BANGKOK, Thailand - IUCN, WCPA and UNEP-WCMC bring together a wide range of government and nongovernmental partners to enhance the quality of protected area data across the Asia region.
Recognizing that the data within the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) a joint product by IUCN and UNEP, is far from being perfect, a process is about to be put in place that allows experts to review and improve the data. This is important as the WDPA is the only comprehensive global dataset on protected areas and used, for example, to report progress on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and the 2010 biodiversity target of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
As a first step towards establishing the expert review process, a workshop was held in Bangkok, which took stock of available protected area data for three pilot countries in Asia, discussed the methodology for the expert review and decided on the way forward. The workshop marked the start of an IUCN project funded jointly by UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and the Korea National Park Service (KNPS). It brought together project partners, government representatives from Indonesia, Korea and Thailand, nongovernment representatives from Conservation International, Fauna and Flora International, The Nature Conservancy and Wildlife Conservation Society, and members of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). As the most respected network of protected area expertise in the world, the WCPA is uniquely placed to review the data in the WDPA, and to liaise with governments and NGOs to fill gaps in data coverage.
Workshop participants helped to plan the practicalities of the expert review process, understand hurdles in country data collection and sharing, and find ways to overcome them. At the onset of the workshop, Indonesian, Korean and Thai representatives presented the protected area data held by their respective countries. This was then compared with the data currently held in the WDPA. Special consideration was given to issues such as the IUCN definition and management categories of protected areas, and whether or not GIS data exists for protected area boundaries. All this information is vital to creating a complete and accurate dataset on the world’s protected areas.
On the final day of the workshop, cohesive action plans were created for the expert review of WDPA data for the three countries. This included consideration of potential data reviewers, national data providers and country consultation visits. Peter Shadie, IUCN Regional Protected Areas Programme Coordinator, concluded the successful workshop noting that “the close collaboration of IUCN, WCPA, UNEP-WCMC, ACB and the Indonesian, Korean and Thai governments should serve as a model for the future of the WDPA in Asia and beyond”.
With their partners, UNEP-WCMC and IUCN are currently undertaking a complete redevelopment of the WDPA and its delivery mechanisms, which includes establishing quality assurance mechanisms such as the expert review process. Charles Besançon, Head of UNEP-WCMC’s Protected Areas Programme, noted “The pilot project in Asia will greatly help in determining the proper mechanisms to achieve our goal of a much improved WDPA which will be invaluable to our understanding of the world’s protected areas".