“How much is enough?” is a question that conservationists, scientists, and policymakers have struggled with for years in conservation planning. To answer this question, and to ensure the long-term protection of biodiversity, many have sought to establish quantitative targets or goals based on the percentage of area in a country or region that is conserved. In recent years, policy-driven targets have frequently been faulted for their lack of biological foundation. In this manuscript, we reviewed 159 articles reporting or proposing 222 conservation targets and assessed differences between policy-driven and evidence-based approaches. Our findings suggest that the average percentages of area recommended for evidence-based targets were nearly three times as high as those recommended in policy-driven approaches. Implementing a minimalist, policy-driven approach to conservation could result in unanticipated decreases in species numbers and increases in the number of endangered species.
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