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COVID-19 and protected and conserved areas

  • Equilibrium Research


The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the global community; on people's lives and health, livelihoods, economies, and behaviours. Most zoonotic disease pandemics, including COVID-19, arise from the unsustainable exploitation of nature. This special editorial provides a snapshot of how protected and conserved areas around the world are being impacted by COVID-19. For many protected and conserved areas, negative impacts on management capacity, budgets and effectiveness are significant, as are impacts on the livelihoods of communities living in and around these areas. We provide a commentary on how effectively and equitably managed systems of protected and conserved areas can be part of a response to the pandemic that both lessens the chance of a recurrence of similar events and builds a more sustainable future for people and nature. We conclude the editorial with a Call for Action for the rescue, recovery, rebuilding and expansion of the global network of protected and conserved areas.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 7
Marc Hockings1*, Nigel Dudley2, Wendy Ellio3, Mariana Napolitano
Ferreira4, Kathy MacKinnon5, MKS Pasha6, Adrian Phillips7, Sue
Stolton2, Stephen Woodley8, Mike Appleton9, Olivier Chassot10, James
Fitzsimons11,12, Chris Galliers13, Rachel Golden Kroner14, John
Goodrich15, Jo Hopkins16, William Jackson17, Harry Jonas18, Barney
Long9, Musonda Mumba19, Jerey Parrish20, Midori Paxton21, Carol
Phua22, Raina Plowright23, Madhu Rao24, Kent Redford25, John
Robinson26, Carlos Manuel Rodríguez27, Trevor Sandwith28, Anna
Spenceley29, Candice Stevens30, Gary Tabor31, Sebasan Troëng14, Sean
Willmore17 and Angela Yang32
1School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia
2Equilibrium Research, Bristol, UK
3WWFInternaonal, Rwanda
4WWFBrasil, Brazil
5IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, UK
6WWF Tigers Alive, Singapore
7IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, UK
8IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Canada
Author aliaons connue on page 23
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the global community; on people’s lives and health,
livelihoods, economies, and behaviours. Most zoonotic disease pandemics, including COVID-19, arise from the
unsustainable exploitation of nature. This special editorial provides a snapshot of how protected and conserved areas
around the world are being impacted by COVID-19. For many protected and conserved areas, negative impacts on
management capacity, budgets and effectiveness are significant, as are impacts on the livelihoods of communities
living in and around these areas. We provide a commentary on how effectively and equitably managed systems of
protected and conserved areas can be part of a response to the pandemic that both lessens the chance of a recurrence
of similar events and builds a more sustainable future for people and nature. We conclude the editorial with a Call
for Action for the rescue, recovery, rebuilding and expansion of the global network of protected and conserved areas.
Key words: COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, protected areas, conserved areas, one health approach, call to
The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2
virus (Zhou et al., 2020), is changing almost everything.
It is first and foremost a deep human tragedy, which has
already killed hundreds of thousands of people and
altered the lives of billions. It is having dramatic
impacts on the global economy (Maliszewska et al.,
2020; McKibbin & Fernando, 2020). It has thrown
many assumptions about our future into doubt and has
created a collective moment for contemplation about the
future. We are only just beginning to understand its
implications for humanity and our relationship with
nature. The origins of most zoonotic disease pandemics
and epidemics, such as COVID-19, lie in a breakdown in
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 8
that relationship, arising from an unsustainable
exploitation of the natural world (Patz et al., 2004). The
implications of this unprecedented event, and of the
human responses to it, are therefore profound. They
raise fundamental questions about the ways in which
humanity impacts nature, for example through the
destruction of ecosystems, the unsustainable
consumption of wildlife and the illegal wildlife trade.
At this critical time, we assert that effectively and
equitably managed networks of well-connected
protected and conserved areas1, by maintaining the
ecological integrity of natural ecosystems, provide one
of the most important ways in which to strengthen and
repair the relationship between people and the natural
systems on which they depend. Of course, protected and
conserved areas cannot address all the issues around
COVID-19 and the natural world. However, they are
both highly impacted and do offer important solutions.
This special editorial first provides a global commentary
on how protected and conserved areas, both on land
and in the oceans, are being impacted by COVID-19. We
then present some scenarios outlining what possible
futures they might face. We conclude with a Call for
Action. We plan to use this Call for Action to open a
wider discussion and to build on and refine this
proposal. We hope many countries and sectors will be
ready to work together to develop these ideas and
support the necessary action. This will ensure that
protected and conserved areas play an important role in
a resilient planetary recovery from COVID-19,
advancing human and economic health and well-being.
It is now well recognised that the exploitation of wild
species and wild places, deforestation, uncontrolled
expansion of agriculture, intensification of farming, and
infrastructure development have increased and
modified the interface between people and wildlife, and
thus created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of
diseases from wildlife to people (Plowright et al., 2017;
Faust et al., 2018). These zoonotic diseases – diseases
that originate in animals and are transmitted to humans
– can more easily become epidemics or pandemics due
to our hyper-connected global societies and
transportation systems. Maintaining the ecological
integrity of nature through protected and conserved
areas is critical to halting biodiversity loss and can
contribute to reducing the risk of zoonotic spillover.
Protected and conserved areas safeguard nature while
at the same time providing food and water security,
disaster risk reduction, climate mitigation and
adaptation, and innumerable cultural, spiritual and
health values (Dudley et al., 2010). Despite growing
recognition of these benefits, they are often undervalued
and not sufficiently supported by the policy and
resources needed for effective conservation. How
protected and conserved areas are treated during and
after the COVID-19 pandemic will have major
implications for nature and for humanity’s reliance on
nature; they should be a central part of the move
towards greener economies.
The current pandemic and its aftermath could
undermine decades of conservation effort. But this crisis
could also offer an opportunity to transform the
economic approach that has led to this situation, and to
forge green, inclusive policies for a sustainable recovery.
It could be used to build a far more positive future for
these places and thus improve the prospects for human
well-being everywhere.
The idea that we need a “One Health” approach runs
through this text. One Health recognises that the health
of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected
(Aguirre et al., 2002; Cook et al., 2004). It applies a
coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary, trans-
boundary and cross-sectoral approach to address risks
that originate at the animal–human–ecosystem
interface. The adoption of a One Health approach is
increasingly urgent as the accelerating human footprint
on the natural world increases the risks of further
zoonotic disease spillover. As nations develop plans to
reinvigorate their economies post-COVID-19, we
encourage the incorporation of a One Health approach,
thereby ensuring an economic recovery that avoids
further environmental degradation, reduces the risk of
further zoonotic outbreaks and helps build a more
resilient future. Effectively and equitably managed
networks of protected and conserved areas, both
terrestrial and marine, should be a crucial part of this
Relationship between protected and conserved
areas and zoonoses
Wildlife serves as the origin for over 70 per cent of all
zoonotic emerging diseases (Jones et al., 2008), with the
rest coming from livestock. Wildlife, like humans and
their domestic animals, carry thousands of naturally
occurring viruses and microbes. Most are harmless, but
a few have the potential to cause disease in their host
populations, and some can cross the species barrier. As
human numbers have grown and the resulting human
footprint on the planet has expanded (O’Bryan et al.,
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 9
2020), the opportunities for more contact between
wildlife and humans have increased. Almost half of
zoonotic emergence events are driven by land use
change and associated activities (Keesing et al., 2010).
More frequent contacts make it more likely that
potential pathogens will jump from wildlife to humans
(and, in some circumstances, from humans to wildlife).
Some of these spillover events have led to the spread of
pathogens in epidemic and pandemic proportions, such
as HIV-AIDS (which has killed over 30 million people2),
Ebola virus disease, SARS, MERS and avian flu; such
too is the case of COVID-19 (Anderson et al., 2020).
The large-scale conversion and transformation of
natural ecosystems, including land use change caused
by food production, facilitate the ‘spillover’ of pathogens
from wildlife to human populations (Allen et al., 2017;
Patz et al., 2004; Karesh et al., 2012). The ecological
condition of an area may either buffer or facilitate
pathogen shedding within reservoir host species, and
between them. Human actions within and around
natural forests and other ecosystems that disturb
wildlife species and their ecology may lead to greater
pathogen shedding and facilitate contact spreading
(Johnson et al., 2020).
Well-designed and managed networks of protected and
conserved areas help to maintain intact natural habitats
and ecological integrity (Geldmann et al., 2013). Where
protected areas are being established, or exist, alongside
intensively used land, it is important to minimise edges,
separate intensive land uses and wildlife, and manage
for healthy functioning ecosystems. An awareness of
disease dynamics should become a feature in the design
and management of protected and conserved areas in
the future.
Impacts of COVID-19 on protected and
conserved areas
We are only just beginning to understand the impact of
the COVID-19 pandemic on protected and conserved
areas, but there are already many indications of the
direct impacts at site level, the future challenges and the
emerging policy implications.
Economic impacts from loss of tourism
Wildlife and nature tourism are major contributors to
economic activity around the world. Before the
pandemic, researchers estimated that the world’s
protected areas received roughly eight billion visits per
year, generating approximately USD 600 billion per
year in direct in-country expenditure and USD
250 billion per year in consumer surplus (Balmford et
al., 2015). A 2019 estimate puts the direct value of
wildlife tourism at USD 120 billion or USD 346 billion
when multiplier effects are accounted for, and it
generated 21.8 million jobs (World Travel and Tourism
Council, 2019). This income has virtually stopped as a
result of COVID-19: a recent survey of African safari
tour operators found that over 90 per cent of them had
experienced declines of greater than 75 per cent in
bookings and many indicated they had no bookings at
all, thus affecting local employment3. With more than
16 million people directly or indirectly employed in
tourism within the African region, the impact is
immense. Community-based conservation areas in
particular provide income support for families through a
share in tourism-derived income. The Mara Naboisho
Conservancy in Kenya, for example, provided the main
cash income for over 600 Maasai families; this has now
disappeared with the cessation of tourism4.
Local community guides earned income by taking tourists on walks through the Mara Naboisho Conservancy — income that has now ceased
as a result of the pandemic © Marc Hockings
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 10
In addition, many communities living near protected
areas benefit from a share of tourism revenues; for
example, those living around the mountain gorilla parks
in Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of the
Congo benefit from a proportion of park fees (Maekawa
et al., 2015). This important source of revenue for
communities will be hard hit (Spenceley, in prep.). In
some cases, the economy of entire towns – such as
Hoedspruit adjacent to Kruger National Park in South
Africa – has come to a standstill after the shutdown of
the adjacent protected area5. Communities depending
on tourism adjacent to Costa Rican protected areas and
Galapagos National Park, Ecuador are similarly
affected6. This loss of income from tourism is unlikely to
be short-lived: a study by Global Rescue and the World
Travel and Tourism Council (2019) found that the
average time from impact to economic recovery of
tourism following disease outbreaks was 19.4 months.
The dangers of relying on international tourism to
sustain conservation have been recognised for a long
time, and there are some moves to support
communities to become more resilient and less
dependent on this source of revenue7. However, for
protected and conserved areas that do rely heavily on
this kind of income, the pandemic has exposed their
vulnerability and demonstrated that local economies
are equally exposed (Spenceley, in prep).
Direct, site-level impacts on protected and conserved
Protected and conserved areas have been impacted
negatively in many ways. Management effectiveness
may be reduced through budget and staff cuts. The
Indigenous peoples and local communities that depend
on these areas may find their economies badly
disrupted and their livelihoods threatened. Pressures on
biodiversity and ecosystems may then grow as people
turn to alternative sources of subsistence and income.
This in turn undermines the functioning of ecosystem
processes and services within and around sites, causing
a further negative cycle of impacts on people.
Direct ecological impacts – The potential for zoonotic
diseases to have devastating impacts on wildlife
populations has been well documented. Chimpanzees
and gorillas are highly susceptible to respiratory viruses
(Gibbons, 2020). In one study area in the Congo, about
5,000 gorillas are estimated to have died from Ebola
virus in 2002–2003 (Bermejo et al., 2006). In the
Atlantic Forests in Brazil, many thousands of non-
human primates – as well as hundreds of people – died
as a result of an outbreak of yellow fever (Dietz et al.,
2019). Early indications are that dozens of species of
non-human primates are likely to be susceptible to the
virus causing COVID-19 (Melin et al., 2020). This is a
particularly high risk for non-human primates like
mountain gorillas that are habituated, and thus in
regular contact with humans. A disease outbreak could
be devastating for this still fragile subspecies and the
ecosystem in which it plays a crucial role. It would also
destroy the mountain gorilla tourism sector that
currently funds the management of all mountain gorilla
protected areas, as well as many other protected areas in
their range countries, and provides crucial revenue
sharing income for surrounding communities. Stringent
contingency plans, including the complete closure of
tourism, are being developed to avoid transmission of
the virus8. On the positive side, there are reports of
benefits for sensitive wildlife species in protected areas
because of reduced human activity (Corlett et al., 2020),
but such benefits are likely to be ephemeral once
restrictions of human movement are rolled back.
Management and enforcement impacts – The
operational capacity of most protected and conserved
areas has been affected to some extent by COVID-19,
although many countries are only just beginning to feel
impacts as the virus spreads around the world. Often,
the immediate response has been to reduce staff activity
and vital management services, including ranger
patrols. Reduced revenue and budgets for parks
agencies may threaten employment for some park
management staff in the future9. Travel restrictions have
made it difficult for some rangers to get to work, for
example in Ecuador half of all its rangers are thus
affected10. Colombia is maintaining ranger activities but
providing appropriate equipment to protect their health
while also relying more on technology such as drones11.
Rangers who were in the field at the time of the
lockdown may now be unable to get home, or may be
kept on duty to avoid the risk of rotating in additional
staff (e.g. in Rwanda12): so they are held apart from their
families for a prolonged period during this already
stressful time. In other protected and conserved areas,
management activities are operating at a lower intensity
because of newly imposed expenditure constraints and
cuts in staff numbers; or staff may be operating on
reduced incomes (e.g. in Rajasthan, India, frontline staff
have had a 30 per cent cut in their salaries for a three-
month period13). In Brazil, at least one third of IBAMA,
the Brazilian Environmental Agency, field operatives are
close to 60 years of age or have medical conditions,
making them more vulnerable to serious consequences
from COVID-19 so they are not being sent on
enforcement operations14. The significance of this is all
the greater now that deforestation levels are peaking
again in the Amazon and the next fire season is just
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 11
starting15. In some countries, rangers have been
diverted to tasks that are part of the COVID-19
response, such as delivering aid and food to local
communities, helping manage roadblocks and spraying
inhabited areas with disinfectant16.
In places where tourism revenue directly contributes to
salaries and operations, ranger numbers and field
operations have been cut, resulting in reduced
enforcement capacity, and the abandonment or
postponement of monitoring and routine management
tasks17. This impact on employment may be especially
severe in community conservancies and privately
protected areas that depend heavily on tourism to pay
staff salaries18.
There are reports of increased poaching (both
subsistence and commercial) and illegal resource
extraction in countries such as Cambodia19, India20,
Costa Rica21 and southern and eastern Africa22; a
tenfold increase in illegal logging is reported in
Tunisia23. In Nepal, more cases of illegal extraction of
forest resources, such as illicit logging and harvesting,
took place in the first month of lockdown (514 cases)
than in the entire previous year (483 cases)24; although
data on poaching does not show a marked increase, an
elephant and three critically endangered gharials were
poached within the first 10 days of the lockdown.
Moreover, six musk deer were killed in Sagarmatha
National Park, in one of the worst recent cases of
wildlife poaching in the region24. On the other hand,
there are reports of significantly reduced poaching of
rhinoceros in Kruger National Park and other protected
areas in South Africa due to lockdown and travel
restrictions25. It is important to note that hard data on
poaching trends during the lockdown are not yet widely
There may well be differences among types of illegal
exploitation. For example, high value transnational
trafficking may be temporarily declining because of the
lockdown and travel restrictions26, whilst poaching for
bushmeat, encroachment for grazing27 or illegal fishing
in marine protected areas may be increasing. In the
Seychelles28, Fiji29, Indonesia, the Philippines and
Hawai’i30, there are reports of increasing fishing
pressure in marine protected and conserved areas,
which is encouraged by a reduced management
presence. Lockdowns and travel restrictions along with
reduced employment and livelihood opportunities mean
local communities are increasingly depending on
subsistence harvesting and foraging, which could
potentially lead to overharvesting. This can be
exacerbated when people return to their home
communities from urban areas.
Visitation impacts – Protected and conserved areas in
many parts of the world have been partially or
completely closed to visitors as part of more widespread
controls over the movement of people within and
between countries. This means reduced visitor-related
work for some sites, but increased visitor pressures on
those remaining open31. A global picture of the extent of
such closures is not yet available but, by way of example,
World Heritage sites have been wholly closed to visitors
in 72 per cent of the 167 countries with listed sites and
remain fully open in only 10 per cent of these
countries32. Many protected area systems have closed
completely, while others have closed camping and day-
use facilities, while keeping some hiking trails open33.
Resource management impacts – Many activities, while
important for conservation, are not deemed essential
under some governments’ guidelines which aim to
discourage the movement of people over long
distances28. As a result, park authorities may be less able
to respond quickly to fires34 or incidents of human–
wildlife conflict, potentially resulting in increased
hardship to communities and reduced tolerance to
wildlife. Concerns for staff well-being also mean that
work that is not considered immediately essential and
which cannot be undertaken while physically distancing
or without protective clothing, is not taking place35. This
includes some types of scientific research and resource
management which may be time-critical for effective
conservation (Corlett et al., 2020). For example,
following the catastrophic fires in Australia in late 2019
and early 2020, recovery planning has been disrupted
by the COVID-19 restrictions36, and researchers cannot
undertake survey and monitoring work that will be vital
to the effective recovery of more than 100 threatened
People have changed their behaviour in response to the pandemic.
“Stay home — stay safe” sign in Dy Biosphere Reserve, Wales
© Nigel Dudley
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 12
animal species requiring urgent intervention to prevent
extinction. In Cape Verde, personnel undertaking cat
eradication on the island of Santa Luzia have had to be
evacuated because of COVID-19 restrictions, putting at
risk the success of the reintroduction of the Critically
Endangered Raso lark (Alauda razae)37. On the World
Heritage-listed Gough Island in the South Atlantic,
COVID-19 caused the postponement for at least a year
of a major programme to control introduced mice that
kill up to two million seabirds breeding on the island38.
Research programmes in a group of private protected
areas in Namibia have been temporarily shut down
because of travel restrictions affecting researchers and a
lack of funds derived from tourism18. Where managers
of privately protected areas live at some distance from
their protected or conserved areas (e.g. absentee
landholders; Selinske et al., 2019), they may be less able
to undertake critical management tasks or procure
contractors for this purpose.
Social and community impacts – Indigenous people
and local communities living in and around protected
and conserved areas are extremely vulnerable to
pandemics. They often live far from urban centres and
have communal and sometimes nomadic lifestyles. This
can lead to limited access to information and medical
services39, which are important in the context of novel
viruses. The immunological profile of Indigenous
populations can also differ from those of the majority
populations living in the same region. Response to a
new virus and disease may therefore be unexpected and
even deadlier among such minority groups (Mesa Vieira
et al., 2020). Many Indigenous communities fear a
repeat of the devastation wrought by measles and other
infectious diseases (Amigo, 2020). These risks may be
exacerbated where the government response to the
spread of COVID-19 is weak40. While a common
response is to try to close off remote communities from
outside visitors, a reduced management presence in
protected and conserved areas can encourage illegal
resource exploiters who can bring the virus with them
into these otherwise isolated communities41.
Many vulnerable, rural and marginalised communities
dependent on income from small and medium-sized
enterprises associated with protected and conserved
areas are in danger of losing jobs and incomes42. In
Nepal, the closure of Mount Everest’s trekking and
climbing has affected employment in local communities
and Sherpas who had stockpiled supplies to support the
high season have been left with no visitors to sell them
to43. All around the world, the collapse of international
and domestic tourism means that jobs are lost, salaries
are cut, benefits and incomes disappear44.
Policy challenges at national and regional levels
Many countries are taking on significant deficit
financing to support their populations and businesses
while they restrict activity to control the spread of
COVID-19; many developed countries are committing
more than 10 per cent of their GDP to this effort45.
Governments are also reviewing their spending
priorities in light of these radically changed budget
positions. In some countries, operational budgets of
environment (and other) departments are being
reallocated to the pandemic response46.
As governments seek to re-energise economies for a post
-COVID-19 world, arguments for rolling back
environmental protections are gaining traction,
including provisions that would newly authorise or
expand extractive industries and infrastructure in
protected and conserved areas. Such ‘emergency’
rollbacks provide limited opportunity for public
engagement. They are being proposed or enacted in a
large number of countries, including in the United
States47, Greece48, Canada49, Malaysia50, Albania51,
Brazil52 and Kenya53. Such legal efforts to downgrade the
protection given to protected areas, to reduce their size
or even to de-gazette them entirely (Mascia &
Pailler, 2011) will encourage deforestation,
fragmentation and ecosystem disruption that are a
major risk factor for the emergence of infectious
zoonotic diseases.
Opportunities for a new focus on protected and
conserved areas as global solutions
The responses from governments to COVID-19 have
shown an unprecedented level and speed of policy and
legislative action. At the same time, there have been
dramatic changes to societal behaviour in reaction to
this global pandemic. Can such resolve be applied to
other global crises?
The source and spread of the disease could lead to some
long-ignored environmental issues finally being
recognised and resolved. For example, targeted bans on
traded high-risk wildlife species would reduce the risk of
further zoonoses, as well as having significant
conservation benefits54,55, although policies on trade will
necessarily be nuanced by country and region.
Furthermore, the pandemic has focused the attention of
the world on the connection between healthy nature and
human health and well-being, and highlighted how
reliant we are on nature, particularly for our mental
health. In an increasingly urbanised world, parks are the
gateway to nature for many of the world’s population
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 13
and are a natural solution for securing human health
and well-being. Nature can have therapeutic effects for
people suffering the effects of social isolation. The
mental health benefits derived from time spent in
nature will also translate into economic benefits, such
as avoided health care costs (Buckley et al., 2019;
MacKinnon et al., 2019). In particular, urban parks and
protected areas are becoming a lifeline for physical and
mental health (Mell, 2020; Surico, 2020); this
increased usage and interest could have additional
benefits for protected and conserved areas and green
space more generally.
The increased debt being accrued by governments is a
significant impact of this pandemic. Yet there is an
opportunity here for conservation organisations to work
with governments and their debt holders to restructure
debt through Debt for Nature swaps, thus using debt
repayment to help finance nature protection. Debt
restructuring such as the recent marine debt-for-nature
swap, or ‘Blue Bond’, established in the Republic of
Seychelles by The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank
and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate
Adaptation Trust56, can help governments restructure
mounting debt accruing during this time of economic
crisis, yielding benefits for national economies as well
as for nature. Trust Funds are another mechanism for
long term financing for the management of both
protected areas and indigenous territories57,58. A carbon
tax with part of the revenue directed to protected area
management such as that of Colombia is a further
example of diversified funding (Barbier et al., 2020).
Similarly, REDD+ payments can provide financing for
protected areas as exemplified by Alto Mayo Protected
Forest in Peru59.
Most importantly, COVID-19 could spur the global
community to a determination to address the other
global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss,
including through a heightened focus on protected and
conserved areas. There is an extensive and robust body
of scientific knowledge to help target investment on the
most valuable ecosystems for the simultaneous pursuit
of carbon sequestration, biodiversity and economic
goals. There is significant policy opportunity to
‘mainstream’ and integrate nature protection into
economic planning60 as well as human health priorities.
The potential for restoration of protected and conserved
areas could provide a major boost to the UN’s Decade on
Ecosystem Restoration which is due to begin next year
(Dudley et al., 2020). Nature protection should be seen
as critical to sustainable economic growth and human
Parks are a natural soluon that can help secure human health and wellbeing; bushwalking in the Ovens River region, Alpine Naonal Park,
Victoria © Parks Victoria
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 14
health – two priority issues that will dominate the
global recovery agenda.
Based on the impacts, challenges and opportunities
discussed above, we propose three potential scenarios
for how the pandemic will impact protected and
conserved areas and the role they could play in society’s
Scenario 1: A return to normal
Under this scenario, the world learns to adapt to COVID
-19 and strives to return to the old model of economic
growth. There are scientific breakthroughs in the
treatment of the virus and an effective vaccine is
developed and shared globally. Although there is an
economic recession of 1–3 years, there is a return to pre
-COVID-19 levels of tourism and government support
for protected and conserved areas. Support for
conservation from NGOs and foundations also recovers.
From a conservation perspective, we are in the same
situation as before the pandemic, as described by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and
Ecosystems Services report (IPBES, 2019), where the
challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change
remain largely unaddressed. This means the global
biodiversity outlook is still dire and we have lost time in
actioning a post-2020 agenda under the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD). There will still be significant
underfunding for existing and new protected and
conserved areas, and biodiversity will still be in decline,
with up to one million species facing extinction
(IPBES, 2019).
Scenario 2: A global economic depression and
decline in conservation and protection
Under this scenario, the global pandemic lasts longer,
or is more deadly than forecast. High levels of
unemployment and shuttered businesses mean lower
taxes for governments. There is a global economic
depression, which results in a dramatic decline in all
sources of conservation funding. Many people in urban
areas lose their jobs and return to their rural home
communities, thereby increasing pressure on natural
resources. Tourism continues to be dramatically
reduced and those protected and conserved areas and
communities that rely on tourism revenues are starved
of funds. Support from conservation NGOs and
foundations decreases sharply with declining donations
in contracting economies.
Globally most governments adopt massive stimulus
packages to restart economies, but with a single focus
on job creation. Environmental regulation is weakened,
and conservation spending reduced. Nations look
inward and political and financial support for
international and multilateral institutions declines.
Protected and conserved areas around the world are
even more underfunded and there are few resources for
the management or expansion of the protected areas
estate, making areas more vulnerable to illegal activities.
Indigenous and community conservation areas come
under increased pressure for resource exploitation.
Without effective management, human–wildlife
interactions in and around protected and conserved
areas become more problematic and more people and
wildlife suffer. The work of the United Nations, inter-
governmental bodies and the major international NGOs
becomes increasingly marginalised.
At the same time, restrictions on economic development
activities in protected and conserved areas are lifted,
allowing more opening up of wilderness areas for
extractive use and infrastructure development, and
conversion to agriculture or other land uses. There is
significant pressure in many countries to degrade or de-
gazette protected and conserved areas. Biodiversity
declines even more rapidly than before the pandemic,
ecosystem services are lost and there is an emergence of
more zoonotic diseases that drive other pandemics,
spiralling into dangerous feedback loops. All this occurs
in a world that fails to act on climate change.
Scenario 3: A new and transformative
relationship with nature
Under this scenario, the pandemic results in significant
changes in humanity’s perception of our planet and our
relationship to nature. Nations share a dramatic
pandemic experience together, resulting in a shared
bond with the planet and with each other. There is a new
appreciation that the global pandemic is a result of the
way consumer-driven societies are degrading and
misusing nature. The central role governments have
played in leading a societal response to a global crisis
raises the importance of the collective in human
consciousness. The pandemic raises global under-
standing of the two intertwined major crises: climate
change and biodiversity loss61. There is a new
appreciation of the value of clear water and blue skies
that have been an incidental benefit of the global
pandemic shutdown. Science and its role in helping
solve human problems have risen to the fore. The
pandemic promotes a collective understanding of the
immensity of the biodiversity and climate challenge,
showing that transformative change is possible.
Oil prices fail to recover much, reducing profitability of
the industry and creating the opportunity to shift away
from fossil fuels. Under this scenario, governments and
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 15
their citizens see an unprecedented opportunity for the
world to transition to a new, nature-friendly and
climate-friendly future, including the protection and
restoration of enough healthy natural land and sea to
sustain all life on Earth.
While economic recovery will still be a global priority, it
will be a green economic recovery. As governments seek
to reboot their economies after COVID-19, vast sums of
money will be invested. Nations decide to use this as a
once-in-a-generation opportunity to correct the course
of economic development towards more sustainable
outcomes. Economists, central bankers and finance
ministry staff from around the world have already
identified natural climate solutions and rural support
for ecosystem restoration as policies that will generate
both economic multiplier effects and climate benefits
(Hepburn et al., 2020). Increased investment in
restoration would both help reverse degradation in
protected areas and help re-establish connectivity
outside and amongst protected areas. Such an
investment strategy would put protected areas and
conserved areas at its heart.
This scenario results in dramatic conservation actions
by countries, ambitious new plans under the CBD and
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, and an agreed global plan to help nature
recover. International institutions are properly funded
for the task. Natural or nature-based solutions involving
protected and conserved areas and ecological
restoration are seen as the preferred response to a range
of human challenges, from biodiversity loss to carbon
storage and sequestration, and from disaster risk
reduction to improving human physical and mental well
-being. Human populations get better at living with
wildlife and reducing conflict. Healthy nature,
stewarded in protected and conserved areas, is the
backbone of a recovering planet, with diversified
funding sources, including but not limited to sustainable
tourism. Encouragingly, leaders from many parts of the
planet, notably the European Union, Costa Rica,
Finland, New Zealand and Canada, have already
signalled their intention to embrace this opportunity in
their recovery plans.
Neither scenario 1 nor 2 offers a bright future for
humanity. Scenario 3 is the only sustainable pathway
and this Call for Action is a contribution to its delivery.
The Call is made up of three elements: core principles,
actions and a commitment from the IUCN’s World
Commission on Protected Areas. As the impacts of the
pandemic evolve and are better understood, additional
action may be needed by a range of stakeholders,
including governments, the private sector and civil
Parque Nacional Zona Marina del Archipiélago de Espíritu Santo, Gulf of California, Mexico © Marc Hockings
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 16
Core principles to guide us
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent
need to change the relationship between people and the
natural environment, especially in the case of protected
and conserved areas. A response to the current
pandemic should be based on the following principles:
Principle 1: COVID-19 is a symptom of the wider
environmental crisis arising from unsustainable
economic processes which lead to the abuse of nature,
including the degradation and fragmentation of natural
ecosystems and the high-risk wildlife trade. Any
response strategy needs to address all aspects of this
environmental degradation, and include mechanisms
which can contribute to combatting them, such as
effectively and equitably managed networks of
protected and conserved areas.
Principle 2: We must commit to and act to
achieve a healthy, sustainable planet. This
requires a One Health approach which crosses the
human–animal–ecosystem interface, and for the global
community to make the conservation of nature a central
part of its responsibilities. An integrated response from
all sectors – environment, health, finance, food,
business and civil society – must become the norm,
both now and over the longer term.
Principle 3: Protected and conserved areas
provide broad benefits to society, but these are
now under severe stress due to our societal
response to COVID-19. Protected and conserved
areas safeguard nature, but also protect us from the
dangers of climate change and provide livelihoods and
enhanced well-being, income, clean water, clean air and
green spaces for everyone’s physical and mental health.
However, the current situation is placing enormous
stress on many of these areas, and the collective
response of relevant actors in the short, medium and
long term will be crucial in determining their future.
Three phases of action
We call on the global community to come together for
the rescue, recovery, and the rebuilding and expansion
of the global network of protected and conserved areas.
By global community, we mean governments at all
levels and all relevant sectors, civil society and business.
1. Rescue: an immediate emergency response to
cushion the shock from COVID-19
Maintain and invest in essential services: There is an
urgent need to ensure the well-being of the protected
and conserved area governance and management
authorities, namely the managers, rangers, staff and
volunteers. It may be necessary to control access to
protected areas to minimise the risk of local
communities, visitors and staff catching the virus.
Special attention should be given to Indigenous peoples
and local communities who are managing these sites or
living around them. In many cases, this will include
income support, as well as personal protection from the
impacts of COVID-19.
Draw up and implement emergency plans: Operational
levels of management and enforcement must be
maintained or even enhanced in protected and
conserved areas to achieve a level of effectiveness that
sustains biodiversity and ecosystem services, and
reduces the risks from human–wildlife conflict.
Emergency protection plans should be drawn up and
implemented to address poaching threats and other
negative consequences of the pandemic. Such plans are
vital where wildlife is likely to be susceptible to the
pandemic, in particular non-human primates.
Provide emergency funding: Many protected and
conserved areas that have seen major drops in income
will need emergency financial support (along the lines of
existing bailout packages for airlines, small businesses,
etc.) to protect nature and to support the human
populations that depend on these areas. Emergency
funding plans should include support for the well-being
and the food security of vulnerable communities
managing, or living in or near, protected and conserved
Maintain monitoring: Existing monitoring systems
should be maintained wherever possible. New
monitoring programmes should be developed to assess
impacts of COVID-19 on, for example, visitor numbers,
patrolling effort, human–wildlife interface, levels of
resource harvesting, human–wildlife conflict, well-being
of communities and ecosystem services. Monitoring of
local fisheries and mariculture/aquaculture, as well as
monitoring, control and surveillance measures for
commercial fisheries, should be maintained to assist in
the recovery, restoration and resilience of many marine
and coastal protected and conserved areas.
Maintain existing laws: During and after this pandemic,
national and regional governments should refrain from
postponing, weakening or terminating environmental
laws, regulations and initiatives, including those that
affect natural ecosystems and protected and conserved
2. Recover: a plan to overcome the damaging
effects of COVID-19
Promote the health benefits of these areas: Moving past
the immediate pandemic outbreak, it will be important
to recognise and promote the role of protected and
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 17
conserved areas in sustaining human physical and
psychological health, especially after a long period of
lockdown or enforced isolation. Protected and
conserved areas that allow visitation should aim to
reopen where disease risks permit, using appropriate
social or physical distancing rules.
Integrate health into recovery plans for these areas:
Policies, management plans and practices need to be
reviewed in order to reduce the risk of future zoonotic
transmission. This means support for an integrated One
Health strategy that examines and measures ecological
integrity, wildlife health and public health needs in and
around protected and conserved areas.
Create the foundation for sustainable finance: National
economic recovery plans should include measures for
the conservation and restoration of nature.
International support will be needed for lower and
middle-income nations. Any recovery strategy should
recognise that many protected and conserved areas
have been chronically underfunded, and that the world
needs more of these areas with better levels of
management rather than merely a return to pre-
pandemic conditions. Support can take many forms,
including direct economic stimulus through policies and
sustainable finance options that generate economic
multiplier effects. Where possible, the aim should be
both to benefit protected and conserved areas and
address climate change using natural solutions and
support for ecosystem restoration.
Adopt a sustainable and equitable recovery: Restored
and increased funding should ensure the re-
establishment of conservation services and systems in
protected and conserved areas, including rebuilding
resource management programmes, re-employing
furloughed staff and supplying back pay. It should
support Indigenous peoples and local communities,
women and youth living in and around these areas.
Lasting conservation success can only be built on equity
and benefit sharing.
Restore management capacity: Many protected and
conserved areas are critically short of management
capacity, and managers now face new challenges.
Large, wellconnected, and wellmanaged protected and conserved areas will be an important element of rebuilding; Okavango Delta,
Botswana © Marc Hockings
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 18
Capacity building is therefore needed in the
management of protected and conserved areas,
especially in sustainable financing, disaster
preparedness, and integrated wildlife and human health
Avoid harm: Plans for restoration and new protected
and conserved areas should apply a “Do No Harm”
approach to ensure that economic recovery efforts do
not support activities that threaten the environment or
the well-being of Indigenous peoples and local
3. Rebuild Stronger, starting now: a strategy to
put protected and conserved areas on a more
secure and effective trajectory
Help avoid a new pandemic: As part of a One Health
approach, there is an urgent need to identify areas
where there is a high risk of the emergence of zoonotic
diseases and target these areas for integrated land-use
planning and implementation. This should include the
establishment of integrated monitoring systems for
early detection of, and response to, emerging infectious
diseases events. This will require improved
collaboration between the environment, health,
agriculture and land-use sectors.
Address wildlife trade from protected and conserved
areas: Protected and conserved areas are a major
source of animals taken from the wild, legally and
illegally. In response to COVID-19, China temporarily
banned the consumption of and trade in meat from
most species of terrestrial wildlife, and there have been
many calls to ban or restrict various forms of trade in
wildlife more broadly. However, the context of wild
meat consumption varies greatly around the world, and
there may be unintended consequences of blanket bans.
Strategies and plans for dealing with this issue in
protected and conserved areas must be sophisticated
and based on careful assessments of the local contexts
and likelihood of unintended negative impacts.
Rights-based approaches: This time of change is also
the moment to engage local communities and
Indigenous people in more effective and equitable
partnerships, and for governments to recognise and
protect Indigenous peoples’ rights to sustainable self-
determination and effective conservation in their
territories and in pursuing their own pathways to
conservation and climate action. Increased funding is
needed to support local communities in their efforts to
sustain and rebuild livelihoods through the
development of sustainable and resilient enterprises.
Innovative funding: Biodiversity is a global public good
and biodiversity conservation should be funded as such.
Innovative and diversified approaches are needed to
ensure more resilient models of finance and
management for protected and conserved areas, and
dependent communities, so that they can better
withstand future shocks and sustain the ecological
resource base. The conservation of protected and
conserved areas should be mainstreamed into every
nation’s central policies and decision frameworks for the
production and consumption of resources. Greater
investment in protected and conserved areas, and in
communities as their effective stewards, would be a
worthwhile insurance against future zoonotic diseases.
Set aspirational funding targets: The global community
needs to be far more ambitious in terms of funding for
nature, including protected and conserved areas. While
developing a specific international target for funding the
conservation of biodiversity will of course require
research and negotiations between countries, the next
Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological
Diversity could develop a target figure and promote it
through the UN General Assembly. The internationally
agreed target for development assistance – that
economically advanced countries should aim at a net
amount of 0.7 per cent of gross national product62 – is a
model that should be considered for conservation for the
post-2020 Biodiversity Framework.
Strengthen the international framework for protected
and conserved areas: Global treaties, notably the
Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change, are
fundamental in moving to a truly sustainable planet. In
light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,
governments now need to come together under both
Conventions to strengthen protected and conserved
areas, so that these places can play their role in
preventing future pandemics and building a recovery
that benefits people and nature. A High Ambition
Coalition for the upcoming Conference of the Parties of
the Convention on Biological Diversity, including
France, Germany and Costa Rica, is advocating for at
least 30% of land and waters under protection by 2030.
WCPA commitment
The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) will
establish a Task Force to collect and analyse information
on the impacts of COVID-19 on protected and conserved
areas which will link with other work on COVID-19 by
IUCN63. With others, we will develop, refine and
promote the Call for Action. As global leaders on
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 19
protected areas64, WCPA will develop principles and
good practice for protected and conserved areas across
the three phases of the response to the pandemic
rescue, recovery and rebuilding. In 2021, we will take
these ideas to global policy meetings, including the
IUCN World Conservation Congress, the Convention on
Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change. We will collaborate on this agenda
with other members of the IUCN family and promote a
One Health approach to maintaining healthy
ecosystems to governments, sectoral ministries,
companies, human rights groups and others.
1Protected area follows the IUCN definition (Dudley, 2008).
Conserved area is used here as an informal term to describe
“areas sustaining ecological integrity and/or effective in situ
conservation of nature” (Jonas & Jonas, 2019). Conserved areas
include but are not limited to ‘other effective area-based
conservation measures’ (IUCN-WCPA, 2019).
5Pers. comm. Candice Stevens, Wilderness Foundation Africa,
South Africa
6Pers. comm. Sebastian Troëng, Conservation International
8Pers. comm. Anna Behm Masozera, Director, International Gorilla
Conservation Programme.
9Chris Weaver and Tapiwa Makiwa, Covid-19 threatens the legacy
of long-term investment and success in the community-based
conservation programme of Namibia
10Pers. comm. Augusto Efrain Granda Guaman, President of the
Ecuadorian Ranger Association
11Pers. comm. Julia Miranda Londono, Parques Nacionales
Naturales de Colombia
12Pers. comm. Michel Masozera, Deputy Leader for Africa, Wildlife
Practice, WWF
13Pers. comm. Rohit Singh, Enforcement & Capacity Building
Specialist, WWF
16Pers. comm. Felipe Spina Avino, WWF Brazil.
18Pers. comm. Rudie van Vuuren, N/a’an ku sê Foundation
23Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Yale
Environment 360 Digest 7 May 2020
24Ghana Gurung, Pers. comm. Based on a preliminary review of
unpublished case data from 11 protected areas in Nepal
conducted by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife
Conservation (DNPWC) and WWF Nepal
27Pers. comm. J.Goodrich, Panthera
30Pers. comm. Sebastian Troëng, Conservation International
34Pers. comm. WWF Mexico
35Pers. comm. Chris Galliers, International Ranger Federation
37Pers. comm. Michael Brooke, Zoology Department, Cambridge
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62UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/2626(XXV) of 24
October 1970 states (para. 43): “Each economically advanced
country will progressively increase its official development
assistance to the developing countries and will exert its best
efforts to reach a minimum net amount of 0.7 percent of its gross
national product … by the middle of the Decade.”
63 and https://
The preparation of this Editorial Essay has involved
many peoplenot only the many authors of this paper
but also others in their networks who provided the many
personal communications contained in the endnotes.
We also want to particularly acknowledge the tens of
thousands of rangers and members of Indigenous and
local communities around the world who continue to
provide care and protection to their protected and
conserved areas in spite of the difficult circumstances
resulting from the pandemic.
Marc Hockings is Emeritus Professor at the
University of Queensland and Vice-Chair (Science and
Management) with the IUCN WCPA.
Nigel Dudley is co-founder of Equilibrium Research, a
consultant and a member of the WCPA.
Wendy Elliott is Deputy Leader, Wildlife Practice at
WWF International.
Mariana Napolitano Ferreira is Head of Science
(WWF-Brazil) and coordinator of the Protected and
Conserved Areas Community with WWF.
Kathy MacKinnon is Chair of the IUCN World
Commission on Protected Areas.
M.K.S. Pasha is Conservation Assured|Tiger
Standards (CA|TS) Manager at WWF.
Adrian Phillips is a former Chair of IUCN WCPA
Sue Stolton is co-founder of Equilibrium Research a
consultant and a member of the WCPA.
Stephen Woodley is Vice-Chair (Science and
Biodiversity) with the IUCN WCPA.
Mike Appleton is Director of Protected Area
Management, Global Wildlife Conservation and Vice-
Chair for Capacity Development, IUCN WCPA.
Olivier Chassot is Chief Operating Officer at
Shellcatch Inc and member of the WCPA Connectivity
Conservation and Transboundary Specialist Groups.
Hockings et al.
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 21
James Fitzsimons is Director of Conservation and
Science and Director, Protect Oceans, Lands and
Waters with The Nature Conservancy’s Australia
Chris Galliers is President of the International
Ranger Federation. He works for Conservation
Outcomes in South Africa.
Rachel Golden Kroner is a social scientist at
Conservation International, and leads the PADDD-
tracker initiative.
John Goodrich is Chief Scientist and Tiger Program
Director for Panthera.
Jo Hopkins is Chair of the IUCN WCPA Health and
Well-being Specialist Group.
Bill Jackson is a member of WCPA and Adjunct
Professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast,
Harry Jonas is an international lawyer at Future Law
and co-chair of the IUCN-WCPA OECM Specialist
Barney Long is Senior Director of Species
Conservation with Global Wildlife Conservation.
Musonda Mumba leads the UN Environment
Terrestrial Ecosystems team at UNEP.
Jeffrey Parrish is the Global Managing Director for
Protection of Oceans, Lands and Waters at The Nature
Midori Paxton is the head of the Ecosystem and
Biodiversity Programme at UNDP and a member of
Carol Phua has worked with WWF for over 16 years.
She is the Global Coral Reef Initiative Manager and
MPA Lead at WWF Oceans Practice.
Raina Plowright is an infectious disease ecologist,
epidemiologist, and wildlife veterinarian and Assistant
Professor at Montana State University.
Madhu Rao is Senior Advisor for WCS based in
Singapore. She is a member of the WCPA’s Capacity
Development Initiative and a Strategy Advisor for the
IUCN SSC convened Asian Species Action Partnership .
Kent H. Redford is a conservation practitioner now
working at Archipelago Consulting in Maine, USA.
John G. Robinson is an IUCN Vice President and
Regional Councillor and holds an endowed chair with
Wildlife Conservation Society.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez is Minister of
Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.
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Gary Tabor is President of the Center for Large
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Sebastian Troëng is Executive Vice-President with
Conservation International.
Sean Willmore is a former ranger and founder of the
Thin Green Line Foundation.
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Author aliaons connued from page 7
9Global Wildlife Conservaon, Ausn, Texas, USA
10University for Internaonal Cooperaon, San José, Costa Rica
11The Nature Conservancy, Victoria, Australia
12School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia
13Internaonal Ranger Federaon, South Africa
14Conservaon Internaonal, Virginia, USA
15Panthera, New York, NY, USA
16IUCN WCPA Health and Wellbeing Specialist Group
17Thin Green Line Foundaon, Victoria, Australia
18Future Law, Sabah, Malaysia
19United Naons Environment Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
20The Nature Conservancy, Denver, CO, USA
21United Naons Development Programme, New York, NY, USA
22WWF Oceans Pracce, Brisbane, Australia
23Dept of Microbiology and Immunology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA
24Wildlife Conservaon Society, Singapore
25Archipelago Consulng, Portland, ME, USA
26Wildlife Conservaon Society, New York, USA
27Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), Costa Rica
28IUCN Programme on Protected Areas, Switzerland
29IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group
30Wilderness Foundaon Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa
31Center for Large Landscape Conservaon, Bozeman, MT, USA
32Rainforest Trust, Virginia, USA
PARKS VOL 26.1 MAY 2020 | 24
Hockings et al.
La pandemia del COVID-19 está repercutiendo de manera dramática en la comunidad mundial, en la vida y la salud
de las personas, en sus medios de subsistencia, en sus economías y en sus comportamientos. La mayoría de
las pandemias de enfermedades zoonóticas, incluida la del COVID-19, surgen de la explotación no sostenible de la
naturaleza. Este editorial especial ofrece una instantánea de cómo las áreas protegidas y conservadas de todo el
mundo están siendo afectadas por el COVID-19. Para muchas áreas protegidas y conservadas, los impactos negativos
en su capacidad de gestión, su presupuesto y su eficacia son significativos, al igual que las repercusiones en los
medios de subsistencia de las comunidades que viven en esas áreas y sus alrededores. Ofrecemos un comentario
sobre la capacidad de los sistemas de áreas protegidas y conservadas, gestionados de manera eficaz y equitativa,
para formar parte de una respuesta a la pandemia que disminuya las posibilidades de que se repitan
acontecimientos similares, y se construya un futuro más sostenible para las personas y la naturaleza. Concluimos el
editorial exhortando a la acción para el rescate, la recuperación, la reconstrucción y la expansión de la red mundial
de áreas protegidas y conservadas.
La pandémie de COVID-19 a un impact dramatique sur la communauté mondiale, sur la vie et la santé, les moyens
de subsistance, les économies et les comportements. L' origine de la plupart des pandémies de zoonoses, dont la
COVID-19, provient de l'exploitation non durable de la nature. Cet éditorial spécial donne un aperçu de la façon dont
les aires protégées et conservées dans le monde sont affectées par la COVID-19. Pour de nombreuses aires protégées
et conservées, les impacts négatifs s’avèrent importants au niveau de la capacité de gestion, les budgets et l'efficacité,
tout comme les impacts sur les moyens de subsistance des communautés vivant dans et autour de ces zones. Nous
fournissons un commentaire sur la façon dont les systèmes gérés et équitables des aires protégées et conservées
peuvent faire partie d'une réponse à la pandémie, en réduisant à la fois les risques de récurrence d'événements
similaires et en construisant un avenir plus durable pour les habitants et la nature. Nous concluons l'éditorial par un
appel à l'action pour le sauvetage, la récupération, la reconstruction et l'expansion du réseau mondial des aires
protégées et conservées.
... T he year 2020 was supposed to be a 'super year' for biodiversity conservation during which the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity would agree on ambitious targets for the next decade 1 . However, the COVID-19 pandemic has both postponed the decade's most important meeting in international biodiversity and caused unprecedented disruption to conservation activities [2][3][4] . Lockdowns dramatically interrupted on-site protected-area management activities in many countries 3 and introduced uncertainty and economic difficulties to local communities 5 , including from reduced tourism revenue 6 . ...
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There is little robust, quantitative information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the extinction crisis. Focusing on Madagascar, one of the world’s most threatened biodiversity hotspots, we explore whether the cessation of on-site protected-area management activities due to the pandemic were associated with increased burning inside protected areas. We identify monthly excess fire anomalies by comparing observed fires with those predicted on the basis of historical and contemporary fire and weather data for all of Madagascar’s protected areas for every month 2012–2020. Through to 2019, excess fire anomalies in protected areas were few, short in duration and, in some years, coincident with social disruption linked to national elections. By contrast, in 2020, COVID-19 meant on-site management of Madagascar’s protected areas was suspended from March to July. This period was associated with 76–248% more fires than predicted, after which burning returned to normal. At a time when international biodiversity conservation faces unprecedented challenges, our results highlight the importance of on-site management for maintaining protected-area integrity. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected a range of human activities, but its effect on land management is less clear. This study finds an increase in fires inside Madagascar’s protected areas during periods when management stopped due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
... Urban parks and open space are often important places for nature and for residents to experience nature. These spaces have been significant for city residents during COVID-19 lockdowns in many parts of the world, as places of exercise and contact with nature (Hockings et al. 2020;Ugolini et al. 2020). However, their governance and management are often fragmented, creating challenges for planning connectivity between parks and permeability of a city for nature (Ignatieva et al. 2008;Tzoulas et al. 2021). ...
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Australia is experiencing mounting pressures related to processes of urbanisation, biodiversity loss and climate change felt at large in cities. At the same time, it is cities that can take the leading role in pioneering approaches and solutions to respond to those coupling emergencies. In this perspective piece we respond to the following question: What are the required transformations for prioritising, valuing, maintaining and embracing nature in cities in Australia? We adopt the mission framework as an organising framework to present proposed pathways to transform Australian cities as nature-positive places of the future. We propose three interconnected pathways as starting actions to steer urban planning, policy and governance in Australian cities: First, cities need to establish evidence-based planning for nature in cities and mainstream new planning tools that safeguard and foreground urban nature. Second, collaborative planning needs to become a standard practice in cities and inclusive governance for nature in cities needs to prioritise Aboriginal knowledge systems and practices as well as look beyond what local governments can do. Third, for progressing to nature-positive cities, it is paramount to empower communities to innovate with nature across Australian cities. Whilst we focus on Australian cities, the lessons and pathways are broadly applicably globally and can inspire science-policy debates for the post COP15 biodiversity and COP26 climate change implementation processes.
... For example, are there changes to monitoring in protected areas (PA), which are considered vital for biodiversity conservation (Brooks et al., 2004;Buckley et al., 2008;Worboys et al., 2015) and often dominate traditional conservation efforts (Joppa and Pfaff, 2011)? In some countries, reduced income and fluctuating visitation patterns, particularly in tourism-dependent economies, resulted in reduced management activities such as species monitoring and protection, along with a range of other impacts (Hockings et al., 2020;Miller-Rushing et al., 2021). Does reduced access to PA also affect CS observations? ...
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The global COVID-19 pandemic has imposed restrictions on people's movement, work and access to places at multiple international, national and sub-national scales. We need a better understanding of how the varied restrictions have impacted wildlife monitoring as gaps in data continuity caused by these disruptions may limit future data use and analysis. To assess the effect of different levels of COVID-19 restrictions on both citizen science and traditional wildlife monitoring, we analyse observational records of a widespread and iconic monotreme, the Australian short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), in three states of Australia. We compare citizen science to observations from biodiversity data repositories across the three states by analysing numbers of observations, coverage in protected areas, and geographic distribution using an index of remoteness and accessibility. We analyse the effect of restriction levels by comparing these data from each restriction level in 2020 with corresponding periods in 2018–2019. Our results indicate that stricter and longer restrictions reduced numbers of scientific observations while citizen science showed few effects, though there is much variation due to differences in restriction levels in each state. Geographic distribution and coverage of protected and non-protected areas were also reduced for scientific monitoring while citizen science observations were little affected. This study shows that citizen science can continue to record accurate and widely distributed species observational data, despite pandemic restrictions, and thus demonstrates the potential value of citizen science to other researchers who require reliable data during periods of disruption.
... There have also been increases in the frequency and amount of visitation to green spaces and natural parks (Day, 2020;Lu et al., 2020) that are dependent on country-or region-specific lockdown regulations. These have resulted in management and enforcement impacts and direct ecological impacts (Hockings et al., 2020). ...
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1. Envisioning processes enable protected area managers to chart a course for future management to reach desired goals, but unexpected changes that could affect future visions are not usually considered. The global COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to explore changes in stakeholder visions, the values that underpin the visions, and their perceptions of landscape changes and the underlying drivers (e.g. climate change, mass tourism and demographic trends). 2. Through a mixed-methods approach in this post-evaluation study, we gathered comparative data on these issues from stakeholders in the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park, Spain, between July 2019 (pre-pandemic) and October 2020 (mid-pandemic). 3. Our qualitative analysis demonstrates that pre-pandemic, differences in visions for protected area management were largely spurred by different perceptions of drivers of change, rather than differences in values or perceived landscape changes, which were similar across different vision themes. 4. One year later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of stakeholders reported that their values, visions and perceptions of drivers did not change despite this large-scale disturbance. Of the 20%–30% of stakeholders that did report changes, visions generally shifted towards greater prioritization of biodiversity and nature conservation as a result of heightened perceptions of the impacts of drivers of change associated with an increase in the numbers of park visitors. These drivers included mass tourism, mountain recreation, lack of environmental awareness, and change in values and traditions. 5. Our findings reinforce the importance of adaptive and inclusive management of protected areas, including enhancing transparency and communications regarding factors driving change in the landscape, and integration of local and traditional knowledge and stakeholder perceptions of changes and drivers. Furthermore, management plans integrating stakeholder values have the potential to stay relevant even in the face of wildcard events such as a pandemic. 6. To enhance the relevancy of visions and scenarios in conservation and land-use planning, scenario planning methodologies should more strongly consider different potential disturbances and how drivers of change in the near and far future can be affected by wildcard events such as a pandemic.
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Las áreas protegidas y conservadas representan una de las estrategias de conservación más prominentes y críticas para asegurar la biodiversidad. A pesar de la creciente cobertura global de las áreas protegidas, quedan muchos desafíos por resolver, principalmente en relación con su gestión, pero también en la interfaz entre las áreas dedicadas a la conservación y las áreas productivas. Para preservar la biodiversidad y alcanzar los objetivos de conservación global, la gestión de áreas protegidas requiere enfoques innovadores y regenerativos que transforme la relación de los seres humanos con los lugares donde habitan e interactúan en un contexto de cambio permanente y dinámico, y así restaurar el equilibrio y la integridad de los ecosistemas. Revisamos las aproximaciones actuales y proponemos un enfoque que otorga un papel central y clave al ser humano en la recuperación de la salud de los ecosistemas terrestres y marinos para crear paisajes funcionales regenerativos.
Decision-makers discussing landmark agreements on health and biodiversity must include four actions to reduce the risk of animals and people exchanging viruses. Decision-makers discussing landmark agreements on health and biodiversity must include four actions to reduce the risk of animals and people exchanging viruses.
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The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affected parks and protected areas and overall recreation visitation across the United States. While outdoor recreation has been demonstrated to be beneficial, especially during a pandemic, the resulting increase in recreation visitation raises concerns regarding the broader influence of social, situational, ecological, and behavioral factors upon overall visitor experiences. This study investigated the extent to which recreation visitors’ behaviors and experiences have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic within the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF). A modified drop-off pick-up survey method was employed to collect population-level data from WMNF visitors from June to August of 2020 (n=317), at the height of the pandemic. Results from this mixed-method study suggest social factors (e.g., crowding and conflict), situational factors (e.g., access and closures), ecological factors (e.g., vegetation damage), behavioral factors (e.g., substitution), and sociodemographic factors (e.g., gender and income) significantly influenced overall visitor decision-making and experience quality within the WMNF. For example, more than one-third of visitors indicated the pandemic had either a major or severe impact upon their WMNF recreation experience. A more nuanced investigation of qualitative data determined that the majority of pandemic-related recreation impacts revolved around the themes of social impacts, general negative recreation impacts, situational and ecological impacts, and behavioral adaptation impacts. Moreover, historically marginalized populations (e.g., low-income households and females) within the sample reported significantly higher recreation experience impacts during the pandemic. This study demonstrates the influence of the pandemic upon outdoor recreation visitor experiences and behaviors and considers outdoor recreation as a central component within the broader social-ecological systems framework. This study demonstrates the influence of the pandemic upon outdoor recreation visitor experiences and behaviors and considers resource users a central component within the broader social-ecological systems conceptual framework. Management implications This study found that during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, social, situational, ecological, behavioral, and sociodemographic factors significantly influenced overall visitor decision-making andexperience quality: · Social and general recreation impacts were most common, with approximately 56% of the sample reporting these issues. · Results suggest significant crowding and conflict impacts stemmed from interactions between in-state and out-of-state visitors, largely based upon perceived violations of pandemic protocols. · Moreover, historically marginalized populations stated unique recreation impacts during the pandemic. For instance, visitors from low-income households reported significantly less substitution options as opposed to high-income visitors. · Female visitors perceived significantly more pandemic-related conflict than male visitors. Study findings suggest visitor crowding and conflict should be prioritized by resource managers, especially amongst historically marginalized populations. Resource managers should consider adopting a broader social-ecological systems approach to parks and protected areas management, particularly during a global pandemic.
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Background The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, which has an enormous effect on human lives and the global environment. This review aimed to assess the global scientific evidence on the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on natural resources using international databases and search engines. Thus, the unprecedented anthropause due to COVID-19 has positive and negative effects on natural resources. Main body This review showed that the unprecedented pandemic lockdown events brought a negative impact on the physical environment, including pollution associated with a drastic increase in person protective equipment, deforestation, illegal poaching and logging, overfishing, disruption of the conservation program and projects. It is noted that the spread of pandemic diseases could be aggravated by environmental pollution and a rapid increase in the global population. Despite these negative impacts of COVID-19, the anthropause appear to have also several positive effects on natural resources such as short term reduction of indoor and outdoor environmental pollutants (PM2.5, PM10, NO 2 , SO 2 , CO, and CO 2 ), reduction in noise pollutions from ships, boats, vehicles, and planes which have positive effects on aquatic ecosystems, water quality, birds behaviour, wildlife biodiversity, and ecosystem restoration. Conclusion Therefore, governments and scientific communities across the globe have called for a green recovery to COVID-19 and implement multi-actor interventions and environmentally friendly technologies to improve and safeguard sustainable environmental and biodiversity management and halt the next pandemic.
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Those developing the forthcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration stress the importance of ecosystem conservation whilst addressing the need to reverse ongoing losses to biodiversity and ecosystem services that have serious impacts on human livelihoods. We suggest six ways in which area-based conservation (protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures) could play a key role in the decade: 1. Best practice in restoration within protected areas and OECMs; 2. Using area-based conservation as a component in specific restoration approaches; 3. Maintenance of reference ecosystems and important species; 4. Bringing experience to ensure that all biomes are adequately represented in restoration; 5. Inclusion of a focus on species restoration; and 6. Support for restoration of ecosystem services. It is therefore important to ensure that area-based conservation is fully integrated into the planning and implementation of the Decade.
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The zoonotic virus now named SARS-CoV-2 first infected humans in China, and COVID-19 has rapidly become pandemic. To mitigate its impact on societies, health systems and economies, countries have adopted non-pharmacological preventive practices such as ‘spatial’ or ‘social’ distancing, the use of protective masks, and handwashing; these have been widely implemented. However, measures aimed at protecting physical health and healthcare systems have side-effects that might have a big impact on individuals’ wellbeing. As the pandemic reaches low- and middle-income countries, weaker health systems, limited resources and the lower socioeconomic status of their populations make halting the pandemic more challenging. In this article, we explore the impact of COVID-19 and its prevention measures on the wellbeing of vulnerable populations. Special attention must be given to homeless, indigenous, migrant and imprisoned populations, as well as people living with disabilities and the elderly. More than just resolute governmental action will be required to overcome the pandemic. Links between science and political actions have to be strengthened. Fighting COVID-19 is a collective endeavour and community action, on a global scale, is of paramount importance.
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The emergence of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which in humans is highly infectious and leads to the potentially fatal disease COVID-19, has caused tens of thousands of fatalities and huge global disruption. The viral infection may also represent an existential threat to our closest living relatives, the nonhuman primates, many of which have already been reduced to small and endangered populations. The virus engages the host cell receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2), through the receptor binding domain (RBD) on the spike protein. The contact surface of ACE2 displays amino acid residues that are critical for virus recognition, and variations at these critical residues are likely to modulate infection susceptibility across species. While infection studies have shown that rhesus macaques exposed to the virus develop COVID-19-like symptoms, the susceptibility of other nonhuman primates is unknown. Here, we show that all apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans, and all African and Asian monkeys, exhibit the same set of twelve key amino acid residues as human ACE2. Monkeys in the Americas, and some tarsiers, lemurs and lorisoids, differ at significant contact residues, and protein modeling predicts that these differences should greatly reduce the binding affinity of the ACE2 for the virus, hence moderating their susceptibility for infection. Our study suggests that apes and African and Asian monkeys are all likely to be highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, representing a critical threat to their survival. Urgent actions may be necessary to limit their exposure to humans.
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Emerging infectious diseases in humans are frequently caused by pathogens originating from animal hosts, and zoonotic disease outbreaks present a major challenge to global health. To investigate drivers of virus spillover, we evaluated the number of viruses mammalian species have shared with humans. We discovered that the number of zoonotic viruses detected in mammalian species scales positively with global species abundance, suggesting that virus transmission risk has been highest from animal species that have increased in abundance and even expanded their range by adapting to human-dominated landscapes. Domesticated species, primates and bats were identified as having more zoonotic viruses than other species. Among threatened wildlife species, those with population reductions owing to exploitation and loss of habitat shared more viruses with humans. Exploitation of wildlife through hunting and trade facilitates close contact between wildlife and humans, and our findings provide further evidence that exploitation, as well as anthropogenic activities that have caused losses in wildlife habitat quality, have increased opportunities for animal-human interactions and facilitated zoonotic disease transmission. Our study provides new evidence for assessing spillover risk from mammalian species and highlights convergent processes whereby the causes of wildlife population declines have facilitated the transmission of animal viruses to humans.
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A levy on fossil fuels can support and restore ecosystems that help to stem climate change. A levy on fossil fuels can support and restore ecosystems that help to stem climate change. A man rides a horse through rainforest in the Bribri indigenous territory in the Talamanca mountains, Costa Rica
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The United Nation's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 calls for reducing species extinctions, as it is increasingly clear that human activities threaten to drive species to decline. Yet despite considerable scientific evidence pointing to the detrimental effects of interacting threats on biodiversity, many species lack information on their exposure to cumulative human pressures. Using the most comprehensive global dataset on cumulative human footprint, we assess the extent of intense human pressures across 20,529 terrestrial vertebrate species' geographic ranges. We consider intense human pressure as areas where landscapes start to be significantly modified (a summed Human Footprint value at or above three on the index), which is where land uses such as pastureland appear. This threshold has been correlated with extinction risk for many species. We show that 85% (17,517) of the terrestrial vertebrate species assessed have >half of their range exposed to intense human pressure, with 16% (3328) of the species assessed being entirely exposed to this degree of pressure. Threatened terrestrial vertebrates and species with small ranges are disproportionately exposed to intense human pressure. Our analysis also suggests that there are at least 2478 species considered 'least concern' that have considerable portions of their range overlapping with these pressures, which may indicate their risk of decline. These results point to the utility of assessing cumulative human pressure data across species ranges, which may be a useful first step for measuring species vulnerability.
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We evaluate methods to calculate the economic value of protected areas derived from the improved mental health of visitors. A conservative global estimate using quality-adjusted life years, a standard measure in health economics, is US$6 trillion p.a. This is an order of magnitude greater than the global value of protected area tourism, and two to three orders greater than global aggregate protected area management agency budgets. Future research should: refine this estimate using more precise methods; consider interactions between health and conservation policies and budgets at national scales; and examine links between personalities and protected area experiences at individual scale.