By Olivia Boyd
In 1995, faced with severely depleted fish stocks, the Mexican village of Cabo Pulmo decided to abandon its nets and campaign to establish a “no-take” marine reserve. Decades of overfishing had all but emptied the once-thriving coral reef of the colorful shoals the Sea of Cortez was renowned for, and the community feared for the future.
Fifteen years later, its waters were again teeming with life. A 2009 study found fish biomass had increased by 463%, to a level similar to that of reefs that have never been fished.
“We know from many studies all around the world that when we give space to nature, she comes back spectacularly,” said Enric Sala, explorer in residence at National Geographic. “And we know that when nature comes back, all the services that nature provides for us come back too.”
Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson proposed setting aside 50% of the planet for nature in his 2016 book, “Half Earth.” But is protecting half of the planet doable?
Success in habitat protection will depend on governments looking beyond the “easy metric” of area to the harder one of effective management.