Measuring the extent and effectiveness of protected areas as an indicator for meeting global biodiversity targets. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences

UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK.
Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences (Impact Factor: 7.06). 03/2005; 360(1454):443-55. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2004.1592
Source: PubMed


There are now over 100000 protected areas worldwide, covering over 12% of the Earth's land surface. These areas represent one of the most significant human resource use allocations on the planet. The importance of protected areas is reflected in their widely accepted role as an indicator for global targets and environmental assessments. However, measuring the number and extent of protected areas only provides a unidimensional indicator of political commitment to biodiversity conservation. Data on the geographic location and spatial extent of protected areas will not provide information on a key determinant for meeting global biodiversity targets: 'effectiveness' in conserving biodiversity. Although tools are being devised to assess management effectiveness, there is no globally accepted metric. Nevertheless, the numerical, spatial and geographic attributes of protected areas can be further enhanced by investigation of the biodiversity coverage of these protected areas, using species, habitats or biogeographic classifications. This paper reviews the current global extent of protected areas in terms of geopolitical and habitat coverage, and considers their value as a global indicator of conservation action or response. The paper discusses the role of the World Database on Protected Areas and collection and quality control issues, and identifies areas for improvement, including how conservation effectiveness indicators may be included in the database to improve the value of protected areas data as an indicator for meeting global biodiversity targets.

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Available from: Mark Douglas Spalding, Aug 27, 2014
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    • "Indicators of conservation effectiveness with a spatial dimension are often measured using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) (Chape et al., 2005; Wood et al., 2008). However, these types of analyses are often hampered by incomplete or poor quality spatial data (Chape et al., 2005; Cros et al., 2014b; Visconti et al., 2013; Wabnitz et al., 2010). In the case of quantifying the amount of biodiversity protected by MPAs, a common problem is the absence of the protected area boundaries, and therefore the lack of polygons to overlay with biodiversity layers such as coral reefs, seagrass or mangroves which hinders its precise quantification in a GIS. "
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    ABSTRACT: The on-going loss of biodiversity calls for assessing the performance of conservation strategies. In the case of marine protected areas (MPAs), a common indicator of success is the amount of biodiversity protected within them. However, there are many cases where the information for the official MPA boundary is not available, making it difficult to precisely measure the indicator. A solution to this problem is to create circular buffers around the centre location of MPAs for which boundaries are missing, equivalent in area to that reported officially for the MPA. The Coral Triangle Atlas provides the opportunity to quantify more precisely the validity of using buffers as proxies for MPA boundaries both at national and regional scales in the Coral Triangle. We used 612 existing MPA boundaries, converted them into point data at their centroids and then created circular buffers of area equal to that of the MPAs’ original polygons. Errors in estimated area of protected coral reefs were used to measure the bias created by the centroid buffers. We obtained an underestimation of protected coral reef area, both at the scale of the Coral Triangle region and at a national scale when using centroid buffers, with a larger underestimation as more MPA boundary proxies were used. We found that the size of MPA does not have a significant effect on the percentage of bias when MPAs are smaller than 100 km2 at a national level, and smaller than 1000 km2 at a regional level. With less than 15% of the total MPAs in the CT region larger than 100 km2, these results suggest that using buffers at a national scale for small MPAs may be a good solution to missing boundaries and cheaper than trying to collect exact information if working at a national or multinational scale. However, for countries with large MPAs such as Indonesia, using this proxy system will tend to create a larger error. At a regional scale, such as the Coral Triangle region, an estimation of total protected coral reef using buffers as MPA boundaries proxies will produce a small underestimation, thus, producing conservative results of protected coral reef area. This study shows the importance of assessing the bias introduced by using proxies for MPA boundaries when measuring indicators of conservation target achievement for coastal and marine areas.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2016 · Ecological Indicators
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    • "Protected area networks represent one of the mainstays of worldwide conservation polices and are therefore central to current efforts to maintain biodiversity (Chape et al., 2005). Numerous species are highly dependent on protected areas for their continued persistence; occurring either entirely or largely within their bounds (Jackson and Gaston, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Protected area networks represent one of the mainstays of global conservation polices and are therefore central to current efforts to maintain biodiversity. However, a major limitation of most conservation strategies is their bias towards particular taxonomic groups and ecosystems, meaning that many taxa and habitats are often only incidentally protected as a by-product of inclusion within reserves. Here we investigate how effectively protected area networks, not specifically designated for freshwaters, support aquatic biodiversity in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), using data for water beetles, surrogates of overall macroinvertebrate diversity in these habitats. We explore the behaviour of different measures (α, β and γ) of both taxonomic and functional diversity at different spatial scales. Overall our findings highlight the contrasting performance of reserve systems in the maintenance of either taxonomic or functional diversity, as well as the importance of spatial scale. Iberian reserves perform relatively well in supporting taxonomic diversity of water beetles at the peninsular scale, but the same protected areas poorly represent functional diversity. Such a mismatch cautions against the use of any one diversity component as a surrogate for others, and emphasizes the importance of adopting an integrative approach to biodiversity conservation in aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, our results often show contrasting patterns at smaller spatial scales, highlighting the need to consider the influence of scale when evaluating the effectiveness of protected area networks.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Biological Conservation
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    • "according to the European Habitat Directive (Council of Europe, 1992). A proper management of protected areas, such as wetlands, should aim at decreasing the influences on them from external anthropogenic pressures (Chape et al., 2005; Martínez-Fernández et al., 2014a). However, the failure to perceive that wetlands are not standalone elements in the landscape and to understand or express the complexity of spatial relationships among hydrology and wetland vegetation, has led to an extensive loss of the most characteristic wetland habitats during the last decades (Turner et al., 2000; Cools et al., 2013; Martínez-López et al., 2014a). "
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    ABSTRACT: Semiarid Mediterranean saline wetlands are semi-terrestrial ecosystems, which yearly undergo dry periods of several months, and shelter a rich, endemic and sensitive biota. In the last decades, the expansion of agricultural irrigated areas in semiarid Mediterranean catchments has led to altered inputs of water and nutrients to lowland wetlands. Hydrological alterations have affected characteristic plant communities, resulting in the replacement of valuable halophilic salt marsh and salt steppe plant communities by more generalist and opportunistic taxa, such as Phragmites australis (reed beds). A spatio-dynamic model and library were developed that aimed to explain the spatial distribution of three characteristic wetland plant communities in a semiarid Mediterranean wetland site in response to hydrological pressures from the catchment. Wetland plant communities and watershed irrigated agricultural areas were mapped by means of remote sensing at several dates between 1984 and 2008 and were partly used as forcing inputs and validation data. A dynamic model was initially developed using Stella software and then converted into R language by means of the StellaR software. Spatial dimension was added including neighbourhood and spatial flow algorithms representing the dispersion of plant communities. The conversion between plant communities was caused by the increase in water inflows from the watershed, mediated by spatial parameters, such as the distance to ephemeral rivers and the flow accumulation map within the wetland site. Results of the model were in agreement with remote sensing data, showing that in 2008 salt steppe had lost a half of its original area, whereas salt marsh and reed beds expanded extensively. The model developed in this study is available online as an R library, including all necessary input data sets and maps and documentation to run it. The model library offers a flexible tool that suits the needs of both advanced modellers and neophytes. Free and open source software and online code sharing repositories are proposed as modelling tools for future research.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Ecological Modelling
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