Article

Effects of Errors and Gaps in Spatial Data Sets on Assessment of Conservation Progress: Errors and Gaps in Spatial Data Sets

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Abstract

Data on the location and extent of protected areas, ecosystems, and species' distributions are essential for determining gaps in biodiversity protection and identifying future conservation priorities. However, these data sets always come with errors in the maps and associated metadata. Errors are often overlooked in conservation studies, despite their potential negative effects on the reported extent of protection of species and ecosystems. We used 3 case studies to illustrate the implications of 3 sources of errors in reporting progress toward conservation objectives: protected areas with unknown boundaries that are replaced by buffered centroids, propagation of multiple errors in spatial data, and incomplete protected-area data sets. As of 2010, the frequency of protected areas with unknown boundaries in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) caused the estimated extent of protection of 37.1% of the terrestrial Neotropical mammals to be overestimated by an average 402.8% and of 62.6% of species to be underestimated by an average 10.9%. Estimated level of protection of the world's coral reefs was 25% higher when using recent finer-resolution data on coral reefs as opposed to globally available coarse-resolution data. Accounting for additional data sets not yet incorporated into WDPA contributed up to 6.7% of additional protection to marine ecosystems in the Philippines. We suggest ways for data providers to reduce the errors in spatial and ancillary data and ways for data users to mitigate the effects of these errors on biodiversity assessments. Efectos de Errores y Vacíos en Conjuntos de Datos Espaciales sobre la Evaluación del Progreso de la Conservación.

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... Given the widespread use of the online datasets in measuring MPA coverage [5][6][7][8] it is important to ensure that they accurately measure the progress of nations towards stated targets. With large datasets some error is inevitable and misrepresentations of MPA coverage can arise from the existence of paper parks [9], protected area downgrading, downsizing and degazettment [10] or mistakes in the database [11]. However, while minor errors in online datasets could be judged as inevitable, gross and persistent misrepresentations of national achievements can undermine the overall process of marine conservation and should be addressed as a priority. ...
... Misrepresentations in protected area coverage can result from both over-and under-representation of actual targets. While Visconti et al. [11] discussed the ramifications of under-representation due to limitations in the WDPA for identifying small-scale and community-based protected areas, large-scale overestimations of protected area coverage have received less attention. The consequences of overestimates in protected area coverage can be particularly negative as they may also lead to the subsequent cessation of conservation action if targets appear to have been met. ...
... This has led to overestimates of Tonga's contribution to marine protected area coverage targets by two orders of magnitude and Kiribati's by double. Large-scale misrepresentations significantly interfere with measuring progress towards marine conservation and while errors within the WDPA framework were highlighted five years ago in Visconti et al. [11], problems remain. While Visconti et al. [11] pointed to possible underestimates in protected area coverage due to the omission of community managed areas, this article points to gross overestimates. ...
Article
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted 20 targets, known as the Aichi Targets, to benchmark progress towards protecting biodiversity. These targets include Target 11 relating to Marine Protected Area coverage and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the accepted international database for tracking national commitments to this target. However, measuring national progress towards conservation targets relies on sound data. This paper highlights the large-scale misrepresentation, by up to two orders of magnitude, of national marine protected area coverage from two Pacific Island nations in multiple online databases and subsequent reports, including conclusions regarding achievements of Aichi 11 commitments. It recommends that for the target driven approach to have value, users of the WDPA data should carefully consider its caveats before using their raw data and that countries should strive for a greater degree of accountability. Lastly it also concludes that protected area coverage may not be the best approach to environmental sustainability and that the remaining 19 targets should be considered to a greater extent.
... The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Area Management Categories, stored within the database, help classify protected areas based on their primary management objectives (Dudley, 2008). Effective resolution varies according to original source data (UNEP- WCMC, 2017;Visconti et al., 2013). ...
... Harmonised datasets produced for this paper have been obtained by processing input source data to produce consistent 3 arc-second outputs. Source data are validated by independent studies (Brigham, Gilbert, & Xu, 2011;Cao & Bai, 2014;CIESIN 2016c;ESA, 2017c;Esch et al., 2017;Fick & Hijmans, 2017;Henderson, Yeh, Gong, Elvidge, & Baugh, 2003;Hormann, 2018;Iwao, Nishida, Kinoshita, & Yamagata, 2006;Lloyd et al., 2017;Min, Gaba, Sarr, & Agalassou, 2013;Muck, Klotz, & Taubenbock, 2017;Pesaresi et al., 2016;Rabus, Eineder, Roth, & Bamler, 2003;Rodríguez et al., 2005;UNEP-WCMC, 2017;US NOAA, 2017;Varga & Bašić, 2015;Visconti et al., 2013). An exception is Open Street Map source data, which do not comply with standard quality assurance procedures (Haklay, Basiouka, Antoniou, & Ather, 2013) because OSM is "volunteered geographical information" provided by any number of individual contributors. ...
... However, due to the inherent variability of data submitted by a wide range of providers with different capacity and resources to digitise protected area boundaries, issues with the accuracy of the WDPA should be expected (UNEP-WCMC, 2017). Discrepancies generated by such differences in resolution are discussed in Visconti et al. (2013). ...
Article
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Multi-temporal, globally consistent, high-resolution human population datasets provide consistent and comparable population distributions in support of mapping sub-national heterogeneities in health, wealth, and resource access, and monitoring change in these over time. The production of more reliable and spatially detailed population datasets is increasingly necessary due to the importance of improving metrics at sub-national and multi-temporal scales. This is in support of measurement and monitoring of UN Sustainable Development Goals and related agendas. In response to these agendas, a method has been developed to assemble and harmonise a unique, open access, archive of geospatial datasets. Datasets are provided as global, annual time series, where pertinent at the timescale of population analyses and where data is available, for use in the construction of population distribution layers. The archive includes sub-national census-based population estimates , matched to a geospatial layer denoting administrative unit boundaries, and a number of co-registered gridded geospatial factors that correlate strongly with population presence and density. Here, we describe these harmonised datasets and their limitations, along with the production workflow. Further, we demonstrate applications of the archive by producing multi-temporal gridded population outputs for Africa and using these to derive health and development metrics. The geospatial archive is available at https://doi.org/10.5258/ SOTON/WP00650. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Although all authors addressed gaps in the WDPA data when undertaking their analyses, the conclusions drawn inevitably rely upon the accuracy of the WDPA MPA dataset and thus the resulting trend in MPA coverage will, in part, be attributable to improvements in the WDPA (Toropova et al., 2010). Recently, Visconti et al. (2013) directly addressed the effects of gaps and errors in the WDPA spatial data upon the assessment of conservation progress and found that extremely significant under-and over-estimation of habitat protection was possible depending upon the proportion of the WDPA sites that had missing polygon boundary data or the extent to which Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) were included in the database. Although Visconti et al. (2013) made sensible suggestions as to how to improve these issues, their assessments revealed some misunderstandings around the WDPA data, how they are gathered and therefore how they might be improved. ...
... Recently, Visconti et al. (2013) directly addressed the effects of gaps and errors in the WDPA spatial data upon the assessment of conservation progress and found that extremely significant under-and over-estimation of habitat protection was possible depending upon the proportion of the WDPA sites that had missing polygon boundary data or the extent to which Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) were included in the database. Although Visconti et al. (2013) made sensible suggestions as to how to improve these issues, their assessments revealed some misunderstandings around the WDPA data, how they are gathered and therefore how they might be improved. More recently, Cros et al. (2014) suggested there was a serious discrepancy between the WDPA and the regional Coral Triangle Atlas as a result of the MPA classification used by the WDPA, which they asserted led to including 'areas with a coastal boundary as an MPA, even if the area is not managed for its marine habitats', a statement that is highly misleading. ...
... Although some authors suggest that boundary data can be procured or improved upon by unilaterally researching the boundary and adjusting the data (Visconti et al., 2013), this approach is not appropriate in the context of the WDPA with its UN mandate and responsibility to respect the information provided by Member States. Although the WDPA has had significant data input from a wide range of international NGOs such as IUCN, Birdlife International, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and WWF, the current WDPA data are characterized primarily as a multinational collective effort, with Member States as the main data providers of State-sanctioned areas according to their own legal frameworks. ...
Article
Full-text available
The adoption of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, along with the 20 Aichi Targets, is a strong political endorsement for integrating biodiversity strategy across the entire United Nations system. Aichi Targets represent specific, time-bound drivers for governments to safeguard both marine and terrestrial biodiversity.For the marine environment, Aichi Target 11 represents a call to effectively conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The core indicator to measure Aichi Target 11 is the extent of protected area coverage, and therefore it is essential that MPA data used to calculate this metric are robust.The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the authoritative source of data for measuring Aichi Target coverage progress. The WDPA assimilates global protected areas data as officially reported by the UN Member States themselves.Analysis of the WDPA (August 2014) calculated that MPAs now cover approximately 12,300,000km2 or 3.41% of the world's ocean. Only 0.59% of the global ocean area (2 163 661km2 within 1124 areas) is protected in no-take areas.Only gathering and using State-sanctioned information may affect the accuracy of the WDPA MPA data. However, it is essential to first and foremost recognize national sovereignty and the rights of the Member State data providers in order to maintain a comprehensive approach to data gathering while ensuring international support for the resulting coverage figures that are used to measure global environmental targets.Further improvements could be made to the MPA data, for example by refining current MPA attributes and working with Member States and conventions to reduce or remove point data in the system. Moreover, broadening the scope of the WDPA to allow the inclusion of clearly marked non-State-sanctioned sites would complement existing official data and facilitate dialogue between Member States and other data providers towards MPA data improvement.
... Two types of errors are common when working with species occurrence data: false presence (commission error) and false absence (omission error) (cf. Rodrigues et al., 2003;Rodrigues et al., 2004a;Visconti et al., 2013;Maréchaux et al., 2017). In the data presented here, a false presence means a grid cell was selected where the species is not present. ...
... IPA size for Slovenia required correcting for the analysis as the numbers available were suspected to be in m² instead of ha. The method of buffering centroids is known for introducing considerable commission and omission errors (Visconti et al., 2013), these effects will be discussed in chapter 7.2. ...
... The actual IPA area covers 15% of the area of overlapping pKBA cells, with a mean coverage of 36% per occupied pKBA cell and 2% of pKBA cells fully covered (see table 7). These results must be interpreted with care as overlap with IPA sites, which are displayed as a circular buffer of the area size (especially when based on a national or international average as is the case for Italy and Serbia), are prone to errors of over-and underestimation (Visconti et al., 2013; see discussion in chapter 7.2). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are sites that contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, encompassing the composition of biodiversity as well as ecological and biological processes. In 2016, the conservation and scientific community agreed upon a global KBA Standard, outlining five different criteria for identifying KBA sites. One of these criteria is the occurrence of species threatened with global extinction. The European Red List programme has assessed the extinction risk of more than 11,000 species from 19 taxonomic or functional groups of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants since 2007 – over 5,000 of these species are only found on the European continent. In Europe, KBAs have been identified for single species groups such as Important Bird Areas, Important Plant Areas, Prime Butterfly Areas or for multiple species groups including Critical Catchments for freshwater taxa as well as KBAs in Macaronesia and the Mediterranean region. Data from the European Red Lists were partially used as a basis for identifying these KBAs. However, the broad taxonomic coverage displayed in the Red Lists has not been fully exploited in informing KBAs. Those species not already included in KBA identification and which are threatened and endemic to Europe, were selected for the identification of additional potential KBA sites. In the present work, a total of 671 species of amphibians, saproxylic beetles, butterflies, mammals, terrestrial molluscs, plants and reptiles were chosen and their occurrences were recorded in the format of 100 km² grid cells. Spatial analysis of the resulting potential KBA sites was guided by three research questions: (1) Which spatial patterns do KBAs display when adequately representing European species threatened with extinction? (2) Are existing KBAs in Europe sufficient in representing species in the additional potential KBAs or is an expansion of KBA sites necessary? (3) To which extent are potential KBAs covered by protected areas? This analysis demonstrated that potential KBA sites are predominantly located in the southern half of Europe with a clear concentration in Macaronesia and the Mediterranean region. An evaluation of the spatial relationships among the taxonomic groups chosen, including potential surrogacy-target functions, remained inconclusive. Spatial overlap was high with protected areas, Critical Catchments and Important Bird Areas, and smaller with Important Plant Areas. Spatial prioritisation techniques confirmed the overall high spatial congruence of potential KBAs with protected areas and existing KBAs and indicate that adequate representation of European threatened endemics can to a large extent be achieved within existing sites. However, the coarse resolution of the chosen grid cells is susceptible to over- and underestimation of overlap and quality checks at a finer spatial resolution are recommended. Moreover, a species’ range being covered by an existing KBA or protected area, does not mean that the conservation needs of this species are appropriately addressed by site management activities. This thesis provides a dataset of potential KBA sites that can act as frame for a qualitative analysis and can be used as a baseline for KBA delineation and stakeholder consultations. The spatial framework presented here is another step towards conservation of European endemic and threatened vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, and ultimately towards halting the loss of biological diversity.
... Given the widespread use of the online datasets in measuring MPA coverage [5][6][7][8] it is important to ensure that they accurately measure the progress of nations towards stated targets. With large datasets some error is inevitable and misrepresentations of MPA coverage can arise from the existence of paper parks [9], protected area downgrading, downsizing and degazettment [10] or mistakes in the database [11]. However, while minor errors in online datasets could be judged as inevitable, gross and persistent misrepresentations of national achievements can undermine the overall process of marine conservation and should be addressed as a priority. ...
... Misrepresentations in protected area coverage can result from both over-and under-representation of actual targets. While Visconti et al. [11] discussed the ramifications of under-representation due to limitations in the WDPA for identifying small-scale and community-based protected areas, large-scale overestimations of protected area coverage have received less attention. The consequences of overestimates in protected area coverage can be particularly negative as they may also lead to the subsequent cessation of conservation action if targets appear to have been met. ...
... This has led to overestimates of Tonga's contribution to marine protected area coverage targets by two orders of magnitude and Kiribati's by double. Large-scale misrepresentations significantly interfere with measuring progress towards marine conservation and while errors within the WDPA framework were highlighted five years ago in Visconti et al. [11], problems remain. While Visconti et al. [11] pointed to possible underestimates in protected area coverage due to the omission of community managed areas, this article points to gross overestimates. ...
... For a fair comparison, an analyst must consider the effect of geographic transformations and projections, and underlying metadata of both the data and the base-map before conducting an overlay interrogation of data or spatial analysis and before making assumptions about spatial and positional accuracy. Some implications of these discrepancies in the protected area coverage analyses are discussed in Visconti et al. (2013). ...
... It should also be noted that after creating a flat layer as described above, the area of some of the buffered points may no longer be conserved because of spatial overlap with other protected features. For more information on the magnitude of these inaccuracies see Visconti et al. (2013). ...
... Recommendation: Given the potential for error in the Marine field in the WDPA, the WDPA team recommends using an intersection with a coastline, territorial seas, exclusive economic zone or other marine base layer of an appropriate scale in order to identify the marine area portions of protected areas that fall within the marine area of interest. For peer reviewed methodologies on how to calculate marine protected area coverage see Thomas et al. (2014).For more information on the potential errors due to different resolution of marine biodiversity data and accuracy in protected area boundaries see Visconti et al. (2013). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The World Database on Protected Areas User Manual is regulary updated in English, Spanish and French. To get the latest version see https://www.protectedplanet.net/c/wdpa-manual
... Furthermore, the inclusion of OECMs in the CBD's Aichi Target 11 may take b iodiversity protection beyond strictly protected areas (CBD, 2010) or it may just mean the inclusion of missing ICCAs and PPAs. Others have attempted to determine WDPA completeness by comparing WDPA country data sets with national data sets or lists (Visconti et al., 2013). However, the u ncertainty about what counts and the inconsistency in national versus global reporting described here render the simple comparison of a national list to the WDPA inadequate to determine completeness. ...
... These data gaps can have significant implications for analysis. Common exam ples of where gaps in key attributes have presented issues for analysts include gaps in status year, IUCN Category and missing boundaries (Spalding et al., 2013;Visconti et al., 2013;Knowles et al., 2015). Where there are gaps in status year (i.e. the year of establishment) for the majority of sites in a country data set, it is impos sible to plot growth in number of protected areas over time accurately for that country. ...
... In addition to gaps in attributes, missing or inaccurate protected area bound aries lead to the significant error in biodiversity protection statistics (Joppa & Pfaff, 2009;Visconti et al., 2013). Errors in spatial representation occur where point locations (assumed to be central coordinates) are the only descriptor available. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
The need to maintain accurate data on the location, size, type and status of the world's protected areas has become critically important in light of continued species decline and habitat degradation. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) fills this need by storing and making available standardised spatial and attribute information on the global protected area network. This chapter focuses on the successes and limitations of the WDPA, especially with regard to calculating biodiversity protection indicators. A synopsis on the WDPA, its history, purpose, standards, quality and its viability as a biodiversity protection indicator are given. The results of recent global analyses using the WDPA that aimed to track progress towards Aichi Target 11 are also summarised in this chapter. Finally, challenges of maintaining the WDPA are discussed, and consideration is given to the foundations that underpin it as well as solutions for maintaining its viability in the future.
... For a fair comparison, an analyst must consider the effect of geographic transformations and projections, and underlying metadata of both the data and the base-map before conducting an overlay interrogation of data or spatial analysis and before making assumptions about spatial and positional accuracy. Some implications of these discrepancies in the protected area coverage analyses are discussed in Visconti et al. (2013). ...
... It should also be noted that after creating a flat layer as described above, the area of some of the buffered points may no longer be conserved because of spatial overlap with other protected features. For more information on the magnitude of these inaccuracies see Visconti et al. (2013). ...
... Given the potential for error in the Marine field in the WDPA, the WDPA team recommends using an intersection with a coastline, territorial seas, exclusive economic zone or other marine base layer of an appropriate scale in order to identify the marine area portions of protected areas that fall within the marine area of interest. For peer reviewed methodologies on how to calculate marine protected area coverage see Thomas et al. (2014).For more information on the potential errors due to different resolution of marine biodiversity data and accuracy in protected area boundaries see Visconti et al. (2013). ...
... The presence of points in the WDPA can limit its usefulness for analyses, including when it is combined with other datasets. For example, a 2010 version of the WDPA was found to generate unrealistic estimates of species coverage when buffered points were used where polygons were unavailable 39 . As of January 2019, this problem affected nearly 21,000 records, or 8.6% of the WDPA. ...
... As of January 2019, this problem affected nearly 21,000 records, or 8.6% of the WDPA. Further known limitations include the under-representation of protected areas under non-government governance types [39][40][41] , under-reporting on the dates of establishment of protected areas 42 and the fact that the WDPA cannot be used in isolation to interrogate the quality of protected areas, or to look at areas contributing to conservation and sustainable use outside formal protected areas. ...
Article
The world’s protected area network is constantly changing, and the dynamics of this network are tracked using the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This database evolved from a list of protected areas first mandated by the United Nations in 1959, and it now informs the key indicators that track progress toward area-based conservation targets. In this capacity, the WDPA illuminates the role of protected areas in advancing a range of international objectives and agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite ongoing challenges in maintaining such a complex global dataset, the WDPA is continuously improving and taking advantage of new technology, making it widely applicable to diverse users, including those in sectors far from its original intended audience. In the future, the WDPA will expand to include areas that contribute to conservation and sustainable use outside of formal protected areas, and will increasingly link to other key global datasets. These innovations in the way the WDPA is managed and used will deliver vital knowledge to support a sustainable future for biodiversity and people globally.
... Known as commission (false positives) and omission (false negatives) errors, they can inflate or reduce the potential distribution of a given taxon. Minimizing such errors is a challenge for spatial modelling [4,7,9], but essential considering the uses and consequences such models may have [10]. Therefore, in situ validation of the SDM outputs should be a critical step-in some cases, urgent [10,11] since unvalidated species potential distribution maps can influence and hinder species assessments and the decision-making for species conservation. ...
... This is especially important in a conservation-focused scenario dealing with such high habitat changes due to anthropogenic causes. Modelling species distributions without proper in situ validation may result in inaccurate outputs, compromising the implementation of better conservation policies or species management plans, for example [5,9,60,61]. This can be particularly serious in the case of models with actual low sensibility (high omission errors). ...
Article
Full-text available
Species distribution modelling (SDM) gained importance on biodiversity distribution and conservation studies worldwide, including prioritizing areas for public policies and international treaties. Useful for large-scale approaches and species distribution estimates, it is a plus considering that a minor fraction of the planet is adequately sampled. However, minimizing errors is challenging, but essential, considering the uses and consequences of such models. In situ validation of the SDM outputs should be a key-step-in some cases, urgent. Bioacoustics can be used to validate and refine those outputs, especially if the focal species' vocalizations are conspicuous and species-specific. This is the case of echolocating bats. Here, we used extensive acoustic monitoring (>120 validation points over an area of >758,000 km 2 , and producing >300,000 sound files) to validate MaxEnt outputs for six neo-tropical bat species in a poorly-sampled region of Brazil. Based on in situ validation, we evaluated four threshold-dependent theoretical evaluation metrics' ability in predicting models' performance. We also assessed the performance of three widely used thresholds to convert continuous SDMs into presence/absence maps. We demonstrated that MaxEnt produces very different outputs, requiring a careful choice on thresholds and modeling parameters. Although all theoretical evaluation metrics studied were positively correlated with accuracy, we empirically demonstrated that metrics based on specificity-sensitivity and sensitivity-precision are better for testing models, considering that most SDMs are based on unbalanced data. Without independent field validation, we found that using an arbitrary threshold for modelling can be a precarious approach with many possible outcomes, even after getting good evaluation scores. Bioacoustics proved to be important for validating SDMs for the six bat species analyzed, allowing a better refinement of SDMs in large and under-sampled regions, with relatively low sampling effort. Regardless of the species assessing method used, our research highlighted the vital necessity of in situ validation for SDMs.
... With outputs based on specific conservation measures, such as percent of area or species covered, gap analyses effectively identify unprotected areas of high biodiversity value (Langhammer et al., 2007;Margules and Pressey, 2000;Mazaris et al., 2014;Possingham et al., 2006;Rodrigues et al., 2004a), which can be considered future conservation priorities. However, the quality of gap analyses are dependent on the accuracy and resolution of their underlying spatial data, which are generally scarce and of low resolution, leading to two types of errors: commission and omission (Kujala et al., 2011;Rodrigues et al., 2004a;Scott et al., 1993;Visconti et al., 2013). A commission error is when a species is considered covered by one or more protected area(s) when, in fact, it is not, while an omission error is when a species is considered not covered, but in fact, it is (Rodrigues et al., 2004a). ...
... (IUCN and UNEP-WCMC, 2015). Following the methodology of previous analyses of protected area coverage (e.g., Coad et al., 2013;Jenkins and Joppa, 2009;Rodrigues et al., 2004b;Visconti et al., 2013), only protected areas that were nationally designated were included in analyses (Table SII). In total, 30 nationally designated protected areas were identified for the Gulf. ...
... In addition, given the long period from the start of planning processes to the (usually incremental) implementation of conservation actions Pressey et al., 2013), tracking progress of plans becomes nearly impossible. While the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) provides reasonably up-to-date access to basic information about existing protected areas (Juffe-Bignoli et al., 2014), albeit with some limitations (Visconti et al., 2013), an analogous repository describing the details of planning processes to support the design and implementation of protected areas is missing. Furthermore, while there is a recognized gap between research and implementation in SCP (Knight et al., 2008), understanding how to more effectively make that transition requires systematic and continuous monitoring (Mascia et al., 2014;McIntosh et al., 2016). ...
Preprint
Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has increasingly been used to prioritize conservation actions, including the design of new protected areas to achieve conservation objectives. Over the last 10 years, the number of marine SCP studies has increased exponentially, yet there is no structured or reliable way to find information on methods, trends, and progress. The rapid growth in methods and marine applications warrants an updated analysis of the literature, as well as reflection on the need for continuous and systematic documentation of SCP exercises in general. To address these gaps, we developed a database to document SCP exercises and populated it with 155 marine SCP exercises found in the primary literature. Based on our review, we provide an update on global advances and trends in marine SCP literature. We found accelerating growth in the number of studies over the past decade, with increasing consideration of socioeconomic variables, land-sea planning, and ecological connectivity. While several studies aimed to inform conservation decisions, we found little evidence of input from practitioners. There are important gaps in geographic coverage and little correspondence with areas most threatened. Five countries lead most studies, but their networks suggest potential for capacity building through collaborations. The varying quality and detail in documentation of studies confirmed the limited opportunities to develop and assess the application of best practice in conservation planning. A global database to track the development, implementation, and impact of SCP applications can thus provide numerous benefits. Our database constitutes an important step towards the development of a centralized repository of information on planning exercises and can serve several roles to advance SCP theory and practice: it facilitates assessing geographic coverage and gaps; scientists and practitioners can access information to identify trends in the use of data, methods, and tools; reviewers and editors of journals can assess whether studies have covered important literature and developments; donors and non-government organizations can identify regions needing further work; and practitioners and policy-makers can learn from previous plans.
... In addition, given the long period from the start of planning processes to the (usually incremental) implementation of conservation actions Pressey et al., 2013), tracking progress of plans becomes nearly impossible. While the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) provides reasonably up-to-date access to basic information about existing protected areas (Juffe-Bignoli et al., 2014), albeit with some limitations (Visconti et al., 2013), an analogous repository describing the details of planning processes to support the design and implementation of protected areas is missing. Furthermore, while there is a recognized gap between research and implementation in SCP (Knight et al., 2008), understanding how to more effectively make that transition requires systematic and continuous monitoring (Mascia et al., 2014;McIntosh et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has increasingly been used to prioritize conservation actions, including the design of new protected areas to achieve conservation objectives. Over the last 10 years, the number of marine SCP studies has increased exponentially, yet there is no structured or reliable way to find information on methods, trends, and progress. The rapid growth in methods and marine applications warrants an updated analysis of the literature, as well as reflection on the need for continuous and systematic documentation of SCP exercises in general. To address these gaps, we developed a database to document SCP exercises and populated it with 155 marine SCP exercises found in the primary literature. Based on our review, we provide an update on global advances and trends in marine SCP literature. We found accelerating growth in the number of studies over the past decade, with increasing consideration of socioeconomic variables, land-sea planning, and ecological connectivity. While several studies aimed to inform conservation decisions, we found little evidence of input from practitioners. There are important gaps in geographic coverage and little correspondence with areas most threatened. Five countries lead most studies, but their networks suggest potential for capacity building through collaborations. The varying quality and detail in documentation of studies confirmed the limited opportunities to develop and assess the application of best practice in conservation planning. A global database to track the development, implementation, and impact of SCP applications can thus provide numerous benefits. Our database constitutes an important step towards the development of a centralized repository of information on planning exercises and can serve several roles to advance SCP theory and practice: it facilitates assessing geographic coverage and gaps; scientists and practitioners can access information to identify trends in the use of data, methods, and tools; reviewers and editors of journals can assess whether studies have covered important literature and developments; donors and non-government organizations can identify regions needing further work; and practitioners and policy-makers can learn from previous plans.
... For example, Green and Short (2003) published the first global map of seagrass distribution, showing observed (in situ) occurrence. This map has been used to study the probability of extinction of seagrass species (Short et al., 2011), regional level seagrass habitat mapping (Wabnitz et al., 2008), assessing the global marine protection targets (Wood et al., 2008), identifying the errors and gaps in spatial datasets on marine conservation (Visconti et al., 2013), and blue carbon sinks (Nellemann et al., 2009). While the Green and Short (2003) map documented some locations as a narrative, it did not necessarily include them in the map because the sources did not provide precise locations. ...
... PA data used were from the December 2019 release of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) (60). PA data were processed according to accepted practice (33,37,61,62). Point locations for PAs were excluded, as well as polygons <5 km 2 in reported area. ...
Article
Full-text available
Protected areas and renewable energy generation are critical tools to combat biodiversity loss and climate change, respectively. Over the coming decades, expansion of the protected area network to meet conservation objectives will be occurring alongside rapid deployment of renewable energy infrastructure to meet climate targets, driving potential conflict for a finite land resource. Renewable energy infrastructure can have negative effects on wildlife, and co-occurrence may mean emissions targets are met at the expense of conservation objectives. Here, we assess current and projected overlaps of wind and solar photovoltaic installations and important conservation areas across nine global regions using spatially explicit wind and solar data and methods for predicting future renewable expansion. We show similar levels of co-occurrence as previous studies but demonstrate that once area is accounted for, previous concerns about overlaps in the Northern Hemisphere may be largely unfounded, although they are high in some biodiverse countries (e.g., Brazil). Future projections of overlap between the two land uses presented here are generally dependent on priority threshold and region and suggest the risk of future conflict can be low. We use the best available data on protected area degradation to corroborate this level of risk. Together, our findings indicate that while conflicts between renewables and protected areas inevitably do occur, renewables represent an important option for decarbonization of the energy sector that would not significantly affect area-based conservation targets if deployed with appropriate policy and regulatory controls.
... As not all PAs meet these requirements, it is clear that even this most reputa-ble database on PAs does not encompass all PAs worldwide (Rodrigues et al. 2004a). According to Visconti et al. (2013), only those areas which are listed in the WDPA, have a clearly defined management and therefore a clearly assigned IUCN category should be considered PAs. In this paper, the concept of SACs, corresponding with the IUCN categories 1−4, is followed. ...
Article
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In conservation biology, there is a general consensus that protected areas (PAs) are one of the most effective tools for biodiversity protection. Worldwide, the area of PAs is continually increasing. But is the effectiveness of biodiversity protection improving with it? Since many PAs only exist as “paper parks” (i.e. they exist on maps and in legislation but offer little actual protection), the answer is uncertain. Moreover, it has long been known that, not only an increase in the extent of PAs, but also the efficiency of their management is fundamentally important for effective nature conservation. Therefore, there is a wide-ranging discussion about the actual effectiveness of PAs and factors that influence it. In the course of the EU pre-accession phase, a comprehensive field mapping of natural habitats took place in the Czech Republic in years 2001−2004. The mapping results were used to designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) as part of the Natura 2000 network. In this study, the aim was to evaluate the effectiveness of this newly created system of SACs for protection of biodiversity represented by the mapped natural habitats. The NCEI index (Nature Conservation Effectiveness Index) was applied, calculated as the total area of a particular habitat type in all SACs in the Czech Republic divided by the total area of that same natural habitat in the entire Czech Republic. Habitat protection in the Czech Republic is focused primarily on the smallest types of rare habitats, many of which are classified as critically endangered. The Czech national system of SACs provides protection to a total of 4,491.68 km2 of natural habitats. Based on these results, it can be concluded that the overall effectiveness of the SAC system in the Czech Republic, which is specifically aimed at protecting natural habitats, is low (NCEI = 0.36). Nevertheless, the critically endangered habitats receive maximum protection (NCEI = 1).
... Points were buffered in accordance to their reported area and merged to the polygons to create one definitive feature class per year. Buffering points has some important limitations (Visconti et al. 2013) but was incorporated into this analysis due to annual versions of the WDPA before 2007 consisting predominantly of points. Each annual version was flattened to remove overlaps between protected areas using GIS tools. ...
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Nations of the world have committed to a number of goals and targets to address global environmental challenges. Protected areas have for centuries been a key strategy in conservation and play a major role in addressing current challenges. The most important tool used to track progress on protected-area commitments is the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). Periodic assessments of the world's protected-area estate show steady growth over the last 2 decades. However, the current method, which uses the latest version of the WDPA, does not show the true dynamic nature of protected areas over time and does not provide information on sites removed from the WDPA. In reality, this method can only show growth or remain stable. We used GIS tools in an approach to assess protected-area change over time based on 12 temporally distinct versions of the WDPA that quantify area added and removed from the WDPA annually from 2004 to 2016. Both the narrative of continual growth of protected area and the counter-narrative of protected area removal were overly simplistic. The former because growth was almost entirely in the marine realm and the latter because some areas removed were reprotected in later years. On average 2.5 million km² was added to the WDPA annually and 1.1 million km² was removed. Reasons for the inclusion and removal of protected areas in the WDPA database were in part due to data-quality issues but also to on-the-ground changes. To meet the 17% protected-area component of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 by 2020, which stood at 14.7% in 2016, either the rate of protected-area removal must decrease or the rate of protected-area designation and addition to the WDPA must increase. © 2017 Society for Conservation Biology.
... Yet our most disturbing finding is that if protection between 2004 and 2014 had strategically targeted unrepresented threatened vertebrates, it may have been possible to protect >30 times more species (3086 or 2553 potential vs 85 actual new species represented) for the same area or the same cost as the actual expansion that occurred. Admittedly, these estimates of the number of species that could have been protected are likely optimistic, as some species will be absent from parts of their mapped range (Visconti et al 2013, Di Marco et al. 2016, and meeting range based targets does not necessarily secure a species' persistence (Venter et al. 2014, Laurance et al. 2012. Persistence often depends on the species-specific landscape context of protected areas, such as connectivity, threats and the inclusion of critical habitats (Boyd et al. 2008). ...
Article
To contribute to the aspirations of recent international biodiversity conventions, protected areas (PAs) must be strategically located, and not simply established on economically marginal lands as they have in the past. With refined international commitments under the Convention of Biodiversity to target protected areas in places of 'importance to biodiversity', this may now be the case. Here we analyze location biases in PAs globally over both historic (pre-2004) and recent time periods. Discouragingly, we find that both old and new protected areas are not targeting places with high concentration of threatened vertebrate species. Instead, they appear to be established in locations that minimize conflict with agriculturally suitable lands. This entrenchment of past trends has significant implications for the contributions these protected areas are making to international commitments to conserve biodiversity. We discover that if protected area growth between 2004 and 2014 had strategically targeted unrepresented threatened vertebrates, it would have been possible to protect >30 times more species (3086 or 2553 potential vs 85 actual new species represented) for the same area or the same cost as the actual expansion that occurred. With the land available for conservation declining, nations must urgently focus new protection on places that provide for the conservation outcomes outlined in international treaties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Former global gap analysis has predominately relied on IUCN maps as a major tool in assessing the adequacy of current protected area coverage on a global and regional basis ( Butchart et al., 2012;Cantú-Salazar et al., 2013;Venter et al., 2014;Meyer et al., 2015;Di Minin et al., 2016), yet studies clearly show the shortfalls in the methodologies and the implications in terms of regional prioritisation and species conservation status (Hughes in review; Gonzalez et al., 2016;Di Marco et al., 2016). In addition further analysis shows the dangers of range overestimation in terms of assigning correct redlist status and providing sufficient conservation have been discussed ( Visconti et al., 2013;Jetz et al., 2008). Thus developing alternate approaches which give a more precise and accurate projections of species ranges is essential to developing appropriate approaches for effective conservation ( Gonzalez et al., 2016). ...
Article
Southeast Asian biodiversity is a global priority for conservation, due to the high levels of diversity and endemism, combined with some of the greatest levels of threat. Conservation planning is essential to ensure that hotspots of biodiversity and endemism have the protection needed to prevent deforestation, hunting and other forms of exploitation in some of the Southeast Asia's most diverse areas, yet this requires data which in many cases does not exist. Growing volumes of online available data provides the ability to develop accurate models of species distributions, and gain new perspectives on regional diversity patterns and provide essential baseline data for planning and conservation. Here, using the best available information I develop maps of the ranges of 2471 vertebrate (birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians) and 1198 plant species, and explore patterns of biodiversity and the adequacy of protection. Each taxon shows different patterns of diversity, and no taxa provided an effective surrogate for diversity patterns in different groups. I show that for the majority of biodiversity hotspots fall outside protected areas, with between 10 and 55% of areas with at least > 75% of the maximum number of species unprotected. The percentage of species ranges protected areas also varies by taxa, from a maximum of 40% to reptiles with a mean of only 13.5% of species ranges protected. Furthermore comparison between my predictions and IUCN maps of diversity differed greatly for all taxa examined, with IUCN hotspots covering a much larger portion of the region and potentially overestimating the ranges of many species. Further efforts are needed to better protect centres of diversity, and the inclusion of these methods into regional conservation planning may greatly assist in increasing the effectiveness of conservation.
... Given that the level of enforcement across MPAs is difficult to verify for this region all MPAs were treated equally with respect to their level of protection when calculating the area of an ecoregion protected, p i . Beger and colleagues [24] acknowledge this approach is subject to estimation errors for the true amount of protected habitats [21,25]. Additional data processing methods, assessment, and geoprocessing rules are described in [24] for the coral habitat and MPA dataset. ...
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Protected Areas (PAs) are a central part of biodiversity conservation strategies around the world. Today, PAs cover c15% of the Earth’s land mass and c3% of the global oceans. These numbers are expected to grow rapidly to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity target 11, which aims to see 17% and 10% of terrestrial and marine biomes protected, respectively, by 2020. This target also requires countries to ensure that PAs protect an “ecologically representative” sample of their biodiversity. At present, there is no clear definition of what desirable ecological representation looks like, or guidelines of how to standardize its assessment as the PA estate grows. We propose a systematic approach to measure ecological representation in PA networks using the Protection Equality (PE) metric, which measures how equally ecological features, such as habitats, within a country’s borders are protected. We present an R package and two Protection Equality (PE) measures; proportional to area PE, and fixed area PE, which measure the representativeness of a country’s PA network. We illustrate the PE metrics with two case studies: coral reef protection across countries and ecoregions in the Coral Triangle, and representation of ecoregions of six of the largest countries in the world. Our results provide repeatable transparency to the issue of representation in PA networks and provide a starting point for further discussion, evaluation and testing of representation metrics. They also highlight clear shortcomings in current PA networks, particularly where they are biased towards certain assemblage types or habitats. Our proposed metrics should be used to report on measuring progress towards the representation component of Aichi Target 11. The PE metrics can be used to measure the representation of any kind of ecological feature including: species, ecoregions, processes or habitats.
... Errors in spatial datasets (e.g. distributions of species, habitats or protected areas) need careful consideration, as these can lead to misleading assessments of conservation progresses (Visconti et al. 2013). It has been suggested that species range maps should be analyzed at a coarse resolution (e.g. ...
Article
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1.Range maps represent the geographic distribution of species, they are commonly used to determine species coverage within protected areas and to find additional places needing protection. However, range maps are characterized by commission errors, where species are thought to be present in locations where they are not. When available, habitat suitability models can reduce commission errors in range maps, but these models are not always available. Adopting a coarse spatial resolution is often seen as an alternative approach for reducing the effect of commission errors, but this comes with poorly explored conservation trade-offs.
... Data on the global distribution of protected areas were obtained from the 2014 World Database on Protected Areas 13 . This database is the most comprehensive database on protected areas, yet it still contains inaccuracies and/or inconsistencies (see Supplementary Information) 34 . To account for some of these, we used four different subsets of the data, each of which produced a different version of the global marine protected area estate (Table 1 and Supplementary Information). ...
Article
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The first international goal for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve the ocean's biodiversity was set in 2002. Since 2006, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has driven MPA establishment, with 193 parties committed to protecting >10% of marine environments globally by 2020, especially 'areas of particular importance for biodiversity' (Aichi target 11). This has resulted in nearly 10 million km 2 of new MPAs, a growth of ∼360% in a decade. Unlike on land, it is not known how well protected areas capture marine biodiversity, leaving a significant gap in our understanding of existing MPAs and future protection requirements. We assess the overlap of global MPAs with the ranges of 17,348 marine species (fishes, mammals, invertebrates), and find that 97.4% of species have <10% of their ranges represented in stricter conservation classes. Almost all (99.8%) of the very poorly represented species (<2% coverage) are found within exclusive economic zones, suggesting an important role for particular nations to better protect biodiversity. Our results offer strategic guidance on where MPAs should be placed to support the CBD's overall goal to avert biodiversity loss. Achieving this goal is imperative for nature and humanity, as people depend on biodiversity for important and valuable services.
... All PAs represented as points (i.e. where PA shape is not specified) were buffered to an area equal to the reported area of the PA (Jenkins & Joppa, 2009;Visconti et al., 2013). For Europe, we also downloaded the vector map for Natura 2000 network from http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/, ...
Article
Aim Millennia of human activity have drastically shaped the Earth’s surface confining wildlife in ever more rare and sparse habitat fragments. Within the strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, Aichi Target 11 aims at the expansion of the current protected area (PA) system and the maintenance and improvement of its connectivity. This study aims at providing the first overview of the functionality of the PA networks across the six continents at different dispersal distances relevant for terrestrial mammals. Location Global. Methods We used a graph theory approach to assess the connectivity of PA networks of different continents across a wide range of dispersal distances. We assessed the connectivity of country-level PA networks, the connectivity of con- tinental PA networks and the contribution of country-level PA networks to continental connectivity. Results National and continental networks are characterized by very different spatial arrangements that translate into different levels of connectivity, ranging from networks where the reachable area is mostly determined by structural connectivity within PAs (e.g. Africa) to networks where connectivity mostly depends on animal dispersal among PAs (e.g. Europe). PA size correlates positively with connectivity for all species, followed by PA number; dispersal contributes less and positively interacts with number of PAs. Main conclusions Continental networks perform worse than national networks. Transboundary connectivity is often weak and should be improved, especially for countries that are important in promoting continental connectivity. Increasing PA coverage and size is a good strategy to improve multispecies connectivity.
... At the moment, severely resource-constrained countries have to rely on coarse-scale and notoriously inaccurate global datasets (e.g. Visconti et al., 2013 andVanak et al., 2014 in response to Laurence et al., 2014). These have been the only available starting point for many countries, such as many in Africa. ...
Article
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It is a hard reality that virtually all countries, no matter how well resourced, take conservation and land use decisions based on highly patchy and imperfect data-if indeed any data at all. Despite a mushrooming of scientific evidence and journals in the past decade, and open-access provision of many expensive global datasets, developing countries in particular often have to make do with inaccurate and coarse-scale global data, in the absence of targeted, local data to solve immediate conservation problems. To what extent can citizen science data compensate for the patchiness of conventional government-gathered scientific data in order to support planning, policy and management? We demonstrate how southern Africa's citizen science-based " early warning system for biodiversity " is used to support land-use planning and conservation decisions, including Red List, strategic and project based environmental impact assessments and national protected area expansion and implementation strategies. This system integrates volunteer-based species atlases such as the Protea Atlas Project and Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP), species population monitoring such as the Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers (CREW) project, and site-based rapid assessment and monitoring such as MyBirdPatch and BioBlitz. Countries in southern Africa are on a sharp continuum of research capacity, funding, political engagement and own datasets. Yet there is the capacity for adaptive management systems based in significant part on civil society volunteerism. Crucially, these must be underpinned by statistically sound, simple, repeatable scientific protocols, which are still rare in Africa.
... We therefore stress the importance of consistently-mapped PA polygons for accurate and comparable reporting of countries' efforts towards conserving their habitat resources [29]. Data completeness is being improved through systematic efforts by each of the countries providing information to the WDPA [18], and the constant efforts of UNEP-WCMC to improve this database mean that more accurate assessments will be possible in the future. ...
Article
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Inland waters are unique ecosystems offering services and habitat resources upon which many species depend. Despite the importance of, and threats to, inland water, global assessments of protected area (PA) coverage and trends have focused on land habitats or have assessed land and inland waters together. We here provide the first assessment of the level of protection of inland open surface waters and their trends (1984–2015) within PAs for all countries, using a globally consistent, high-resolution (30 m) and validated dataset on permanent and seasonal surface waters based on Landsat images. Globally, 15% of inland surface waters are covered by PAs with mapped boundaries. Estimated inland water protection increases to 16.4% if PAs with reported area but delineated only as points are included as circular buffers. These coverage estimates slightly exceed the comparable figure for land but fall below the 17% goal of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 for 2020. Protection levels are very uneven across countries, half of which do not yet meet the 17% target. The lowest coverage of surface water by PAs (<5%) was found in Africa and in parts of Asia. There was a global trend of permanent water losses and seasonal water gains within PAs, concomitant with an increase of both water types outside PAs. In 38% of countries, PAs lost over 5% of permanent water. Global protection targets for inland waters may well be met by 2020, but much stronger efforts are required to ensure their effective conservation, which will depend not only on sound PA governance and management but also on the sustainable use of water resources outside PAs. Given the pressures on water in a rapidly changing world, integrated management planning of water resources involving multiple sectors and entire basins is therefore necessary.
... FP scenario NP scenario Area (10 6 km 2 ) 15.5 15.5 9.9 DVegetation carbon (Pg C year -1 ) 0.6 0.3 0.1 DSoil organic carbon (Pg C year -1 ) -0.1 0.0 -0.1 DTotal land carbon (Pg C year -1 ) 0.5 0.3 0.0 Table 3 Potential loss of protected areas by the end of the twenty-first century in the NP scenario, in which the extent of protected areas is reduced in response to land-use pressures from a growing and wealthier world population Region Current (10 6 km 2 ) Future (10 6 km 2 ) Change (10 6 km 2 ) % of Global change estimate that can be improved with more accurate determinations of the extent of protected areas (Vistconte et al. 2013) and improved model parameterizations of key ecosystem processes such as photosynthetic responses to elevated CO 2 , especially for tropical forests (Schimel et al. 2015). While, to our knowledge, there are no other estimates of the annual carbon sequestration rate in the globe's terrestrial protected areas for the first decade of the twenty-first century, there are several estimates of the rate of carbon sequestration by forests and all land ecosystems including protected areas for this period (Table 4). ...
Article
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Globally, 15.5 million km(2) of land are currently identified as protected areas, which provide society with many ecosystem services including climate-change mitigation. Combining a global database of protected areas, a reconstruction of global land-use history, and a global biogeochemistry model, we estimate that protected areas currently sequester 0.5 Pg C annually, which is about one fifth of the carbon sequestered by all land ecosystems annually. Using an integrated earth systems model to generate climate and land-use scenarios for the twenty-first century, we project that rapid climate change, similar to high-end projections in IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, would cause the annual carbon sequestration rate in protected areas to drop to about 0.3 Pg C by 2100. For the scenario with both rapid climate change and extensive land-use change driven by population and economic pressures, 5.6 million km(2) of protected areas would be converted to other uses, and carbon sequestration in the remaining protected areas would drop to near zero by 2100.
... Beyond the surface calculation, the quality of the information such as the presence or absence of MPAs in the WDPA must also be considered, as more than 30 West African MPAs were not recorded there. As such errors have been identified for these seven West African coastal countries, there is a high probability it also exists for other lowincome countries in Africa and other parts of the world [12]. ...
Article
Developing countries are struggling to meet Aichi Target 11, which calls for 10% of national marine area under protection. In addition, the official tool to measure their progress, the WDPA, tends to overestimate it. To reach this target, developing countries must set up large offshore Marine protected areas.
... Given that many species occupy ranges much smaller than our 100 km × 100 km planning unit size, we erred on the side of caution and did not assign a minimum size threshold to reflect species presence. The coarse resolution of global species range maps means our analysis is subject to errors of omission and commission 50 . However, previous research shows that range maps provide good estimates to inform biodiversity priorities at global scales, but should be combined, when possible, with local data before finer-scale conservation decisions are made 51 . ...
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Conservation strategies based on charismatic flagship species, such as tigers, lions, and elephants, successfully attract funding from individuals and corporate donors. However, critics of this species-focused approach argue it wastes resources and often does not benefit broader biodiversity. If true, then the best way of raising conservation funds excludes the best way of spending it. Here we show that this conundrum can be resolved, and that the flagship species approach does not impede cost-effective conservation. Through a tailored prioritization approach, we identify places containing flagship species while also maximizing global biodiversity representation (based on 19,616 terrestrial and freshwater species). We then compare these results to scenarios that only maximized biodiversity representation, and demonstrate that our flagship-based approach achieves 79−89% of our objective. This provides strong evidence that prudently selected flagships can both raise funds for conservation and help target where these resources are best spent to conserve biodiversity. Conservation actions focused on flagship species are effective at raising funds and awareness. Here, McGowan et al. show that prioritizing areas for conservation based on the presence of flagship species results in the selection of areas with ~ 79-89% of the total species that would be selected by maximizing biodiversity representation only.
... data used were from the December 2019 release of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA)(UNEP-WCMC & IUCN, 2020). Protected area data were processed according to accepted practice (see UNEP-WCMC, n.d.;Visconti et al., 2013;Pouzols et al., 2014;Rehbein et al., 2020). Point locations for protected areas were excluded, as well as polygons < 5km 2 in reported area. ...
Thesis
Energy systems need decarbonisation in order to limit global warming to within safe limits. Unfettered climate change has the potential to greatly exacerbate species extinctions already much higher than historic baselines. Renewable energy technologies, especially solar photovoltaic and wind, have the potential to greatly aid in this decarbonisation but there are concerns as to the land required when compared to conventional, energy-dense, fuels. This is especially true given the urgent need to demarcate more land for biodiversity conservation. However, attempts to evidence these land concerns are hindered by lack of quality spatial data. This thesis shows, using newly generated spatially explicit data, that the expansion of renewable energy and biodiversity conservation do not necessarily conflict. I find, using a novel global, open access, harmonised dataset of onshore wind and solar photovoltaic installations, that although there are currently numerous overlaps with areas of conservation importance worldwide, echoing previous studies, when historic distributions are taken into account there is no evidence that energy-biodiversity conflict is set to increase in the future. I also find that although priority areas for biodiversity conservation have been identified well in prior work, identification of priority areas for renewable energy needs improvement. The results presented here suggest that more thoughtful planning of renewable energy can ensure no more potential impact on biodiversity than expected under a business as usual development scenario. I anticipate the data will support more research into what drives renewable energy siting, as well as providing a potential avenue for civil society to assess governmental progress towards clean energy objectives, for example Target 7.1 and 7.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the methods here provide a framework into which local impacts of renewable energy on biodiversity can be incorporated when they are better known.
... However, model accuracy and predictive power depend on the quality of the input data and on the appropriate use of specific software and their parameters (Elith et al. 2006;Jiménez-Valverde et al. 2008a, 2008bAnderson and Gonzalez 2011;Syfert et al. 2013;Radosavljevic and Anderson 2014). Omission and commission errors may result in significant negative impacts on species conservation, as they may reduce or inflate the predicted distribution affecting, for example, the determination of the species' conservation status (Rondinini et al. 2006;Jiménez-Valverde et al. 2008a, 2008bAnderson 2012;Visconti et al. 2013). ...
Article
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The big crested mastiff bat, Promops centralis, occurs in Central and South America, but knowledge of its ecology is limited due to its open space hunting strategy, making captures extremely challenging. Notwithstanding, members of the species produce echolocation calls that are easy to identify. After recording calls of P. centralis 1,500 km away from its known range in Brazil, we hypothesized that the distribution range of this species was probably greatly underestimated. To improve the accuracy of P. centralis’ real distribution, we employed acoustic surveys throughout parts of Brazil, conducted after a bibliographic review to gather additional records, and used MaxEnt to model the species’ potential distribution. We have found that P. centralis has a much wider distribution in South America than previously thought, adding more than 3.8 million km2 to its former known area. We also describe an unusual vocalization pattern of P. centralis, with individuals emitting at least three very distinct but highly variable calls. This study shows that bioacoustic surveys and species distribution models can complement traditional methodologies in studying species that are difficult to capture, such as P. centralis, potentially contributing to more effective conservation and management plans.
... There are often lags between the designation of protected areas and their inclusion in the WDPA, although the length of these lags is decreasing (UNEP-WCMC and IUCN, 2018b). There have been documented issues with under-estimation (Visconti et al., 2013) and over-estimation of some MPAs in the past (Smallhorn-West and Govan, 2018). The process for country reporting to the WDPA can be improved in various ways, but the dataset itself is updated monthly, well managed, and continually being improved. ...
Article
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To safeguard biodiversity effectively, marine protected areas (MPAs) should be sited using the best available science. There are numerous ongoing United Nations and non-governmental initiatives to map globally important marine areas. The criteria used by these initiatives vary, resulting in contradictions in the areas identified as important. Our analysis is the first to overlay these initiatives, quantify consensus, and conduct gap analyses at the global scale. We found that 55% of the ocean has been identified as important by one or more initiatives, and that individual areas have been identified by as many as seven overlapping initiatives. Using our overlay map and data on current MPA coverage, we highlight gaps in protection of important areas of the ocean. We considered any area identified by two to four initiatives to be of moderate consensus. Over 14% of the ocean fell under this category and most of this area (88%) is not yet protected. The largest concentrations of medium-consensus areas without protection were found in the Caribbean Sea, Madagascar and the southern tip of Africa, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Coral Triangle. Areas of high consensus (identified by five to seven initiatives) were almost always within MPAs, but their no-take status was often unreported. We found that nearly every marine province and nearly every exclusive economic zone contained area that has been identified as important but is not yet protected. Much of the identified area lies within contiguous stretches of >100,000 km2; it is unrealistic to expect that all this area be protected. Nonetheless, our results on areas of consensus provide initial insight into opportunities for further ocean protection.
... For example, Green and Short (2003) published the first global map of seagrass distribution, showing observed (in situ) occurrence. This map has been used to study the probability of extinction of seagrass species (Short et al., 2011), regional level seagrass habitat mapping (Wabnitz et al., 2008), assessing the global marine protection targets (Wood et al., 2008), identifying the errors and gaps in spatial datasets on marine conservation (Visconti et al., 2013), and blue carbon sinks (Nellemann et al., 2009). While the Green and Short (2003) map documented some locations as a narrative, it did not necessarily include them in the map because the sources did not provide precise locations. ...
... We included all designated terrestrial PAs and KBAs that had polygonal representation. PAs represented only by points were discarded, because without accurate information, we thought it safer to underestimate than to overestimate PA coverage (see Visconti et al., 2013 for further discussion). The original KBA polygon data set included approximately 14 900 KBAs that were reduced to 13 700 after rasterization and removal of marine areas. ...
Article
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Using spatial prioritization, we identify priority areas for the expansion of the global protected area network. We identify a set of unprotected key biodiversity areas (KBAs) that would efficiently complement the current protected area network in terms of coverage of ranges of terrestrial vertebrates. We show that protecting a small fraction (0.36%) of terrestrial area within KBAs could increase conservation coverage of ranges of threatened vertebrates by on average 14.7 percentage points. We also identify areas outside both the protected area and KBA networks that would further complement the priority KBAs. These areas are likely to hold populations of species that are poorly protected or covered by KBAs, and where on-the-ground surveys might confirm suitability for KBA designation or protection. Keywords: Aichi target 11, Convention on biological diversity, Representativeness, Spatial conservation prioritization, Zonation software
... Colombia and Perú have the best structured and updated databases of PAs in the TAC, something that should be replicated across the region. Our findings suggest that, just as in other countries of the world [29], the other TAC governments have an inadequate system of validation and reporting of PAs. Incorrect reporting may arise, either (1) as a strategy of overreporting information for the achievement of international targets, (2) as a result of poor political commitment to the use of precise information for conservation planning, (3) as a consequence of officials misunderstanding concepts and local legislation about PAs [30], or (4) as an effect of miscommunication or lack of coordination between central governments and decentralized administrations. ...
Article
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Conservationists recognize the value of protected area (PA) systems, with adequate coverage, ecological representation, connection, and management to deliver conservation benefits. Yet, governments primarily focus on coverage, disregarding quantification of the other criteria. While recent studies have assessed global representation and connectivity, they present limitations due to: (1) limited accuracy of the World Database of Protected Areas used, as governments may report areas that do not meet the IUCN or CBD PA definitions or omit subnational PAs, and (2) failure to include human impacts on the landscape in connectivity assessments. We constructed a validated PA database for Tropical Andean Countries (TAC; Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, and Venezuela) and used the existing Protected-Connected-Land (ProtConn) indicator—incorporating the Global Human Footprint as a spatial proxy for human pressure—to evaluate TAC ecoregions’ representation and connectivity. We found that just 27% of ecoregions in the TAC are both protected and connected on more than 17% of their lands. As we included human pressure, we conclude that previous global ProtConn studies overestimate PA connectivity. Subnational PAs are promising for strengthening the representation of PA systems. If nations seek to meet Aichi target 11, or an upcoming post-2020 30% target, further efforts are needed to implement and report subnational conservation areas and appropriately evaluate PA systems.
... However, in developing countries, few resources are available to monitor national reef status, so management and governing authorities are often required to make wide-reaching decisions for both people and ecosystems based on limited information. When records are unavailable, reporting on both national and international commitments can rely on data of questionable quality or limited scope, resulting in false impressions of progress [29]. Good quality data at the correct spatial scale are therefore critical to maintain government accountability and understand the efficacy of management strategies. ...
Article
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Despite increasing threats to Tonga's coral reefs from stressors that are both local (e.g. over-fishing and pollution) and global (e.g. climate change), there is yet to be a systematic assessment of the status of the country's coral reef ecosystem and reef fish fishery stocks. Here, we provide a national ecological assessment of Tonga's coral reefs and reef fish fishery using ecological survey data from 375 sites throughout Tonga's three main island groups (Ha'apai, Tongatapu and Vava'u), represented by seven key metrics of reef health and fish resource status. Boosted regression tree analysis was used to assess and describe the relative importance of 11 socio-environmental variables associated with these key metrics of reef condition. Mean live coral cover across Tonga was 18%, and showed a strong increase from north to south correlated with declining sea surface temperature, as well as with increasing distance from each provincial capital. Tongatapu, the southernmost island group, had 2.5 times greater coral cover than the northernmost group, Vava'u (24.9% and 10.4% respectively). Reef fish species richness and density were comparable throughout Tongatapu and the middle island group, Ha'apai (~35 species/transect and~2500 fish/km 2), but were significantly lower in Vava'u (~24 species/transect and~1700 fish/km 2). Spatial patterns in the reef fish assemblage were primarily influenced by habitat-associated variables (slope, structural complexity , and hard coral cover). The biomass of target reef fish was greatest in Ha'apai (~820 kg/ha) and lowest in Vava'u (~340 kg/ha), and was negatively associated with higher human influence and fishing activity. Overall mean reef fish biomass values suggest that Tonga's reef fish fishery can be classified as moderately to heavily exploited, with 64% of sites having less than 500 kg/ha. This study provides critical baseline ecological information for Tonga's coral reefs that will: (1) facilitate ongoing management and research; and (2) enable accurate reporting on conservation targets locally and internationally.
... Beyond the surface calculation, the quality of the information such as the presence or absence of MPAs in the WDPA must also be considered, as more than 30 West African MPAs were not recorded there. As such errors have been identified for these seven West African coastal countries, there is a high probability it also exists for other lowincome countries in Africa and other parts of the world [12]. ...
Article
Developing countries are struggling to meet Aichi Target 11, which calls for 10% of national marine area under protection. In addition, the official tool to measure their progress, the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), tends to overestimate it. To reach this target, developing countries must set up large offshore Marine protected areas.
... Beyond the surface calculation, the quality of the information such as the presence or absence of MPAs in the WDPA must also be considered, as more than 30 West African MPAs were not recorded there. As such errors have been identified for these seven West African coastal countries, there is a high probability it also exists for other lowincome countries in Africa and other parts of the world [12]. ...
Article
Developing countries are struggling to meet Aichi Target 11, which calls for 10% of national marine area under protection. In addition, the official tool to measure their progress, the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), tends to overestimate it. To reach this target, developing countries must set up large offshore Marine protected areas.
... When only point data is available, it is necessary to rely on the reported size of protected areas, which can often be missing or inaccurate, as opposed to the actual areas of polygons. This results in inaccuracies in protected area metrics (Visconti et al., 2013), and yet to omit points entirely would dramatically under-report on protected area coverage. and conservation planning (1.7%) (Mascia et al., 2014). ...
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The Eastern and Southern Africa region covers 24 countries from South Africa in the south to Sudan in the north and four of the six Western Indian Ocean island nations. The region is culturally diverse and extremely rich in biodiversity, with an abundance of spectacular wildlife, and many endemic species of flora and fauna. Considerable efforts are being made to conserve the biodiversity of the region, but growing human populations, land use conflict, over- exploitation of resources, unsustainable recreational activities, deforestation and illegal trade are threatening protected areas, species and ecosystems. To add to these challenges, the current COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the shutdown of the tourism industry and therefore, a significant decrease in conservation- related funding for the protected areas whose main revenue is tourism-based. The pandemic is exacerbating the gap in funding for protected areas and provides a harsh reminder of the need for revenue diversification. The State of Protected and Conserved Areas in Eastern and Southern Africa is the first report that brings together information on protected and conserved areas for the whole Eastern and Southern Africa region. It is a baseline report, which presents currently available data and information. Where possible, novel analyses have been undertaken and case studies and text boxes have been included to add to the baseline information. The report is supplemented by a number of other analyses undertaken through the BIOPAMA programme, which are also available as separate publications. The report consists of twelve chapters, with the overall theme of the report being to focus on protected and conserved area governance, equity and management effectiveness. The report includes a global overview of conservation and the related policies and programmes, as well as a regional analysis. As a region, Eastern and Southern Africa has 16.54% of the terrestrial area protected in 4,821 protected areas covering 2,120,112 km 2 . At least seven countries in the region have exceeded Aichi Target 11 (17%) for terrestrial coverage. The region is halfway to meeting the coastal and marine coverage target (10%) with 5.60% of the marine and coastal area protected in 411 protected areas covering 473,815 km 2 . Three countries in the region have exceeded Aichi Target 11 for marine and coastal protected area coverage. Most protected areas in the region are governed by the relevant national government agency, although many countries in the region are increasingly including areas governed by communities and the private sector, including those managed under private public partnerships. The governance types for many protected areas have not yet been reported to the World Database of Protected Areas. Eastern and Southern Africa is home to 39 Man and Biosphere Reserves, 27 World Heritage Sites, and 109 Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance). The region is also home to 30 transboundary conservation areas, ranging from conceptual designs to transfrontier conservation areas underpinned by full treaties. Southern Africa has a strong Transfrontier Conservation Area programme, where the first Transfrontier Conservation Area was declared in 1990 and from which lessons could be drawn for other parts of Africa. The purpose of the Regional Economic Communities in the region is to facilitate regional economic integration between member states of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community. They also play an important role in terms of promoting transfrontier conservation in the region. A summary of available data for each of the 24 countries covered in the report brings together information from the World Database on Protected Areas as well as country reports to the Convention on Biological Diversity. This information serves as a baseline of available information. It is intended in future reports to provide greater detail and analysis at the country level as this becomes available. The report includes an introduction to the governance of protected areas, reviewing the work by IUCN and others to provide tools to assist countries in meeting the Aichi Target 11 requirements that protected areas be equitably governed. The available tools to assess governance diversity and quality at the system-level and at the site level are described and case studies from the region are presented. These tools include the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, which focuses on four components: good governance, sound design and planning; effective management and successful conservation outcomes. A report prepared through the BIOPAMA programme examined 380 governance assessments and 50 social assessments undertaken in Eastern and Southern Africa. It was found that although there is an increase in governance and social assessments, this is still limited across the region and very few repeat assessments are being conducted. Assessment of protected area management effectiveness (PAME) also supports reporting on progress towards Aichi Target 11, reflecting the requirement for effective management. Approximately 13% of protected areas in the region have at least one reported PAME assessment. The analysis inventoried 2,686 management effectiveness assessments, most of which were Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) assessments. The new UNEP- WCMC Global Database on Protected Area Management Effectiveness (GD-PAME) was used in the assessment, but there are still large gaps in the data, which need to be filled to allow for a true reflection of the number, location and timing of PAME assessments. Many countries, such as Madagascar and South Africa, have been conducting management effectiveness assessments for a number of years, including repeat assessments in many protected areas. The results from these assessments are being used to improve management at these sites. There are many challenges in the region, and threats to conservation are growing, but country commitments to international agreements, targets and commitments to ensuring equitable governance and effective management of protected and conserved areas can promote and ensure the conservation of species and ecosystems in the region. These commitments need to be backed up with the necessary political will and resource allocations to ensure full implementation for the benefit of protected and conserved areas. Accurate, current and comparable data to measure progress against targets and commitments is essential to support planning and resource allocation. This report hopes to provide the baseline for these data and to encourage improvements in data collection and reporting to ensure equitable and effective conservation in Eastern and Southern Africa.
... The finer the grain size used, the greater the sampling effort required to identify all occupied cells for accurate measurement, but the vast majority of species do not have sample data across their full ranges at a grain size of 2 × 2 km. Not only are omission errors (false absences) important in assigning a species' conservation status (Visconti et al., 2013), with the magnitude of error varying between species of different range sizes (Gaston, 1996), but the sheer volume of records required to attain lower threat categories is prohibitive for the majority of species-put simply, the value of AOO assigned for poorly recorded species will primarily be a reflection of sampling effort. ...
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Aim The Area of Occupancy (AOO) of a species is often utilized to assess extinction risk for determining IUCN Red List status. However, the recommended raw‐counts method of summing occupied grid cells likely reflects only sampling effort, as the majority of species have not been sampled across their entire range at the fine grains required by IUCN. More accurate measurements can be generated at coarser grains (so‐called atlas data) as false absences are reduced. If we fit the occupancy‐area relationship to these data, we can extrapolate the relationship down to estimate occupancy at finer grains. Numerous models have been proposed to carry out such occupancy downscaling, but have only been tested on a limited range of species. Methods We test the ability of downscaling models to recover fine grain AOO against the raw‐counts method for 28,900 virtual species with a wide range of prevalence and aggregation characteristics, subsampled to reflect common spatial biases in sampling effort. We address several questions for ensuring accurate downscaling: How to generate accurate atlas data? How far can we accurately extrapolate the occupancy‐area relationship given perfect data? Can occupancy downscaling overcome false absences at fine grain sizes? And how does sampling bias and coverage affect accuracy? Results Downscaling was more accurate than the raw‐counts method in all scenarios except where sampling coverage was very high and/or the sampling bias was positively related to the species distribution. However, if atlas data contained many false absences, then even downscaling under‐estimated actual occupancy. Main conclusions Occupancy downscaling has the potential to be a useful tool for estimating AOO for IUCN Red List assessments, especially when sampling coverage is low and the currently recommended method is ineffective. However, its application should be tailored to the species’ characteristics, as well as the sampling coverage and bias of the species’ records.
... First, some PAs may exist for several years on the ground prior to being added to the WDPA, 4 so that a given WDPA version does not contain all PAs gazetted to that date (Lewis et al., 2019). This lag effect may lead to some underestimate of PA connectivity in our assessment, which needs to be considered together with other gaps in the WDPA (Visconti et al., 2013). Second, many countries have committed to expand their PA systems to meet or approach Aichi Target 11 or regional and national targets; an additional 4.5 million km 2 of land is expected to be designated as protected by 2020 . ...
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Connectivity of protected areas (PAs) is needed to ensure the long-term persistence of biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery. The Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in 2010 to have 17% of land covered by well-connected PA systems by 2020 (Aichi Target 11). We here globally assess, for all countries, the trends in terrestrial PA connectivity every other year from 2010 to 2018 using the ProtConn indicator, which quantifies how well the PA systems are designed to support connectivity. The percentage of protected connected land (ProtConn) has increased globally from 6.5% in 2010 to 7.7% in 2018. Oceania experienced the largest recent increase in PA connectivity, whereas Asia is the only content with a lower ProtConn in 2018 than in 2010. Globally, the relative increase in the percentage of protected connected land (ProtConn) is nearly twice that of the percentage of land under protection (PA coverage), due to clear improvements in the design of PA systems for connectivity in many regions. The connectivity of the PA networks has become more dependent on the permeability of the unprotected landscape matrix in between PAs and on the coordinated management of adjacent PAs with different designations and of transboundary PA linkages. The relatively slow recent increase in PA connectivity globally (2016–2018) raises doubt as to whether connectivity targets will be met by 2020, and suggests that considerable further action is required to promote better-connected PA systems globally, including the expansion of the PA systems to cover key areas for connectivity in many countries and regions.
... The government manages approximately 11% of this area as forest reserves, national sanctuaries, national parks, or national reserves (UNEP-WCMC, 2020b). This total excludes proposed protected areas, internationally designated areas (wetlands of international importance covered under the Ramsar Convention, biosphere and World Heritage sites covered under UNESCO), and overlaps between protected areas (UNEP-WCMC, 2020a; Visconti et al., 2013). ...
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Research into the protection of protected areas against bushmeat poachers placing snares: 1. How can snaring hotspots be identified? 2. Can the expertise of rangers be used in predicting snaring hotspots? 3. Can current patrolling patterns be improved?
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Aim: To explore global patterns in spatial aggregations of species richness, vulnerability and data deficiency for Rodentia and Eulipotyphla. To evaluate the adequacy of existing protected area (PA) network for these areas. To provide a focus for local conservation initiatives. Location: Global. Methods: Total species, globally threatened (GT) species, and Data Deficient (DD) species richness were calculated for a 1° resolution grid. Correspondence analyses between global species richness against GT species richness were performed. To assess PA network adequacy, a correspondence analysis was conducted to identify areas of high richness and GT species richness that have poor protection. Results: Six hotspots were identified for GT eulipotyphlans, encompassing 40% of GT species. Three of these contain higher numbers of GT species than would be expected based on their overall species richness. Ten priority regions were identified for GT rodents, which together contain 34% of all GT species. Six contain higher numbers of GT rodent species than would be expected based on their overall species richness. For DD species, 15% of DD eulipotyphlans were represented within three priority regions, whereas 18 were identified for rodents, capturing 53% of all DD species. Areas containing lower numbers of protected GT eulipotyphlan species than expected include Mexico; Cameroonian Highlands; Albertine Rift; Tanzania; Kenya; Ethiopia; western Asia; India; and Sri Lanka. Areas containing lower numbers of protected GT rodent species than expected are Borneo, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Five eulipotyphlans and 44 rodents have ranges which fall completely outside of PAs. Main conclusion: Rodentia and Eulipotyphla priority regions should be considered separately to one another and to other mammals. This analysis approach allows us to pinpoint and delineate geographical areas which represent key regions at a global level for rodents and eulipotyphlans, in order to facilitate conservation, field research and capacity building at a local level.
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The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area in Queensland, Australia contains globally significant seagrasses supporting key ecosystem services, including habitat and food for threatened populations of dugong and turtle. We compiled 35 years of data in a spatial database, including 81,387 data points with georeferenced seagrass and species presence/absence, depth, dominant sediment type, and collection date. We include data collected under commercial contract that have not been publicly available. Twelve seagrass species were recorded. The deepest seagrass was found at 76 m. Seagrass meadows are at risk from anthropogenic, climate and weather processes. Our database is a valuable resource that provides coastal managers and the global marine community with a long‐term spatial resource describing seagrass populations from the mid‐1980s against which to benchmark change. We address the data issues involved in hindcasting over 30 years to ensure confidence in the accuracy and reliability of data included.
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High species diversity and endemism within a vast area of intact and unexplored landscapes, makes the Eastern Himalayas a unique global biodiversity hotspot. The region is home to 255 native terrestrial mammal species including 75 globally threatened species such as the iconic tiger Panthera tigris, snow leopard Panthera uncia and the greater one-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis. To complement the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, I assessed the current conservation status of native terrestrial mammal species in the Eastern Himalayas and identified the 50 most threatened species based on conservation status, endemism, range size, and evolutionary distinctiveness. Despite a mismatch between current distribution of protected areas and priority areas to conserve these threatened mammals, my findings on the extent of ecoregion protection suggests adequate remaining natural habitats to expand current Eastern Himalayan protected areas. Between 2014 and 2015, I deployed 1858 camera traps within 1129 5-km x 5-km grids over 536 days to investigate richness and diversity of mammals between protected areas, biological corridors, and intervening areas (NPAs) along an elevational gradient in Bhutan. My study revealed 18 (32%) of 56 identified mammal species were IUCN-listed threatened species. Bhutan’s network of protected area and biological corridors harbor a richer mammal community than NPAs. Vegetation zones at upper and lower elevation ranges had high species richness and diversity relative to mid-elevations which had higher human presence. Finally, I assessed the ecological functionality, structural design, and management effectiveness of Bhutan’s biological corridor network by integrating detailed climatic, ecological, and biological data with emphasis placed on meta-populations of threatened, wide ranging, and 2 umbrella mammal species. To capture areas known to support high diversity of threatened species and reconcile current land use impact and climate change on biodiversity, the top seven priority areas for expansion within this network were identified. My innovative study fills a gap in existing knowledge on current progress and future prospective toward the novel idea by E.O. Wilson of securing a half earth, to conserve biodiversity, address the species-extinction crisis, and prevent collapse of vital ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and climate regulation. My work is also an important milestone in addressing knowledge gaps for conservation of threatened mammals in the Eastern Himalayas. Regional collaborative cooperation for effective transboundary research and management is necessary, and regional prioritizing of areas for biodiversity conservation is essential to prevent species extinction
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Area-based conservation through reserves or other measures is vital for preserving biodiversity and its functions for future generations, but its effective implementation suffers from a lack of both management-level detail and transparency around national responsibilities that might underpin cross-national support mechanisms. Here we implement a conservation prioritization framework that accounts for spatial data limitations yet offers actionable guidance at a 1km resolution. Our multi-scale linear optimization approach delineates globally the areas required to meet conservation targets for all ~32,000 described terrestrial vertebrate species, while offering flexibility in decision management to meet different local conservation objectives. Roughly 48.5% of land is sufficient to meet conservation targets for all species, of which 60.2% is either already protected or has minimal human modification. However, human-modified areas need to be managed or restored in some form to ensure the long-term survival for over half of species. This burden of area-based conservation is distributed very unevenly among countries, and, without a process that explicitly addresses geopolitical inequity, requires disproportionately large commitments from poorer countries. Our analyses provide baseline information for a potential intergovernmental and stakeholder contribution mechanism in service of a globally shared goal of sustaining biodiversity. Future updates and extensions to this global priority map have the potential to guide local and national advocacy and actions with a data-driven approach to support global conservation outcomes.
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Abstract Connectivity of protected areas (PAs) is crucial for meeting their conservation goals. We provide the first global evaluation of countries' progress towards Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity that is to have at least 17% of the land covered by well-connected PA systems by 2020. We quantify how well the terrestrial PA systems of countries are designed to promote connectivity, using the Protected Connected (ProtConn) indicator. We refine ProtConn to focus on the part of PA connectivity that is in the power of a country to influence, i.e. not penalizing countries for PA isolation due to the sea and to foreign lands. We found that globally only 7.5% of the area of the countries is covered by protected connected lands, which is about half of the global PA coverage of 14.7%, and that only 30% of the countries currently meet the Aichi Target 11 connectivity element. These findings suggest the need for considerable efforts to improve PA connectivity globally. We further identify the main priorities for improving or sustaining PA connectivity in each country: general increase of PA coverage, targeted designation of PAs in strategic locations for connectivity, ensuring permeability of the unprotected landscapes between PAs, coordinated management of neighbouring PAs within the country, and/or transnational coordination with PAs in other countries. Our assessment provides a key contribution to evaluate progress towards global PA connectivity targets and to highlight important strengths and weaknesses of the design of PA systems for connectivity in the world's countries and regions.
Article
1.Decisions about land use significantly influence biodiversity globally. The field of spatial conservation prioritisation explores allocation of conservation effort, including for reserve network expansion, targeting habitat restoration, or minimizing ecological impacts of development. Inevitably, the utility of such planning depends on the quantity and quality input data, including spatial information on biodiversity, threats and cost of action. In this work we systematically develop understanding about the significance of these different data types in spatial conservation prioritisation. 2.We clarify the common ways different data types enter an analysis, develop mathematical models to understand the effects of data in spatial prioritisation, and survey literature to establish typical quantities of different types of data used. We use Jackknife‐analysis to derive the expected change in site values, when a single new data layer is added to a prioritisation. We validate mathematical formulae for expected impacts using simulations. 3.A survey of scientific literature reveals that typical spatial prioritisation analyses include hundreds of biodiversity feature layers (species, habitat types, ecosystem services), but the count of cost, threat or habitat condition layers is typically 0‐5. Due to these differences, and the mathematical formulations commonly used to combine data types, the influence of a single cost, threat, or habitat condition data layer can be and order or two higher than the influence of a single biodiversity feature layer. In a classical cost‐effectiveness formulation (benefits divided by costs, B/C) the influence of a single cost layer can even be as large as the joint influence of thousands of species distributions. We also clarify how changes in data impact site values and spatial priority rankings differently, with the latter being further influenced by data correlations, the spread of numeric values inside data layers and other data characteristics. For example, costs influence priorities significantly if cost is positively correlated with biodiversity, but the correlation is the other way around for biodiversity and habitat condition. 4.This work helps conservation practitioners to direct efforts when collating data for spatial conservation planning. It also helps decision makers understand where to focus attention when interpreting conservation plans and their uncertainties. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Article
With protected areas identified as the primary tool to halt the loss of biodiversity, the Convention on Biological Diversity has set targets for protected area expansion. Increasingly, concerns are being raised that target-driven growth, where targets focus largely on quantity (total area protected) rather than quality, may fail to achieve their intended biodiversity outcomes. Therefore, it is important to assess whether growth in area protected is translating into a more robust system of protected areas that better safeguard biodiversity. In this study, we propose a set of seven indicators, drawing on the body of evidence for the elements of protected area design and management associated with better biodiversity outcomes. Many of the features of effective design and management interact with one another, making it essential to use a suite of indicators and consider progress relative to trends across all of these indicators. We implemented the proposed indicators for the Australian National Reserve System, which has undergone significant growth over the past two decades. Our findings demonstrate that relying on trends in total area protected can obscure negative trends in other important indicators which suggest many protected areas in Australia are under increasing pressure. Meanwhile, the level of resourcing for management has not kept pace with increases in total area protected and has certainly not scaled with changes in pressures on protected areas. It is important that the global conservation community strive for a more nuanced set of indicators for conservation progress to identify whether growth in area protected has, or has not, translated into a more robust and effective system of protected areas. Given that most of the indicators we propose can be populated with existing data, we believe this approach could be achievable for protected areas globally.
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A land-use map at the regional scale is a heavy computation task yet is critical to most landowners, researchers, and decision-makers, enabling them to make informed decisions for varying objectives. There are two major difficulties in generating land classification maps at the regional scale: the necessity of large data-sets of training points and the expensive computation cost in terms of both money and time. Volunteered Geographic Information opens a new era in mapping and visualizing the physical world by providing an open-access database valuable georeferenced information collected by volunteer citizens. As one of the most well-known VGI initiatives, OpenStreetMap (OSM), contributes not only to road network distribution information but also to the potential for using these data to justify and delineate land patterns. Whereas, most large-scale mapping approaches – including regional and national scales – confuse “land cover” and “land-use”, or build up the land-use database based on modeled land cover data-sets, in this study, we clearly distinguished and differentiated land-use from land cover. By focusing on our prime objective of mapping land-use and management practices, a robust regional land-use mapping approach was developed by integrating OSM data with the earth observation remote sensing imagery. Our novel approach incorporates a vital temporal component to large-scale land-use mapping while effectively eliminating the typically burdensome computation and time/money demands of such work. Furthermore, our novel approach in regional scale land-use mapping produced robust results in our study area: the overall internal accuracy of the classifier was 95.2% and the external accuracy of the classifier was measured at 74.8%.
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We present a high-resolution shoreline data set amalgamated from two databases in the public domain. The data have undergone extensive processing and are free of internal inconsistencies such as erratic points and crossing segments. The shorelines are constructed entirely from hierarchically arranged closed polygons. The data can be used to simplify data searches and data selections or to study the statistical characteristics of shorelines and landmasses. The data set can be accessed both electronically over Internet and from the National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, Colorado; it comes with access software and routines to facilitate decimation based on a standard line-reduction algorithm.
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Protected areas are a cornerstone of local, regional, and global strategies for the conservation of biodiversity. However, the ecological performance of these areas, both in terms of the representation and the maintenance of key biodiversity features, remains poorly understood. A large and rapidly expanding literature bears on these issues, but it is highly fragmented, principally comprises particular case studies, and employs a diverse array of approaches. Here we provide a synthetic review of this work, discriminating between issues of performance of inventory and condition at the scale of individual protected areas, portfolios, and networks of protected areas. We emphasize the insights that follow and the links between the different issues, as well as highlight the major problems that remain unresolved.
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Current global marine protection targets aim to protect 10–30% of marine habitats within the next 3–5 years. However, these targets were adopted without prior assessment of their achievability. Moreover, ability to monitor progress towards such targets has been constrained by a lack of robust data on marine protected areas. Here we present the results of the first explicitly marine-focused, global assessment of protected areas in relation to global marine protection targets. Approximately 2.35 million km2, 0.65% of the world's oceans and 1.6% of the total marine area within Exclusive Economic Zones, are currently protected. Only 0.08% of the world's oceans, and 0.2% of the total marine area under national jurisdiction is no-take. The global distribution of protected areas is both uneven and unrepresentative at multiple scales, and only half of the world's marine protected areas are part of a coherent network. Since 1984 the spatial extent of marine area protected globally has grown at an annual rate of 4.6%, at which even the most modest target is unlikely to be met for at least several decades rather than within the coming decade. These results validate concerns over the relevance and utility of broad conservation targets. However, given the low level of protection for marine ecosystems, a more immediate global concern is the need for a rapid increase in marine protected area coverage. In this case, the process of comparing targets to their expected achievement dates may help to mobilize support for the policy shifts and increased resources needed to improve the current level of marine protection.
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Detailed large-scale information on mammal distribution has often been lacking, hindering conservation efforts. We used the information from the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a baseline for developing habitat suitability models for 5027 out of 5330 known terrestrial mammal species, based on their habitat relationships. We focused on the following environmental variables: land cover, elevation and hydrological features. Models were developed at 300 m resolution and limited to within species' known geographical ranges. A subset of the models was validated using points of known species occurrence. We conducted a global, fine-scale analysis of patterns of species richness. The richness of mammal species estimated by the overlap of their suitable habitat is on average one-third less than that estimated by the overlap of their geographical ranges. The highest absolute difference is found in tropical and subtropical regions in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia that are not covered by dense forest. The proportion of suitable habitat within mammal geographical ranges correlates with the IUCN Red List category to which they have been assigned, decreasing monotonically from Least Concern to Endangered. These results demonstrate the importance of fine-resolution distribution data for the development of global conservation strategies for mammals.
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Spatial data on species distributions are available in two main forms, point locations and distribution maps (polygon ranges and grids). The first are often temporally and spatially biased, and too discontinuous, to be useful (untransformed) in spatial analyses. A variety of modelling approaches are used to transform point locations into maps. We discuss the attributes that point location data and distribution maps must satisfy in order to be useful in conservation planning. We recommend that before point location data are used to produce and/or evaluate distribution models, the dataset should be assessed under a set of criteria, including sample size, age of data, environmental/geographical coverage, independence, accuracy, time relevance and (often forgotten) representation of areas of permanent and natural presence of the species. Distribution maps must satisfy additional attributes if used for conservation analyses and strategies, including minimizing commission and omission errors, credibility of the source/assessors and availability for public screening. We review currently available databases for mammals globally and show that they are highly variable in complying with these attributes. The heterogeneity and weakness of spatial data seriously constrain their utility to global and also sub-global scale conservation analyses.
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Transferring decision-making process from central to local government and enhancing the role of local communities in managing coastal zones is an increasing commitment by governments in Southeast Asia. This article analyzes decentralized coastal zone management in two neighboring countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Federal system in Malaysia is argued to be able to influence more decentralized coastal zone management and to promote community-based management approaches. Meanwhile, the large diversity of coastal resources and communities combined with a still as yet tested decentralization policy in Indonesia is argued to bring more challenges in implementing the decentralization and community-based approaches in coastal zones. The lessons learned in this study provide insight in how far decentralized coastal zone management has taken place in Malaysia and Indonesia. The significant differences in the pattern of coastal zone management in these two countries are discussed in detail. This study recognizes that co-management and community-based approaches can be appropriate in dealing with coastal zone management. This comparative perspective is important to the development of a bigger picture of sustainable coastal zone management processes and cross-regional knowledge-sharing in Southeast Asia.
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Recently there has been increased interest in the use of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as tools for the conservation of marine habitats and species. This has resulted in the declaration of many MPAs around the world. Despite this activity there have been few tests of hypotheses about the design criteria for selection and management of these areas, resulting in a haphazard and ad hoc selection of protected areas, with conflicting and inconsistent terminology and objectives. The application of appropriately tested scientific information to the design of MPAs will increase the likelihood of success in the future. To 1st January 1992, 267 MPAs had been declared in Australia, covering a total area of ca 400 019 km2. The history of their declaration has been sporadic and uneven. Conflicts over State and Federal legislation and, within states, conflicts over jurisdiction among agencies caused by overlapping responsibilities, have at times slowed the declaration of MPAs. In this paper, the history of MPAs in Australia is used as a case study to discuss the problems, both biological and administrative, of declaring MPAs.
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The detection, attribution and prediction of global and large scale regional change are goals for the Global Observing Systems of the United Nations. Coastal areas are particularly sensitive to global change, but there is a variety of limitations to universal coverage of observations. The coastal module of the Global Terrestrial Observing System (C-GTOS) considers sentinel ecosystems to address these goals for the terrestrial, wetland and freshwater ecosystems of the coast. Sentinel ecosystems for observing systems are a limited number of well understood systems that have substantial datasets and are observed in a sustained fashion, forming an early warning and core system for broader regional and global change. A necessary step in the development of C-GTOS is the examination of current definitions of coastal areas by anticipated users and information providers, and identification of potential coastal networks and sites. We applied the sentinel system framework to the selection of C-GTOS observation sites from several international programs using various global delineations of coastal areas. Delineations were based on the most common definitions of the coast adopted by potential C-GTOS users and information providers, and included mapped areas of various distance from the coastline, coastal areas of low elevation, and a seaward boundary matching the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). Decreases in the number of sites within each international program occurred with each definition marking area closer to the coastline. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands demonstrates the greatest percentage of coastal sites by any definition. The process of choosing specific sentinel sites for C-GTOS continues from this initial screening, and is the next step towards the development of an in situ site network supporting the observation of global and large scale change.
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Methods are needed to identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation that minimize conflict with agricultural productivity. Analysis of georeferenced datasets for breeding birds, mammals, and amphibians in Mexico indicates that only 94 of 3 040 areas are needed to include all unprotected species within a reserve system. An examination of socioeconomic data reveals that in most of these 94 areas, opportunities exist to develop reserve networks that conserve biodiversity without adversely affecting existing human settlement, land use, or agricultural productivity. Planning that simultaneously considers infrastructure development, agricultural suitability, and protected areas can conserve biodiversity, increase agricultural production, and support rural livelihoods.
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Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, the world’s governments set a goal of protecting 10% of all ecological regions by 2010. We evaluated progress toward that goal for the world’s major terrestrial biomes, realms, and ecoregions. Total land area under any legal protection has increased from previous estimates to 12.9%, a notable achievement, although only 5.8% has strict protection for biodiversity. For biomes, protection ranges from 4% to 25%, with six of 14 biomes still below the 10% level. Geographic patterns of protection have a distinct bias, with higher rates of protection in New World realms than Old World realms. Of the world’s terrestrial ecoregions, half do not meet the 2010 Target and 76% have less than 10% of their area strictly protected. Approximately 13% of ecoregions have no strict protected areas. Recent years have seen an expansion of the protected area network, with an average of 0.13% of the global land area added per year. Most of the expansion since 2003 though has been in Brazil, particularly the Amazon. Without major investments in conservation, spread across the world’s ecosystems, the world will likely miss the 2010 target.
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Detailed large-scale information on mammal distribution has often been lacking, hindering conservation efforts. We used the information from the 2009 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as a baseline for developing habitat suitability models for 5027 out of 5330 known terrestrial mammal species, based on their habitat relationships. We focused on the following environmental variables: land cover, elevation and hydrological features. Models were developed at 300 m resolution and limited to within species' known geographical ranges. A subset of the models was validated using points of known species occurrence. We conducted a global, fine-scale analysis of patterns of species richness. The richness of mammal species estimated by the overlap of their suitable habitat is on average one-third less than that estimated by the overlap of their geographical ranges. The highest absolute difference is found in tropical and subtropical regions in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia that are not covered by dense forest. The proportion of suitable habitat within mammal geographical ranges correlates with the IUCN Red List category to which they have been assigned, decreasing monotonically from Least Concern to Endangered. These results demonstrate the importance of fine-resolution distribution data for the development of global conservation strategies for mammals.
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