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International targets set for reducing the rate of biodiversity loss--the 2010 target--and ensuring environmental stability (Millennium Development Goals) have helped to focus the efforts of the scientific community on providing the data necessary for their implementation. The urgency of these goals, coupled with the increased rate of habitat alteration worldwide, has meant that actions have largely not taken into account the increasing body of data about the biodiversity change in the past. We know a lot about how our planet has been altered and recovered in the past, both in deep time and through prehistory. Linking this knowledge to conservation action has not been widely practised, by either the palaeoecology or the conservation communities. Long-term data, however, have much to offer current conservation practice, and in the papers for this volume we have tried to bring together a variety of different perspectives as to how this might happen in the most effective way. We also identify areas for productive collaboration and some key synergies for work in the near future to enable our knowledge of the past to be used for conservation action in the here and now. Lateral thinking, across knowledge systems and with open-mindness about bridging data gaps, will be necessary for our accumulating knowledge about our planet's past to be brought to bear on our attempts to conserve it in the future.

Original publication




Journal article


Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci

Publication Date





169 - 174


Biodiversity, Biological Evolution, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ecology, Research Design, Time Factors