This year, the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity will meet to finalize a post 2020-framework for biodiversity conservation, necessitating critical analysis of current barriers to conservation success. Here, we tackle one of the enduring puzzles about the U.S. Endangered Species Act, often considered a model for endangered species protection globally: Why have so few species been successfully recovered? For the period of 1992–2020, we analyzed trends in the population sizes of species of concern, trends in the time between when species are first petitioned for listing and when they actually receive protection, and trends in funding for the listing and recovery of imperiled species. We find that small population sizes at time of listing, coupled with delayed protection and insufficient funding, continue to undermine one of the world’s strongest laws for protecting biodiversity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes