A third of key nature sites lack protection

Governments are not doing enough for Protected Area networks, according to a new study showing that the system does not incorporate a third of all key sites, species and ecosystems.

In 2010, the world’s governments committed to conserving 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of sea by 2020, particularly those places of particular importance for nature.

With five years to go to achieve this target, new research shows that the current Protected Areas system is still failing to cover all key sites, species and ecosystems.

The research was conducted by 40 authors from 26 institutions led by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) member BirdLife International, as the IUCN reported.

Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International and lead author of the paper, said their research showed lacking protection in a third of areas.

He said: “We analysed nearly 12,000 important sites, over 1,000 terrestrial and marine ecological regions and over 25,000 species of animals and plants, including the first assessment for marine species.

“The analysis revealed that only one fifth of key sites for nature are completely covered by protected areas, with one third lacking any protection.”

Furthermore, less than half of mammals, amphibians, mangroves and various marine groups have a sufficient proportion of their distributions covered by the current Protected Area network to be adequately conserved. Threatened species in these groups, plus birds and corals, are even less well covered.

Achieving adequate coverage of nature to meet globally adopted targets would require twice the area of land as found in the current global Protected Area network.

Dr Butchart added that the study should be a wake-up call to governments and other conservationists across the world. He said that meeting the target would require accelerated recognition and designation of effective conservation areas that are much better targeted towards important sites for nature.

Photo credit: Asian Development Bank/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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