Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organizations involved. Generally speaking though, protected areas are understood to be those in which human presence or at least the exploitation of natural resources (e.g. firewood, non-timber forest products, water, ...) is limited.
The term "protected area" also includes marine protected areas, the boundaries of which will include some area of ocean, and transboundary protected areas that overlap multiple countries which remove the borders inside the area for conservation and economic purposes. There are over 161,000 protected areas in the world (as of October 2010)with more added daily, representing between 10 and 15 percent of the world's land surface area.
As of 2016, there are 14,688 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and approximately 14.7% of the world's terrestrial and inland water areas (excluding Antarctica) are protected.For waters under national jurisdiction beyond inland waters, approximately 10.2% of coastal and marine areas and 4.12% of global ocean areas are covered by marine protected areas. In contrast, only 0.25% of the world's oceans beyond national jurisdiction are covered by MPAs. Through the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the European Union targets to protect 30% of the sea territory and 30% of the land territory by 2030. Also, Campaign for Nature's 30x30 for Nature Petition tries to let governments agree to the same goal during the Convention on Biodiversity COP15 Summit. has the same target.
Protected areas are essential for biodiversity conservation, often providing habitat and protection from hunting for threatened and endangered species. Protection helps maintain ecological processes that cannot survive in most intensely managed landscapes and seascapes.
The definition that has been widely accepted across regional and global frameworks has been provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its categorisation guidelines for protected areas.The definition is as follows:
A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
The objective of protected areas is to conserve biodiversity and to provide a way for measuring the progress of such conservation. Protected areas will usually encompass several other zones that have been deemed important for particular conservation uses, such as Important Bird Areas (IBA) and Endemic Bird Areas (EBA), Centres of Plant Diversity (CPD), Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA), Alliance for Zero Extinction Sites (AZE) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) among others. Likewise, a protected area or an entire network of protected areas may lie within a larger geographic zone that is recognised as a terrestrial or marine ecoregions (see Global 200), or a crisis ecoregions for example.As a result, Protected Areas can encompass a broad range of governance types. A wide variety of rights-holders and stakeholders are involved in the governance and management of protected areas, including forest protected areas, such as government agencies and ministries at various levels, elected and traditional authorities, indigenous peoples and local communities, private individuals and non-profit trusts, among others. Most protected-area and forest management institutions acknowledge the importance of recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, sharing the costs and benefits of protected areas and actively involving them in their governance and management. This has led to the recognition of four main types of governance, defined on the basis of who holds authority, responsibility, and who can be held accountable for the key decisions for protected areas. Indeed, governance of protected areas has emerged a critical factor in their success.
Subsequently, the range of natural resources that any one protected area may guard is vast. Many will be allocated primarily for species conservation whether it be flora or fauna or the relationship between them, but protected areas are similarly important for conserving sites of (indigenous) cultural importance and considerable reserves of natural resources such as;
Annual updates on each of these analyses are made in order to make comparisons to the Millennium Development Goals and several other fields of analysis are expected to be introduced in the monitoring of protected areas management effectiveness, such as freshwater and marine or coastal studies which are currently underway, and islands and drylands which are currently in planning.
Through its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), the IUCN has developed six Protected Area Management Categories that define protected areas according to their management objectives, which are internationally recognised by various national governments and the United Nations.The categories provide international standards for defining protected areas and encourage conservation planning according to their management aims.
IUCN Protected Area Management Categories:
Protected areas are cultural artifacts, and their story is entwined with that of human civilization. Protecting places and resources is by no means a modern concept, whether it be indigenous communities guarding sacred sites or the convention of European hunting reserves. Over 2000 years ago, royal decrees in India protected certain areas. In Europe, rich and powerful people protected hunting grounds for a thousand years. Moreover, the idea of protection of special places is universal: for example, it occurs among the communities in the Pacific ("tapu" areas) and in parts of Africa (sacred groves).
The oldest legally protected reserve recorded in history is the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, established by an ordinance dated 13 April 1776.Other sources mention the 1778 approval of a protected area on then-Khan Uul, a mountain previous protected by local nomads for centuries in Mongolia, by then-ruling Qing China Tenger Tetgegch Khaan. However, the mass protected areas movement did not begin until late nineteenth-century in North America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, when other countries were quick to follow suit. While the idea of protected areas spread around the world in the twentieth century, the driving force was different in different regions. Thus, in North America, protected areas were about safeguarding dramatic and sublime scenery; in Africa, the concern was with game parks; in Europe, landscape protection was more common.
The designation of protected areas often also contained a political statement. In the 17th and 18th centuries, protected areas were mostly hunting grounds of rulers and thus, on the one hand, an expression of the absolute personal authority of a monarch, and on the other hand, they were concentrated in certain places and diminished with increasing spatial distance from the seat of power. In the late 19th century, modern territorial states emerged which, thanks to the transport and communication technologies of industrialisation and the closely meshed and well-connected administrative apparatus that came with it, could actually assert claims to power over large contiguous territories. The establishment of nature reserves in mostly peripheral regions thus became possible and at the same time underpinned the new state claim to power.
Initially, protected areas were recognised on a national scale, differing from country to country until 1933, when an effort to reach an international consensus on the standards and terminology of protected areas took place at the International Conference for the Protection of Fauna and Flora in London.At the 1962 First World Conference on National Parks in Seattle the effect the Industrial Revolution had had on the world's natural environment was acknowledged, and the need to preserve it for future generations was established.
Since then, it has been an international commitment on behalf of both governments and non-government organisations to maintain the networks that hold regular revisions for the succinct categorisations that have been developed to regulate and record protected areas. In 1972, the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment endorsed the protection of representative examples of all major ecosystem types as a fundamental requirement of national conservation programmes. This has become a core principle of conservation biology and has remained so in recent resolutions - including the World Charter for Nature in 1982, the Rio Declaration at the Earth Summit in 1992, and the Johannesburg Declaration 2002.
Recently, the importance of protected areas has been brought to the fore at the threat of human-induced global warming and the understanding of the necessity to consume natural resources in a sustainable manner. The spectrum of benefits and values of protected areas is recognised not only ecologically, but culturally through further development in the arena of Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs). International programmes for the protection of representative ecosystems remain relatively progressive (considering the environmental challenges of globalisation with respect to terrestrial environments), with less advances in marine and freshwater biomes.
How to manage areas protected for conservation brings up a range of challenges- whether it be regarding the local population, specific ecosystems or the design of the reserve itself - and because of the many unpredicatable elements in ecology issues, each protected area requires a case-specific set of guidelines.
Enforcing protected area boundaries is a costly and labour-heavy endeavour, particularly if the allocation of a new protected region places new restrictions on the use of resources by the native people which may lead to their subsequent displacement.This has troubled relationships between conservationists and rural communities in many protected regions and is often why many Wildlife Reserves and National Parks face the human threat of poaching for the illegal bushmeat or trophy trades, which are resorted to as an alternative form of substinence.
There is increasing pressure to take proper account of human needs when setting up protected areas and these sometimes have to be "traded off" against conservation needs. Whereas in the past governments often made decisions about protected areas and informed local people afterwards, today the emphasis is shifting towards greater discussions with stakeholders and joint decisions about how such lands should be set aside and managed. Such negotiations are never easy but usually produce stronger and longer-lasting results for both conservation and people.
Protected areas in many cases are in close cohesion with municipalities and require specific performance management leading both to sustainability from one side and regional development from the other. Administrations of protected areas are more targeted towards the protection of nature and ecosystems while municipalities are responsible for the social and economic development of a particular local community.
In some countries, protected areas can be assigned without the infrastructure and networking needed to substitute consumable resources and subtantiatively protect the area from development or misuse. The soliciting of protected areas may require regulation to the level of meeting demands for food, feed, livestock and fuel, and the legal enforcement of not only the protected area itself but also 'buffer zones' surrounding it, which may help to resist destabilisation.
Protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement(PADDD)
Protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) events are processes that change the legal status of national parks and other protected areas in both terrestrial and marine environments.Downgrading is a decrease in legal restrictions on human activities within a protected area, downsizing is a decrease in protected area size through a legal boundary change, and degazettement is the loss of legal protection for an entire protected area. Collectively, PADDD represents legal processes that temper regulations, shrink boundaries, or eliminate legal protections originally associated with establishment of a protected area.
Scientific publications have identified 3,749 enacted PADDD events in 73 countries since 1892 which have collectively impacted an area approximately the size of Mexico.PADDD is a historical and contemporary phenomenon. 78% of PADDD events worldwide were enacted since 2000 and governments in at least 14 countries are currently considering at least 46 PADDD proposals. Proximate causes of PADDD vary widely but most PADDD events globally (62%) are related to industrial scale resource extraction and development - infrastructure, industrial agriculture, mining, oil and gas, forestry, fisheries, and industrialization.
PADDD challenges the longstanding assumption that protected areas are permanent fixtures and highlights the need for decision-makers to consider protected area characteristics and the socioeconomic context in which they are situated to better ensure their permanence.
One main concern regarding protected areas is how effectively they prevent ongoing loss of biodiversity. Multiple case studies point to positive effects on terrestrial and marine species, but the majority of protected areas are unrepresented. Limitations on protected areas include: their small size and isolation from each other (which influence the maintenance of species); their restricted role in preventing the many factors affecting biodiversity, such as climate change, invasive species, and pollution); their high costs; and their increasing conflict with human demands for nature's resources.
Protected areas play a large role in protecting important natural ecosystems and providing essential ecosystem services such as carbon storage and flood prevention.Scientists advocate that 50% of global land and seas be converted to inter-connected protected areas in order to sustain these benefits. The Asian country Bhutan achieved this high-reaching target by reserving 51.4% of the country’s area as protected areas interconnected through biological corridors. Although these networks are well regulated (local communities are aware of their importance and actively contribute to their maintenance), Bhutan is currently a developing country that is undergoing infrastructure development and resource collection. The country’s economic progression has brought about human-wildlife conflict and increased pressure on the existence of its protected areas. In light of ongoing disputes on the topic of optimal land usage, Dorji (et al.), in a study using camera traps to detect wildlife activity, summarize the results of a nationwide survey that compares the biodiversity of Bhutan’s protected areas versus that of intervening non-protected areas.
The study indicated that Bhutan’s protected areas "are effectively conserving medium and large mammal species, as demonstrated through the significant difference in mammal diversity between protected areas, biological corridors, and non-protected areas with the strongest difference between protected areas and non-protected areas".Protected areas had the highest levels of mammal biodiversity. This is made possible by the restriction of commercial activity and regulation of consumptive uses (firewood, timber, etc.). The regulation of such practices has allowed Bhutan’s protected areas to thrive with high carnivore diversity and other rare mammals such as Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, mountain weasel ( Mustela altaica), small-toothed ferret badger, Asian small clawed otter, the tiger, dhole (Cuon alpinus ), Binturong, clouded leopard and Tibetan fox ( Vulpes ferrilata). Also found to be prevalent were the large herbivore species: Asiatic water buffalo Bubalus arnee, golden langur, musk deer, and Asian elephant. The maintenance of these charismatic megafauna and other threatened species can be attributed to the intensity of Bhutan’s management of its protected areas and its local communities’ commitment to preserving them.
The National Heritage List is a heritage register, a list of national heritage places deemed to be of outstanding heritage significance to Australia, established in 2003. The list includes natural and historic places, including those of cultural significance to Indigenous Australians.Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are formed by agreement with Indigenous Australians, and declared by Indigenous Australians, and form a specific class of protected area.
Natura 2000 is a network of protected areas established by the European Union across all Member States. It is made up of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated respectively under the Habitats Directive and Birds Directive. 787,767 km2 (304,159 sq mi) are designated as terrestrial sites and 251,564 km2 (97,129 sq mi) as marine sites. Overall, 18 percent of the EU land mass is designated.
Protected areas of India include National parks, Wildlife sanctuaries, Biosphere reserves, Reserved and protected forests, Conservation and community reserves, Communal forests, Private protected areas and Conservation areas.
O Parks, Wildlife, and Recreation is a Private Protected Area, also known as a 'Private Reserve' predominantly managed for biodiversity conservation, protected without formal government recognition and is owned and stewarded by the O corporation International.O parks plays a particularly important role in conserving critical biodiversity in a section of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor known as the Paso del Istmo, located along the 12-mile-wide isthmus between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean.
As of 31 January 2008 [update] , according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the United States had a total of 6,770 terrestrial nationally designated (federal) protected areas. These protected areas cover 2,607,131 km2 (1,006,619 sq mi), or 27.08 percent of the land area of the United States. This is also one-tenth of the protected land area of the world.
On 21 May 2019, The Moscow Times cited a World Wildlife Fund report indicating that Russia now ranks first in the world for its amount of protected natural areaswith 63.3 million hectares of specially protected natural areas. However, the article did not contain a link to WWF's report and it may be based on previously gathered data.
Natural resources are resources that exist without any actions of humankind. This includes the sources of valued characteristics such as commercial and industrial use, aesthetic value, scientific interest and cultural value. On Earth, it includes sunlight, atmosphere, water, land, all minerals along with all vegetation, and animal life. Natural resources can be part of our natural heritage or protected in nature reserves.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. IUCN's mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable".
This is an index of conservation topics. It is an alphabetical index of articles relating to conservation biology and conservation of the natural environment.
Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an intergovernmental scientific program, launched in 1971 by UNESCO, that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.
Habitat conservation is a management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore habitats and prevent species extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.
Environmental protection is the practice of protecting the natural environment by individuals, organizations and governments. Its objectives are to conserve natural resources and the existing natural environment and, where possible, to repair damage and reverse trends.
Wilderness or wildlands, are natural environments on Earth that have not been significantly modified by human activity or any nonurbanized land not under extensive agricultural cultivation. The term has traditionally referred to terrestrial environments, though growing attention is being placed on marine wilderness. Recent maps of wilderness suggest it covers roughly one quarter of Earth's terrestrial surface, but is being rapidly degraded by human activity. Even less wilderness remains in the ocean, with only 13.2% free from intense human activity.
Marine protected areas (MPA) are protected areas of seas, oceans, estuaries or in the US, the Great Lakes. These marine areas can come in many forms ranging from wildlife refuges to research facilities. MPAs restrict human activity for a conservation purpose, typically to protect natural or cultural resources. Such marine resources are protected by local, state, territorial, native, regional, national, or international authorities and differ substantially among and between nations. This variation includes different limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings and bans on removing or disrupting marine life. In some situations, MPAs also provide revenue for countries, potentially equal to the income that they would have if they were to grant companies permissions to fish. The value of MPA to mobile species is unknown.
A biodiversity action plan (BAP) is an internationally recognized program addressing threatened species and habitats and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. The original impetus for these plans derives from the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As of 2009, 191 countries have ratified the CBD, but only a fraction of these have developed substantive BAP documents.
Papua New Guinea together with the West Papua region of Indonesia make up a major tropical wilderness area that still contains 5% of the original and untouched tropical high-biodiversity terrestrial ecosystems. PNG in itself contains over 5% of the world's biodiversity in less than 1% of the world's total land area. The flora of New Guinea is unique because it has two sources of origin; the Gondwana flora from the south and flora with Asian origin from the west. As a result, New Guinea shares major family and genera with Australia and the East Asia, but is rich in local endemic species. The endemicity is a result of mountainous isolation, topographic and soil habitat heterogeneity, high forest disturbance rates and abundant aseasonal rainfall year round. PNG boasts some 15–21,000 higher plants, 3,000 species of orchids, 800 species of coral, 600 species of fish, 250 species of mammals and 760 species of birds and 8 species of tree-kangaroos out of which 84 genera of animals are endemic. Ecosystems range from lowland forests to montane forests, alpine flora down to coastal areas which contains some of the most extensive pristine mangrove areas in the world. Much of this biodiversity has remained intact for thousands of years because the ruggedness of the terrain made the interior lands inaccessible; furthermore low population density and restrictions on the effectiveness of traditional tools, ensured that these biodiversity was never overexploited.
Mangrove ecosystems represent natural capital capable of producing a wide range of goods and services for coastal environments and communities and society as a whole. Some of these outputs, such as timber, are freely exchanged in formal markets. Value is determined in these markets through exchange and quantified in terms of price. Mangroves are important for aquatic life and home for many species of fish.
The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the largest assembly of data on the world's terrestrial and marine protected areas, containing more than 260,000 protected areas as of August 2020, with records covering 245 countries and territories throughout the world. The WDPA is a joint venture between the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Commission on Protected Areas.
Indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), or indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas, are spaces de facto governed by indigenous peoples or local communities with evidently positive outcomes for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity. In ICCAs, the continuation, revival or modification of traditional practices and/or new initiatives succeed in protecting and restoring natural resources and cultural values in the face of new threats or opportunities. Some ICCAs are situated in remote ecosystems that have had minimum human influence, while others encompass areas of various regulations and magnitudes within regions strongly affected or modified by human occupation. ICCAs may or may not fit the IUCN definition of “protected area” but, when they do, they can fall into any IUCN protected area categories.
IUCN protected area categories, or IUCN protected area management categories, are categories used to classify protected areas in a system developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
A strict nature reserve or wilderness area is the highest category of protected area recognised by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), a body which is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These category I areas are the most stringently protected natural landscapes.
Protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement(PADDD) events are processes that change the legal status of national parks and other protected areas in both terrestrial and marine environments. "Downgrading" is "a decrease in legal restrictions on the number, magnitude, or extent of human activities within a protected area ." "Downsizing" refers to a "decrease in size of a protected area as a result of excision of land or sea area through a legal boundary change." "Degazettement" is defined as a loss of legal protection for an entire national park or other protected area. Collectively, PADDD represents legal processes that temper regulations, shrink boundaries, or eliminate legal protections originally associated with establishment of a protected area.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) refers to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges. The challenges include issues such as climate change, water security, water pollution, food security, human health, biodiversity loss and disaster risk management.
The Global Peatlands Initiative is an effort made by leading experts and institutions formed in 2016 by 13 founding members at the UNFCCC COP in Marrakech, Morocco. The mission of the Initiative is to protect and conserve peatlands as the world's largest terrestrial organic carbon stock and to prevent it from being emitted into the atmosphere.
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