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Protected Planet Report 2020 -World met target for protected area coverage on land, but quality must improve

Tracking progress towards global targets for protected and conserved areas. Protected Planet Reports are biennial landmark publications that assess the state of protected and conserved areas around the world.

The 2020 edition provides the final report on the status of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, and looks to the future as the world prepares to adopt a new post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

In 2010, the governments of the world reiterated their commitment to expanding protected and conserved areas by agreeing to:

  • conserve 17% of the world’s land and inland water ecosystems, and
  • 10% of its coastal waters and oceans, by 2020.

The Protected Planet Report 2020 brings together the available data at the end of 2020 to provide an authoritative assessment of progress towards this target, known as Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. Furthermore, it provides a baseline for tracking the new set of goals and targets being developed as part of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

 World met target for protected area coverage on land, but quality must improve ( 

The Protected Planet Report 2020 finds that the international community has made major progress towards the global target on protected and conserved area coverage, but has fallen far short on its commitments on the quality of these areas.

The report finds great progress since 2010 with:

  • 22.5 million km2 (16.64%) of land and inland water ecosystems and
  • 28.1 million km2 (7.74%) of coastal waters and the ocean within documented protected and conserved areas,
  • an increase of over 21 million km2 (42% of the current coverage) since 2010.
  • It is clear that coverage on land will considerably exceed the 17% target when data for all areas are made available, as many protected and conserved areas remain unreported. Protected Planet Report 2020 | UNEP - UN Environment Programme

To be effective, protected and conserved areas need to include important places for biodiversity.

  • Yet, 1/3 (one-third) of key biodiversity areas, be they on land, inland waters or the ocean, are still not protected at all, according to the report.

Protected and conserved areas also need to be better connected to each other, to allow species to move and ecological processes to function.

While there has been recent improvement, less than 8% of land is both protected and connected – far below the almost 17% of land area that is now under protection – and there remains a need to ensure surrounding areas are managed appropriately to maintain biodiversity values.

As well as designating new areas, the report calls for existing protected and conserved areas to be identified and recognised, by accounting for the efforts of indigenous peoples, local communities and private entities, whilst recognising their rights and responsibilities. The conservation efforts of these custodians remain undervalued and under-reported, though their contributions are extensive in securing a future for nature.

The report also finds that more needs to be done to manage protected and conserved areas equitably, so that the costs of conservation are not borne by local people while its benefits are enjoyed by others. This is key to building conservation networks that have the support and participation of people everywhere.

  • This Protected Planet Report is the first in the series to include data on other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) in addition to protected areas

Since 2010, protected areas covering almost 21 million km2 – greater than the land area of the Russian Federation – have been added to the global network, with new protected areas being added every month as national governments and other stakeholders expand their efforts.

Connectivity among protected areas and OECMs is improving. 7.84% of the world's terrestrial surface is both protected and connected, facilitating the movement of species and maintenance of ecological processes. The persistence of biodiversity in the long-term – particularly in the face of climate change and processes that fragment ecosystems – depends on achieving greater connectivity. Protected Planet Report 2020

The way ahead:

The enabling conditions for effective management and equitable governance will be better understood if assessments are applied more widely and reported to the Protected Planet Initiative.

Developing and operationalising meaningful global indicators would support these efforts and enable best practices to be scaled up. At site-level, assessments of effectiveness and equity can be used to improve governance and management over time.

It is vital that protected and conserved areas achieve their conservation objectives, and/or sustain the positive conservation outcomes for which they have been recognised. Ongoing monitoring of outcomes at site-level would be beneficial, as would reporting of results to the Protected Planet Initiative to inform global indicators.

More integrated approaches to conservation and sustainable use can be developed if protected and conserved areas are mainstreamed across national policies and planning.

The potential of protected and conserved areas to act as nature-based solutions to multiple socio-environmental challenges, including climate change, water security, and disaster risk management, thereby contributing to the implementation of several global conventions, should be recognised and enhanced.

A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. (IUCN Definition 2008) it has been estimated that the global network of protected areas stores at least 15% of terrestrial carbon. Protected area categories (IUCN)

The World Now Protects 15% of Its Land, but Crucial Biodiversity Zones Left Out (2016 IUCN)

Sources visited/referenced ( UNEP, Protected Planet ; IUCN ; UN News)

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