China and Japan workshops on WDPA and strengthening the protected area information base
Maintenance of information in the WDPA database for three countries in Asia – China, Japan and the Republic of Korea – is a challenge that the WCPA, in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC, the Korea National Parks Service (KNPS) and the IUCN Regional Biodiversity Conservation, Asia (RBCP) has tackled with national workshops aimed at ensuring a common understanding of the global data standards, present national PA information systems and current data challenges.
Workshop participants included PA experts, WCPA members and representatives from various relevant ministries and departments. The national workshops also provided an overview of the WDPA and its data standards, the IUCN Protected Areas Management Category system and the aims of this project. Current progress in reviewing protected areas data in each country was presented, and followed by a discussion session.
The Korea workshop was held earlier in the year on the 24th of July. Workshops held in China on the 27th of November and Japan on the 29th of November brought out three key issues in the three countries
- Identifying the gaps between national PA data and WDPA: By comparing the data in the WDPA with the information held by national authorities, participants recognized that there are large data gaps, and reached a consensus about the necessity of enhancing the flow of national PA data to UNEP-WCMC.
- The definition of Protected Areas: Each country has many different kinds of PAs managed by a diverse array of agencies, each with its own PA perspectives. There were many debates and discussions about whether or not particular sites included on a country’s national PA list meet the IUCN or CBD definitions of a protected area. There were also debates about the relative merits of the CBD and IUCN definitions, particularly in relation to monitoring progress towards the achievement of Aichi target 11.
- How to assign the IUCN PA management categories: There was a great deal of discussion about the IUCN PA management categories and the methods and criteria for assigning these. It also became apparent that there were discrepancies between the categories assigned to particular sites in the WDPA and the categories assigned by national authorities. The IUCN PA management category guidelines have now been translated into Korean, Chinese and Japanese, and these will provide a valuable foundation for future training and capacity building. The WCPA is also developing generic guidelines on the assignment of PA management categories in cooperation with KNPS. Once this publication has been finalized, it should also be of considerable help to countries wishing to reassess their PA categories.
Reviewers for the three countries will continue to prepare datasets for updating the WDPA with support of relevant management bodies and experts. The project is due to be finished in the countries in June 2013.
The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the most comprehensive global dataset on marine and terrestrial protected areas. It is a joint product of UNEP and IUCN, prepared by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC) and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), in collaboration with governments and NGOs. The primary focus of the WDPA is the collation of the United Nations (UN) List of Protected Areas, an initiative mandated through the UN General Assembly in 1963. The WDPA is also used to report on the progress towards global targets, such as UN Millennium Development Goal 7 and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi Target 11, and to prepare the Global Biodiversity Outlook assessments. WDPA currently holds data on more than 200,000 PAs from around the world.