Friday, November 6, 2015

Three steps for better protected areas

Achieving CBD's goals are imperative for nature and humanity, as people depend on biodiversity for important and valuable services. The scientific community now must step up and actively help governments identify what is need for their future protected area estates so they can achieve great conservation outcomes.

The Convention on Biological Diversity and its 193 signatory nations established 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets organized under five strategic goals. Aichi Target 11 says: By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

We are half way into this ten year plan, and progress towards the targets has been made, with 15.4% of the world’s terrestrial area and 8.4% of the marine realm covered by a Protected Area (PA) under national jurisdiction. Yet it is widely accepted that the overall PA estate is inefficient because PAs: are often poorly-located as well as poorly-managed; fail to capture important elements, functions and services of biodiversity; and, are failing to address continuing pressures such as outright habitat loss and resource exploitation, due to corruption, poor governance, or insufficient financial resources.

An international group of researchers has developed a three-point plan to ensure the world's protected areas meet these targets as they recognize that part of the current failure of the protected areas to stop the decline of biodiversity is partly to do with the lack of science available. The colleagues offer strategic guidance on the types of science needed to be conducted so PAs can be placed and managed in ways that support the overall goal to avert biodiversity loss. The three points of their solution are:

  1. Establish ecologically sensible protected area targets to help prioritize important biodiversity areas and achieve ecological representation.
  2. Identify clear, comparable performance metrics of ecological effectiveness so conservationists can assess progress toward the targets.
  3. Identify metrics and report on the contribution of "other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) make toward the target.

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