To meet the ten per cent target in areas within national jurisdiction, a further 2.2 million km2 of marine protected areas will be required. In addition, 21.5 million km2 in the high seas need to be protected for the target of 10 per cent to be attained.
Recent increases at sea are mainly due to the establishment of huge areas in waters around Australia, New Caledonia and Britain’s South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. In 2014, New Caledonia designated all of its jurisdictional waters as a marine protected area, encompassing an area of about 1.2 million km2, the largest protected area in the world.
If these areas were removed from the global marine statistics, coverage would be halved to only 1.8 per cent of the global ocean area and 4.4 per cent of jurisdictional waters.
Lack of Progress in Other Areas
Protected Planet 2012 highlighted a raft of challenges revolving around management and governance of protected areas, and issued 13 recommendations on how to expand protected areas and better track progress.
Of the priority actions identified, only two were judged by Protected Planet 2014 to have shown good progress: enhancing national reporting to the datasets used to track global progress, and accelerating the targeted expansion of the global protected areas network in terrestrial, inland water and marine areas.
Limited progress was recorded on the other recommendations – which included calls for improved understanding of the benefits of protected areas in supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services, better funding, strengthening local community engagement, and improving the connectivity of protected areas and their integration into surrounding landscapes.
The lack of sustainable financing is a particular area of concern – even though previous UNEP studies have shown that the overall economic benefits of protected areas greatly exceed the cost of managing them.
The financial investment required to establish and effectively manage an expanded protected area network to cover important sites for all wildlife groups by 2020 was estimated in 2012 to be $76.1 billion per year, the report says.
The report issued key messages and recommendations in these areas of concern to assist policy makers in ensuring the Target 11 is fully met. These include:
Coverage of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
In 2013, 22 per cent of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas and 23 per cent of Alliance for Zero Extinction sites were completely covered by protected areas, and on average less than half of each site was protected. Targeted expansion of protected area networks is needed to include some of these and other key areas on the land, and especially the seas. In addition, coverage of most eco-regions and species is not sufficient. Having a protected area network that adequately covers all important aspects of biodiversity and ecosystems services will require more than 17 per cent of the land and 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas.
Effectively managed protected areas conserve biodiversity and habitats. However, by 2013 only 29 per cent of the total area of nationally designated protected areas had been assessed for management effectiveness. Lack of effective management remains one of the largest problems facing the current global protected area system. More management effectiveness assessments, plus a greater focus on measuring biodiversity and social outcomes, are needed.
There is weak reporting and little available data on equitable management, both of which need to be strengthened to provide meaningful assessments of how equitable protected areas and other kinds of conservation areas are managed.
Available evidence on corridors indicates they have a positive conservation benefit. Despite a growing number of large connectivity projects, there is little knowledge of the level of connectivity between conservation areas across the wider landscapes and seascapes. Connectivity principles should be better incorporated into national planning and climate change adaptation programmes.
Benefits to People and Nature
Protected areas deliver numerous benefits for people and nature and need to be recognized as a proven and cost-effective natural way to deal with global challenges such as water provision, food security, disaster risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. This should be fully acknowledged by integrating protected areas into national planning and decision-making processes across all sectors.
Role in Sustainable Development Goals
Protected area coverage has been used as one of the indicators to track progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Protected areas, as vital elements of the landscape and models of sustainable development, could play an important role in the establishment and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). When the SDGs are agreed, the contribution of protected areas to each goal should be assessed to inform indicator development.
Click here to read/download the full publication, “Protected Planet Report 2014: Tracking Progress towards Global Targets for Protected Areas”.
Click here for UN List of Protected Areas.