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Key Biodiversity Areas are proving useful for spatial planning if the criteria are applied correctly

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Key Biodiversity Area (KBAs) are sites of significance for the global persistence of biodiversity, identified nationally using criteria and thresholds developed through extensive consultation and testing (IUCN, 2016). KBAs currently cover 8.01% of the terrestrial and 2.49% of the marine surface of the earth, but Farooq et al. (2023) predicted that comprehensive application of the criteria would lead to a blanket coverage of KBAs across the world. Their analysis employed rasterised terrestrial species’ range data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened species for 64,110 species to identify grid cells that could potentially qualify as KBAs based on the occurrence of one or more species, using the thresholds under KBA criterion A1 (threatened species), and B1 (geographically restricted species). Unfortunately, their analysis has several shortcomings that mean that their conclusion is not warranted.

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