A significant surge in marine protected areas has brought the UN goals of creating nature refuges on 17% of the world’s land and 10% of seas by 2020 within reach.
According to the Protected Planet report released by the UN, protected areas now cover more than five times the total area of the United States. More than 27m square kilometres of seas (7% of the total) and 20m sq km of land (15% of the total) now have protected status, with almost all growth occurring in marine regions.
Commitments from various nations for an additional 4.5m sq km of land and 16m sq km of oceans to be given protected status before 2020 have also been received by the UN convention of biological diversity. These commitments would bring global commitments within touching distance of the 2010 Aichi biodiversity targets.
“In an ocean of bad news about biodiversity loss and eco-destruction, it is important to highlight that progress, though we still have a lot more to do to ensure not just the quantitative target but the effectiveness of the management,” said the head of UN Biodiversity, Cristiana Pasca Palmer.
Poor enforcement is a key measure holding back the effectiveness of protected area management, especially in marine zones that are difficult to police. A number of these reserves have been referred to as ‘paper parks’ with little value to nature conservation, whilst at least one has even been turned into an industrial zone.
“Some areas that have been reported to us as protected areas have been completely built over,” said Naomi Kingston from the UN environment world conservation monitoring centre.
“We need datasets to define which areas are paper parks and which are real.”
As a result of these issues, many conservation initiatives are turning towards a more inclusive model of community land used for both agricultural production and wildlife conservation. In the remaining natural areas of rich biodiversity, local populations often live closely with nature, have an interest in protecting it and insights into how effective conservation can be achieved.
- If you feel strongly about biodiversity conservation and preserving wilderness areas, find a group in your area to support or get involved with. Many conservation groups are constantly seeking volunteers to help them maintain their important programs.
- Plant a tree in a wilderness corridor near you on National Tree Day 2019, or at any other time of year!
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.