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Protected area coverage

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Freely available

Partners

Unep wcmc

UNEP-WCMC

Contact point

Indicator description

The protected area coverage indicator helps to track progress in the establishment of a global comprehensive protected area network. Protected areas can provide multiple benefits for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. They are widely recognized as a major tool for the conservation of species and ecosystems. The biodiversity they protect provides a range of goods and services essential to human well-being. They also help to safeguard natural resources and areas of cultural importance that local communities and indigenous peoples depend on.

Related Aichi Targets

Primary target

11

Target 11:

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.

Secondary targets

Target 5:

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 12:

By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

Target 14:

By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Target 17:

By 2015 each Party has developed, adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan.

Primary target

11

Target 11:

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.

5
14
12
11
17

Related SDGs

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GOAL 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Target 11.4| Relevant indicator

Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

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GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Target 14.5| Official indicator

By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Target 15.1| Official indicator

By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements.

Target 15.4| Official indicator

By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development.

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GOAL 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

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GOAL 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

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GOAL 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

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Other related MEAs and processes

Cms logo blue4c

CMS

Target 9| Relevant indicator

International action and cooperation between States for the conservation and effective management of migratory species fully reflects a migratory systems approach, in which all States sharing responsibility for the species concerned engage in such actions in a concerted way.

Target 10| Relevant indicator

All key habitats and sites for migratory species are identified and included in area-based conservation measures so as to maintain their quality, integrity, resilience and functioning in accordance with the implementation of Aichi Target 11.

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IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

Chapter 3| Official indicator

Progress towards meeting major international objectives related to biodiversity and ecosystem services

Chapter 6| Official indicator

Opportunities and challenges for decision makers

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IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

Chapter 3| Relevant indicator

Status, trends and future dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystems underpinning nature’s benefits to people

Chapter 6| Official indicator

Options for governance, institutional arrangements and private and public decision-making across scales and sectors

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Ramsar

Target 6| Official indicator

There is a significant increase in area, numbers and ecological connectivity in the Ramsar Site network in particular under-represented types of wetlands including in under-represented ecoregions and transboundary sites

Target 6| Relevant indicator

There is a significant increase in area, numbers and ecological connectivity in the Ramsar Site network in particular under-represented types of wetlands including in under-represented ecoregions and transboundary sites

Target 9| Relevant indicator

The wise use of wetlands is strengthened through integrated resource management at the appropriate scale, inter alia, within a river basin or along a coastal zone.

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CMS

Indicator icon

IPBES Global Assessment Chapters

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IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

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Ramsar

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Indicator icon
Indicator icon
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Themes

Marine

Marine & freshwater habitats

View related indicators >
Bip policy

Policy & conservation actions

View related indicators >
Bip terrestrial

Terrestrial habitats

View related indicators >
Marine
Bip policy
Bip terrestrial

Partners

Unep wcmc

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Freely available

Indicator description

The protected area coverage indicator helps to track progress in the establishment of a global comprehensive protected area network. Protected areas can provide multiple benefits for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. They are widely recognized as a major tool for the conservation of species and ecosystems. The biodiversity they protect provides a range of goods and services essential to human well-being. They also help to safeguard natural resources and areas of cultural importance that local communities and indigenous peoples depend on.

Contact point

Graphs / Diagrams

Figure 1. Growth in nationally and internationally designated protected areas (1990-2016). These data are from April 2016 and do not represent the current coverage statistics - see Current Storyline.

Current storyline

In recognition of the importance of protected areas for the conservation of biodiversity, the Programme of Work on Protected Areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims to establish a comprehensive, ecologically representative, and effectively and equitably managed network of terrestrial and marine protected areas. Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, one of the 20 targets adopted by CBD Parties in 2010, deals specifically with protected areas and aims to protect 17% of the world’s terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of the world’s marine areas by 2020. This indicator measures progress towards this quantitative element of Target 11.

The protected area coverage indicator measures the policy response to biodiversity loss. An increase in protected area coverage indicates increased efforts by governments and civil society to protect land and sea areas with a view to achieve the long-term conservation of biodiversity with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. The CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 aims to protect 17% of the world’s terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of the world’s marine areas by 2020. This indicator is complemented by other protected area indicators that measure progress towards other elements of Target 11: e.g. how well the planet’s biodiversity is covered by protected areas and how well protected areas are managed.

The global number and extent of protected areas has increased dramatically over the past decades. By December 2016, 14.8% of terrestrial and inland waters were covered by protected areas. In the seas, 12.7% of all marine area under national jurisdiction is covered by protected areas but global ocean coverage remains low at only 5.1%. Assessing protected areas coverage is only one small part of Aichi Target 11 and does not provide any information on whether these areas are being effectively managed or covering areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Data and methodology

Coverage: Global time series (Data collated since 1962); Regional/national time series (Data collated since 1962).

Scale: Aggregated from national data; Aggregated from regional data.

Time series available: 1819 – 2016.

Possible disaggregations: By region, nation, terrestrial/marine realms, and ecoregion/biome.

Metadata used: The source of data for this indicator is the World Database on Protected Areas, the only global database on marine and terrestrial protected areas. The WDPA stores spatial distribution of protected areas including 28 descriptors. The percentage of protected areas by year of designation shows the actual years of designation of existing protected areas. Protected areas removed from the WDPA in previous years are not included. The WDPA is collected mainly from governmental sources and it covers most countries in the world but there might be discrepancies with some national datasets due to different methodologies applied, the use of a different criteria to select protected areas, or a time lag in the update of data from countries in the WDPA.

Methodology: Protected area coverage statistics were calculated using the December 2016 version of the WDPA. The analysis included all protected areas designated at a national level, those under regional agreements (e.g. Natura 2000 network), and those under international conventions or agreements (e.g Natural World Heritage sites). UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves, protected areas with a status of “proposed” or “not reported”, and sites reported as points without an associated area were removed from the analysis. UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves (MAB reserves) were removed on the basis that their buffer areas and transition zones may not comply with the IUCN protected area definition. Moreover, most core areas of MAB reserves overlap with existing protected areas.

A GIS analysis is used to calculate terrestrial and marine protection. For this a global protected area layer is created by buffering the points recorded in the WDPA based on their reported areas and combining them with the polygons recorded in the WDPA. This layer is overlaid with country boundaries, coastlines and/or buffered coastlines to obtain the absolute and relative coverage of protected areas at national, regional and global scales. Time series are created by grouping the global protected area layer by the known year of establishment of protected areas recorded in the WDPA.

The indicator can be used to assess the status of protection and trends in protection over time. It has been widely applied at various scales to measure policy response to biodiversity loss.

National use of indicator

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), from which the indicator is calculated, compiles data of all protected areas in a given country. The global indicator is calculated by collating data from government agencies and other authoritative sources over the world and therefore regional and national level indicators can be calculated provided there are sufficient data available. Coverage of protected areas was for example used by the European Environment Agency as an indicator to track progress towards the European 2010 biodiversity target in European countries. The WDPA stores 28 different attributes for a given protected area which could be used to develop new protected area indicators depending on the purpose of the indicator. The BIP has published guidance for national and regional use of the protected area coverage indicator. For more information about national and regional use of the protected area coverage indicator, contact Brian MacSharry (brian.macsharry@unep-wcmc.org).

The WDPA, from which the indicator is calculated, was used to produce the Asia Protected Planet Report 2014 which tracks progress towards achieving Aichi Target 11 at a regional and national level. For more information see: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/resources-and-data/asia-protected-planetreport-2014.

Further resources

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Indicator type

Response

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Operational and included in the CBD's list of indicators

Last update

2016

Coverage

Global

Availability

Freely available

Partners

Unep wcmc

UNEP-WCMC

Contact point