They provide inspiration and adventure, supply food and water, offer natural defences against climate change and support the livelihoods of millions of people.
What are they? They’re the world’s protected areas including national parks, nature reserves and community conserved areas and their future is the focus of the IUCN World Parks Congress which takes place 12-19 November in Sydney, Australia. The event will see more than 3,000 delegates from over 160 countries set the international agenda for managing some of the earth’s most valuable places.
The creation of protected areas is a rare global environmental success story. The most recent figures show that there are around 200,000 protected areas, covering around 14.6% of the world’s land surface and around 2.8% of the oceans. This has risen from only 1,000 protected areas just 50 years ago.
But despite successes in protected area coverage, more needs to be done if international targets to protect at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of coastal and marine areas are to be met by the end of the decade.
Decisions made at the World Parks Congress will be instrumental in helping increase the coverage and connectivity of protected areas and improving financial and management support for them, as well as ensuring that both wildlife and people benefit from their creation.