Places for a
Half-Earth Future

Half-Earth is a call to protect half the land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity. Places for a Half-Earth Future has been created to honor the conservation efforts that are contributing to this transformational goal for our planet.

Places for a Half-Earth Future showcases the most essential places in the world for biodiversity based on the science of the Half-Earth Project, promoting the research and education activities that are inspiring their successful conservation, and building a shared vision for what must be conserved to ensure that no species are left behind. Through these efforts, we aim to provide transformative scientific leadership and inspire informed collective action to save the biosphere.

What kinds of places are Places for a Half-Earth Future?
Places for a Half-Earth Future include sites on land and sea identified by the science of the Half-Earth Project;

  • Places of extraordinary biodiversity richness or rarity, that are largely unprotected
  • With communities pursuing conservation and scientific activities contributing to a Half-Earth future, or
  • Have established an area that is being managed for biodiversity conservation outcomes.

Examples include:

  • Sites where scientific monitoring and inventory of species is needed to better understand and support the management of these places.
  • Places using innovative conservation technologies and fostering responsible stewardship.
  • Ecosystems or habitats that provide uniquely important biophilic refuges for people and communities.

What does it mean to be one of the Places for a Half-Earth Future?
Places for a Half-Earth Future are recognized for their unique and important contributions to a Half-Earth future. Their research and conservation best practices are showcased by the Half-Earth Project. Communities working in support of Places for a Half-Earth Future use their network and affiliations with Half-Earth to drive interest in their work as it supports the goal of leaving no species behind.

Where are Places for a Half-Earth Future identified?

The Half-Earth Project Map features Places as part of our outreach and programming. In the National Report Cards, the Places for a Half-Earth Future layer show up to 20 regions in each country that would benefit from additional conservation action. These areas can serve as important starting places because they comprise the top 10% of each country’s priority areas. Priority rankings are results from a global conservation planning model that minimizes the amount of additional land needed to protect a sufficient amount of habitat for terrestrial vertebrate species. This model also minimizes the amount of human pressures within the species habitat wherever possible, so that more intact habitat is prioritized over habitat in need of restoration.

Further, stories about Places in the media, social media, and our channels share and communicate research findings, methods, results and news with the conservation community, including through peer-reviewed and other publications.

At the Crossroads: Biodiversity, Civil Rights, and Science Education from the Black Belt to Paint Rock, a recent webinar about biologically and culturally rich areas in Alabama, exemplify the stories showcased through the Places for a Half-Earth Future program to advance protection of the area as well as stewardship and leadership initiatives that contribute to the goal of Half-Earth.

How can Places for a Half-Earth Future benefit my conservation efforts?
Places for a Half-Earth Future brings diverse stakeholders together to create opportunities for interconnection, expanding habitat and migration routes and improving the health of species populations, while providing examples and inspiration for anyone interested in contributing to a Half-Earth future. In turn, Places benefit from the findings, resources and enhanced visibility provided by the Half-Earth Project, in particular the Half-Earth Map, as well as opportunities for networking and public engagement.

Places for a Half-Earth Future

  • Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

    Gorongosa National Park is one of the world’s great biodiversity restoration stories. The 1500 square mile park in Mozambique’s Sofala province has expansion plans that will increase its lands to nearly that of Serengeti National Park. Dr. Piotr Naskrecki, Scientific Chair of the Half-Earth Project and Executive Director of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory guides the research at this important Place, often visited by E.O. Wilson, and the subject of his book A Window on Eternity.

    Important features of the park supporting a Half-Earth Future include:

    • Establishment of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Lab supporting the training of Mozambican scientists, as well as biodiversity researchers throughout Southern Africa and the world.
    • Establishment of the Half-Earth Project Fellowship in Taxonomy and Biodiversity Exploration.
    • Focused biodiversity inventories based on expeditions in diverse habitats of the park.
    • Home to a particular richness of diverse and rare species.
    • Exemplary community engagement, including social service provisions such as schooling and healthcare.
    • Creative and highly active communications strategies and data sharing. 
  • FORAGUA, Southern Ecuador

    Jungle Stream Ecuador

    FORAGUA was formed in July 2009 as a mechanism for municipal governments to fund and implement conservation and restoration of watersheds in southern Ecuador by Nature and Culture International. Water shortages plague many cities and towns across southern Ecuador because of rapid population growth. Climate change causing both droughts and floods along with poor forest management where water supplies originate has exacerbated the problem. Forests act like sponges, retaining and slowly releasing water for an even supply throughout the year. Agricultural expansion and other land-use changes have resulted in significant deforestation, reducing water quantity and quality. Currently nine local municipalities are part of the fund in this region with a water deficit of nearly 80%. FORAGUA recently received $500,000 received in an agreement with the Ecuadorian National Secretariat of Water (SENAGUA). The grant is earmarked for reforestation and restoration of native vegetation on 2,500 acres critical to the protection of water resources for several regional cities including Alamor, Celica, Loja, Macara, Pindal, and Zumba. 

    Ordinances have created more than 86,000 acres of municipal reserves that protect water resources for human populations and preserve the unique ecosystems of the region. Activities by the municipalities include:

    • reforestation
    • natural forest regeneration
    • compensation for environmental services
    • purchase of properties in watersheds to be dedicated to conservation
    • incentives for landowners to conserve and the declaration of municipal reserves
  • Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania

    Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP), an award-winning private nature reserve that was developed from 1991 for the conservation and sustainable management of uninhabited Chumbe Island off Zanzibar, has been named a Place for a Half-Earth Future. (

    A member of The Long Run – a membership organization of nature-based tourism businesses committed to driving sustainability and a recognized Community for a Half-Earth Future – Chumbe Island is a unique, privately managed nature reserve. To establish the conservation value of the reserve, baseline surveys were conducted at the start of the project, and regular and thorough monitoring of the Chumbe marine and terrestrial ecosystems have since been carried out to ensure an adaptive management approach.

    The overall aim of CHICOP is to create a model of financially and ecologically sustainable park management, where ecotourism supports conservation, research and comprehensive Environmental Education programs for local schools and other benefits for local people. 

  • Paint Rock Forest, Alabama

    The Southern Cumberlands Plateau and Ridge and Valley systems of Alabama shelter the greatest diversity of tree species and aquatic life in the Appalachians. Paint Rock Valley supports almost double the oak species found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Moderate elevation, isolation from glacial impacts, and diverse topography and soils helped buffer life from climate extremes.

    The Nature Conservancy’s Sharp Bingham Preserve is an outstanding example of the region’s diversity and long-term climate resilience. Within a few thousand acres, complex topography and hydrology support an unusually diverse and intact forest. High diversity of species, genera and families and numerous relictual species indicate its long-term importance as a climate refugium.

    Paint Rock’s distinctive landscape also offers what may be a unique opportunity to study and understand every aspect of the ecosystem, from its surprisingly undisturbed forests and soils, down through the extensive network of caves and underground streams that feed the Paint Rock River itself, one of the most biologically rich streams in the nation.

    Research here may well help determine the future of North American forests. Under the direction of Bill Finch, Executive Director, and Principal Conservation Science Advisor to the Half-Earth Project, Paint Rock Forest Research Center, is using this site to train a new generation of scientists who not only understand biodiversity, but also reflect the area’s ethnic diversity as well. As part of a special program to encourage minority student participation in cutting-edge scientific research, Smithsonian is partnering with Alabama A&M University to set up and monitor the forest research plots.

    Scientists from UCLA and Alabama universities are partnering with the Smithsonian Institute’s ForestGEO program, The Nature Conservancy and other research centers to set up a massive natural laboratory covering hundreds of acres. With a ten acre campus and a large lodge the travel time for scientists to the field is short.