Protected area

Protected area

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Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/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 organisations involved. The term "protected area" also includes Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

s, the boundaries of which will include some area of ocean. There are over 161,000 protected areas in the world (as of October 2010) with more added daily, representing over 13 percent of the world's land surface area. By contrast, only 1.17% of the world's oceans is included in the world's ~6,800 Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

s.

Protected areas are essential for biodiversity conservation. They are the cornerstones of virtually all national and international conservation strategies. They are areas set aside to maintain functioning natural ecosystems, to act as refuges for species and to maintain ecological processes that cannot survive in most intensely managed landscapes and seascapes. Protected areas act as benchmarks against which we understand human interactions with the natural world. Today they are often the only hope we have of stopping many threatened or endemic species from becoming extinct.


Definition


Generally, protected areas are understood to be those in which human occupation or at least the exploitation of resources is limited. 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."

Protection of Natural Resources


Protected areas are designated with the objective of conserving biodiversity and providing an indicator for that conservation's progress, but the extent to which they defend resources and and ecosystem dynamics from degredation are slightly more complex. 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
Centres of Plant Diversity
Centres of Plant Diversity was established in 1998 as a joint classification initiative between the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature intended to identify the areas in the world that are of the highest conservation value in terms of protecting the...

 (CBD), Indigenous and Community Conserved Area
Indigenous and Community Conserved Area
Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas are areas in which there are close associations between indigenous people or a local community and a specific territory or body of natural resources...

s (ICCA), Alliance for Zero Extinction Sites
Alliance for Zero Extinction
The Alliance for Zero Extinction is a global alliance of membership organisations created in 2003 to prevent the extinction of species and the destruction of natural habitats....

 (AZE) and Key Biodiversity Areas
Key Biodiversity Areas
Key Biodiversity Areas are a way of identifying areas of international importance in terms of biodiversity conservation using globally standardised criteria. KBAs extend the Important Bird Area concept to other taxonomic groups and are now being identified in many parts of the world, by a range...

 (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
Global 200
The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by the World Wildlife Fund as priorities for conservation. According to the WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their...

), or a crisis ecoregions
Crisis Ecoregions
Crisis ecoregions are terrestrial biomes facing significant threat to their biodiversity and requiring well directed conservation efforts in order to curb the irreversible loss of plant and animal species and their surrounding habitats...

 for example.

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 cultural or indigenous importance, and considerable reserves of natural resources, such as;
  • Carbon Stocks: Carbon emissions from deforestation account for an estimated 20% of global carbon emissions, so in protecting the worlds carbon stocks greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and longterm land cover change is prevented, which is an effective strategy in the struggle against global warming. Of all global terrestrial carbon stock, 15.2% is contained within protected areas. Protected areas in South America hold 27% of the world's carbon stock, which is the highest percentage of any country in both absolute terms and as a proportion of the total stock.

  • Rainforests: 18.8% of the world's forest is covered by protected areas and sixteen of the twenty forest types have 10% or more protected area coverage. Of the 670 ecoregions with forest cover, 54% have 10% or more of their forest cover protected under IUCN Categories I – VI.

  • Mountains: Nationally designated protected areas cover 14.3% of the world’s mountain areas, and these mountainous protected areas made up 32.5% of the world’s total terrestrial protected area coverage in 2009. Mountain protected area coverage has increased globally by 21% since 1990 and out of the 198 countries with mountain areas, 43.9% still have less than 10% of their mountain areas protected.


Annual updates on each of these analyses are made in order to make comparisons to the Millenium 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.

IUCN Protected Area Management Categories


Through its World Commission on Protected Areas
World Commission on Protected Areas
The World Commission on Protected Areas is one of six Commissions of the IUCN . WCPA is the world's premier network of protected area expertise...

 (WCPA), IUCN have developed six Protected Area Management Categories
IUCN Protected Area Management Categories
The enlisting of protected areas is the fundamental strategy being used towards the conservation of the world's natural environment and biodiversity...

 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.

History


Protected areas are cultural artifacts and their story is entwined with that of human civilization. Protecting places and resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 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
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 protected certain areas. In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, 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
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 (sacred groves). However, the modern protected areas movement had nineteenth century origins in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. 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
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, protected areas were about safeguarding dramatic and sublime scenery; in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, the concern was with game parks; in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, landscape protection was more common.

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
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 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
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16, 1972...

 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
World Charter for Nature
World Charter for Nature was adopted by United Nations member nation-states on October 28, 1982. It proclaims five "principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged." The vote was 111 for, one against , 18 abstentions.- See also :* Declaration of...

 in 1982, the Rio Declaration at the Earth Summit
Earth Summit
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development , also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 June to 14 June 1992.-Overview:...

 in 1992, and the Johannesburg Declaration
Johannesburg Declaration
The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development was adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development , sometimes referred to as Earth Summit 2002, at which the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development was also agreed upon.The Johannesburg Declaration...

 2002.

Recently, the importance of protected areas has been brought to the fore at the threat of human-induced global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 and the understanding of the necessity to consume natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 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 ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s remain relatively progressive (considering the environmental challenges of globalisation with respect to terrestrial environments), with less advances in marine and freshwater biome
Biome
Biomes are climatically and geographically defined as similar climatic conditions on the Earth, such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms, and are often referred to as ecosystems. Some parts of the earth have more or less the same kind of abiotic and biotic factors spread over a...

s.


Challenges


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 is resorted to as an alternative form of substinence.

There is increasing and justifiable 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.

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.

See also

  • Marine Protected Area
    Marine Protected Area
    Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

  • IUCN Protected Area Management Categories
    IUCN Protected Area Management Categories
    The enlisting of protected areas is the fundamental strategy being used towards the conservation of the world's natural environment and biodiversity...

  • World Database on Protected Areas
    World Database on Protected Areas
    The World Database on Protected Areas is the largest assembly of data on the world's terrestrial and marine protected areas, containing more than 161,000 protected areas as of October 2010, with records covering 236 countries and territories throughout the world...

  • World Commission on Protected Areas
    World Commission on Protected Areas
    The World Commission on Protected Areas is one of six Commissions of the IUCN . WCPA is the world's premier network of protected area expertise...

  • Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas
  • Biodiversity Hotspots
  • Last of the Wild
    Last of the Wild
    Last of the Wild is an initiative created in 2002 on behalf of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University to identify the last remaining 'wild' areas on the earth's land surface, measured by human influence...

  • Private Protected Areas
  • List of largest protected areas in the world
  • Conservation refugee
    Conservation refugee
    Conservation Refugees are people, usually indigenous, who are displaced from their native lands when conservation areas are created, such as parks and other protected areas....

  • Centres of Plant Diversity
    Centres of Plant Diversity
    Centres of Plant Diversity was established in 1998 as a joint classification initiative between the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature intended to identify the areas in the world that are of the highest conservation value in terms of protecting the...

  • Indigenous Protected Areas
    Indigenous Protected Areas
    An Indigenous Protected Area is a class of protected area formed by agreement with Indigenous Australians, declared by Indigenous Australians, and formally recognised by the Government of Australia as being part of its National Reserve System....

     in Australia
  • Zakaznik
    Zakaznik
    Zakaznik is a type of protected area in Russia and other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine that meets World Conservation Union's category III, or more frequently category VII criteria....

    (type of protected area)

External links