activities, the Half-Earth Project is working to guide and inform conservation efforts that help to safeguard species.

Model Conservation Efforts

The Half-Earth Project is showcasing and supporting model conservation and species restoration efforts, using their inspiring stories to engage support and provide a model for similar conservation efforts throughout the world.

Click on the logos to learn about the Half-Earth Project’s Model Conservation Effort organizations, including blogs and videos about their research efforts, their latest milestones, and their progress in leading the way to Half-Earth.

Half-Earth Chairs & Scholars

The Half-Earth Chairs and Scholars program will champion biodiversity research and nurture scholarship that helps us understand our world and how to best care for it. This program will help create the next generation of conservation scientists, support local and regional biodiversity research, mentor scholars and next generation stewards, and provide regionally relevant expertise that perpetuates conservation efforts worldwide.

Half-Earth Chairs are biodiversity researchers who have unique insight into the socio-economic needs and conservation priorities of their region. Based at universities in regions around the world, they provide a global footprint of scientific leadership for how we can best study, preserve and protect the biodiversity of our planet. Following their term, each Chair will become a permanent member of the Half-Earth Council. 

In order to seed and nurture next-generation science and stewardship worldwide, the Half-Earth Scholars program will support early career biodiversity research scientists. Scholars will be mentored by the Half-Earth Chairs and provided with the unique opportunity to engage with leading biodiversity researchers as they convene to support the goal of Half-Earth. Scholars will be selected from a global pool of qualified applicants.

Coming soon.

Public Engagement

In order to reach a broad audience, the Half-Earth Project creates a transformative experience for a variety of audiences around the need to care for the rest of our planet, seeding a movement culture that supports the goal of Half-Earth.

Knowledge Platform

We will create and curate a dynamic online Knowledge Platform of maps, literature, white papers, policy papers, video and best practices that foster greater understanding and action to protect half the planet.

  • Maps
  • Literature
  • White Papers
  • Policy Papers
  • Video
  • Best Practices

The Half-Earth Council

The Half-Earth Council is composed of thought-leaders across the wide-ranging fields of expertise necessary to comprehensively address the extinction crisis and support a movement culture that works to protect half the Earth for the rest of life. The Half-Earth Council has scientific leadership at its core. Members of the Council include population, sustainability and restoration specialists; public and private conservation leaders; indigenous peoples advocates; biodiversity-minded economists; business engagement experts, creative media producers and celebrity icons.

  • LEAD SCIENTIST
    E.O. Wilson
  • CORE SCIENTISTS
    Half-Earth Chairs
  • RESTORATION
    Greg Carr

    Gorongosa Restoration Project

  • PRIVATE/PUBLIC CONSERVATION
    Kris Tompkins

    Tompkins Conservation

  • SCIENCE COMMUNICATION
    Sean B. Carroll

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute,
    University of Wisconsin

  • PRIVATE CONSERVATION, ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
    Laura Turner Seydel

    Turner Foundation, Captain Planet

  • ECONOMICS
    Jeff Sachs

    UN SDSN, Earth Institute
    Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University

  • GLOBAL FOOTPRINT
    Mathis Wackernagel

    Global Footprint Network

  • POPULATION
    John Seager

    Population Connection

  • INDIGINOUS PEOPLES
    Robin Kimmerer

    SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

  • RESTORATION
    Mike Phillips

    Turner Endangered Species Fund

  • FILM/MEDIA
    Louie Psihoyos

    Oceanic Preservation Society

  • BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
    Tom Lovejoy

    UN Foundation, George Mason

  • OCEANS
    Sylvia Earle

    Mission Blue

  • PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
    Paul Simon

    Musician, Singer-Songwriter, Actor

Through cutting-edge technology, we’re mapping the global web of biodiversity at unprecedented resolution and providing scientific leaders and actionable guidance for conservation to achieve the goal of Half-Earth.