Doom, Gloom and Protected Areas

In 2003, 11.5% of all land, or 18.8 million square kilometers, were protected areas (source: UNDP-WCMC).

In their comment in Nature discussed in a previous post, Michel Loreau et al. wrote,

“Although protected areas have increased slightly during the past few decades,…”

That is just not true. Protected areas have increased dramatically during the past few decades, both in number of sites and in area.

A protected area is not a magic bullet. Is money better spent, not on new protected areas, but in other ways? On making existing protected areas work? On conservation outside protected areas? Does the very institutions designed to stimulate conservation actually create incentives for biodiversity degradation? (see e.g. this post, or Rupert Gatti et al.). We urgently need to find out. That takes research, not another international panel of experts as recommended by Loreau et al.


2 thoughts on “Doom, Gloom and Protected Areas

  1. Fascinating data. The Nature Conservancy’s new goal for “2015” is to work with partners to conserve 10% of every major global habitat type. For temperate broadleaf forest, for example, conservation efforts would concentrate in the eastern half of North America, in Japan, and in China where this habitat type occurrs. I believe there are some disclaimers (is to conserve the same as to protect) and I believe the percentage of permanently protected land for most of these habitat types is less than 10% at present. It is a very coarse filter, approach however, and a great deal can be lost at the scale of functional landscapes, natural communities and species when all that counts is the matrix habitat type.

  2. Pingback: Saving one species and losing three « Earth Child

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