Enhancing the role of protected areas for conservation and livelihoods

The IUCN System of Protected Areas Management Categories, if effectively applied, can be a powerful tool to strengthen the role of protected areas in conserving biodiversity and enhancing the livelihoods of people.This is the key message from the launching of the new publication “Guidelines for Applying the IUCN System of Protected Areas Management Categories”.

Guidelines for applying protected area management categories
  • Are certain “types” of protected areas more important than others?
  • Is the conservation community moving away from conservation towards development at the expense of people and nature?
  • Can protected areas fulfil everybody’s wishes?

This new publication represents the global standard for protected areas. It is the result of an extensive consultation process initiated by IUCN in 2002 to provide additional guidance for the objective and rigorous application of the IUCN System for Protected Area Management Categories.  The system has been applied in many countries since its adoption by IUCN in 1994, thus the new publication incorporates lessons learned from this application.

The IUCN System for Protected Area Management Categories is considered, together with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a leading product of IUCN.  It has been also recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a global standard for reporting and monitoring on protected areas worldwide. It is a key element in biodiversity assessments prepared through the World Database on Protected Areas; a joint product of UNEP and IUCN.


"The system is not only a common language on protected areas but also it is increasingly used to guide policy and decision making on the use of natural resources; such as in relation to extractive industries” says David Sheppard, Head of IUCN Programme on Protected Areas "Enhancing the application of the system should lead to better decisions and enhanced biodiversity conservation."

There are a number of important new features in the guidelines. Firstly it adopts a new definition of protected area which maintains emphasis on biodiversity conservation but retakes the roots of the protected area movement by focusing on “the conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”. Secondly it is a more practical and comprehensive document making it easier to apply by protected area managers and practitioners. Last but not least it encourages the application of different innovative governance models for protected areas across all the categories.

“This publication is a unique example of IUCN working at its best," says Nik Lopoukhine, Chair of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas." It is the result of joint efforts and consultations across the IUCN Secretariat, WCPA members, indigenous people’s organizations and a number of IUCN members. In this regard I would like to make special tribute to the hard and tireless work of Nigel Dudley, overall coordinator of this process, and to the valuable input provided by the members of the WCPA Task Force on Protected Areas Categories. WCPA has also been proud to count with the decisive support and active involvement of Junta de Andalucía, Generalitat de Catalunya and Fundación Biodiversidad, which contributions have been fundamental to this process. However this should not be seen as the end of this work but the beginning of long term efforts to further promote and apply the system worldwide as a key contribution to achieve global goals on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development”

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Djinn Pourkiani Communications Officer, IUCN Office, :Call this phone number in Spain with Skype: +34647776588"

Work area: 
Protected Areas
Protected Areas
Protected Areas
Environmental Governance
Protected Areas
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