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Protected Area Coverage of Ecoregions

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

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Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Unep wcmc

UNEP-WCMC

Contact point

Indicator description

Protected areas can provide multiple benefits for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. They are widely recognized as a major strategy for the conservation of species and ecosystems. The biodiversity they protect provides a range of goods and services essential to human wellbeing. They also help to safeguard natural resources and areas of cultural importance that local communities and indigenous peoples depend on. However, the global protected area system does not yet cover a representative sample of the world’s biodiversity.

This indicator measures the percentage of marine and terrestrial ecoregions covered by protected areas by combining the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) with three ecoregions datasets.

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.

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.

11

Related SDGs

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Target 6.6| Relevant indicator

By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes

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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| Relevant 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 15.2| Relevant indicator

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.

Target 15.4| Relevant 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.

Target 15.5| Relevant indicator

Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species.

Target 15.7| Relevant indicator

Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products.

Target 15.c| Relevant indicator

Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities.

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

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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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E sdg goals icons individual rgb 11
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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.

Indicator icon

IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

Chapter 3| Relevant indicator

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

Chapter 4| Relevant indicator

Direct and indirect drivers of change in the context of different perspectives of quality of life

Chapter 6| Relevant indicator

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

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Ramsar

Target 5| Relevant indicator

The ecological character of Ramsar Sites is maintained or restored, through effective planning and integrated management

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UNCCD

Expected impact 3.1| Relevant indicator

Sustainable land management and combating desertification/land degradation contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the mitigation of climate change.

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CMS

Indicator icon

IPBES Regional Assessment Chapters

Ramsar.logo

Ramsar

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UNCCD

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Indicator icon
Ramsar.logo

Themes

Bip policy

Policy & conservation actions

View related indicators >
Bip policy

Partners

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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

Protected areas can provide multiple benefits for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. They are widely recognized as a major strategy for the conservation of species and ecosystems. The biodiversity they protect provides a range of goods and services essential to human wellbeing. They also help to safeguard natural resources and areas of cultural importance that local communities and indigenous peoples depend on. However, the global protected area system does not yet cover a representative sample of the world’s biodiversity.

This indicator measures the percentage of marine and terrestrial ecoregions covered by protected areas by combining the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) with three ecoregions datasets.

Contact point

Graphs / Diagrams

Figure 1. Map of protection levels for the terrestrial and marine ecoregions of the world as of April 2016. Source: Battistella et al. (2016) http://dopa.jrc.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Terrestrial_and_Marine_Ecoregions_A0_1.pdf.

Current storyline

Protected areas can provide multiple benefits for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. They are widely recognized as a major strategy for the conservation of species and ecosystems. The biodiversity they protect provides a range of goods and services essential to human wellbeing. They also help to safeguard natural resources and areas of cultural importance that local communities and indigenous peoples depend on. However, the global protected area system does not yet cover a representative sample of the world’s biodiversity, nor is it covers the most important sites for biodiversity.

This indicator measures the percentage of marine and terrestrial ecoregions covered by protected areas by combining the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) with three ecoregions datasets Olson et al. (2001) for Terrestrial ecoregion, Spalding et al. (2007) for Marine ecoregions and Spalding et al. (2012) for Pelagic provinces (see Metadata for full references).

Terrestrial Ecoregions: 43% of the world’s ecoregions have at least 17% of their terrestrial area protected, showing no change since 2014. Notably, 10% of the world’s terrestrial ecoregions have more than half of their area protected, while 6% of the ecoregions have less than 1% of their terrestrial area protected. In the past, protected areas have often been located in places where there is no conflict with other human needs, rather than where they are important for biodiversity. There is consequently a need to prioritize efforts to protect under-represented areas of importance.

Protected area coverage (Number of units and percentage)

Scheme

Less than 1%

At least 17%

At least 50%

Terrestrial realm

0

3 (43%)

0

Terrestrial biomes

0

6 (43%)

0

Terrestrial ecoregions

53 (6%)

350 (43%)

85 (10%)

Marine Ecoregions and Pelagic Provinces: 36% of the world’s marine ecoregions have at least 10% of their area protected, an increase of 2% since 2014. Interestingly, 13% of the world’s marine ecoregions have more than half of their area protected, and 22% of marine ecoregions have less than 1% of their area protected. The largest marine protected areas are concentrated in the Eastern IndoPacific (21% protected), Temperate Australasia (19% protected) and Temperate Northern Atlantic (17% protected) realms. Beyond 200 meters depth, only 8% of pelagic provinces have at least 10% of their area included in protected areas, and 49% have less than 1% of their total areas protected.

Protected area coverage (Number of units and percentage)

Scheme

Less than 1%

At least 17%

At least 50%

Marine realms

0

3 (50%)

0

Marine provinces

4 (6%)

28 (45%)

7 (11%)

Marine ecoregions

51 (22%)

84 (36%)

29 (13%)

Pelagic provinces

18 (49%)

3 (8%)

0

Data and methodology

Coverage: Global.

Scale: Aggregated from national data.

Time series available: 1867 - current.

Possible disaggregations: By country, region.

Metadata used: This indicator uses the World Database on Protected Areas, the only global database on marine and terrestrial protected areas and 3 global ecoregions datasets for terrestrial and marine ecoregions and marine pelagic provinces.

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.

The ecoregions datasets were derived through analyses conducted by:

  • Olson et al. (2001) Terrestrial ecoregions of the world: A new map of life on Earth. BioScience 51: 933-938.
  • Spalding et al. (2007) Marine ecoregions of the world: A bioregionalization of coastal and shelf areas. BioScience 57: 573-583.
  • Spalding et al. (2012) Pelagic provinces of the world: A biogeographic classification of the world's surface pelagic waters. Ocean & Coastal Management 60: 19-30.

Methodology: Protected area coverage of ecoregions were calculated using the April 2016 version of the WDPA. A total of 217,155 designated protected areas from 244 countries and territories were included (202,467 terrestrial and 14,688 marine). These include all protected areas designated at a national level, those under regional agreements (e.g. Natura 2000 network), and those under regional and international conventions or agreements (e.g Natural World Heritage sites). A total of 6,797 sites were excluded from the analyses. These included UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserves (583 sites), protected areas with a status of “proposed” (2,347 sites) or “not reported” (236 sites), and 3,631 sites reported as points without an associated area. 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 global protected area layer is created by buffering protected areas reported as points in the WDPA (based on their official reported areas) and combining them with the polygons recorded in the WDPA.

This layer is overlaid with the 3 ecoregion datasets mentioned above and the coverage of protected areas of each ecoregion is calculated using GIS software.

National use of indicator

The Protected Area Coverage of Ecoregions Indicator can be aggregated into protected area coverage of terrestrial biomes, marine provinces and biogeographic realms, and disaggregated at the regional and national level.

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

Logo ec jrc standard positive rgb

Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Unep wcmc

UNEP-WCMC

Contact point