Story | 28 Sep, 2020

Algeria and Morocco acknowledge biodiversity value of Cultural Parks, Biosphere and hunting reserves through OECMs

By recognizing five Cultural Parks as 'Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures' (OECMs), Algeria is making a significant step towards reaching Aichi target 11, as the land designated under this category will grow by 1 Million Km2. Morocco will also be adding 130,000 Km2 by acknowledging its Biosphere reserves and hunting reserves.

Following a first workshop organized last February on identifying OECMs in 11 countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean region, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the initiative to unite all relevant stakeholders and national managing bodies in an online session held on 14 September, to report sites that could be potentially recognized as OECMS. Algeria is recognizing its five cultural parks as OECMs, which account for 1,000,000 Km2 towards advancing the Aichi Target 11.

In the same line, Morocco has been working internally in the process and will be adding 130,000 Km2 by recognizing its Biosphere Reserves and Hunting Reserves as OECMs. 

OECMs offer an excellent opportunity to acknowledge de facto effective long-term conservation which takes place outside currently designated protected areas.

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed on a definition, guiding principles, common characteristics and criteria for identifying ‘Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures’ at the 14th Conference of the Parties (Decision 14/8, November 2018). Now, state agencies, private entities, civil society organisations and local communities are turning to assess the extent of their potential OECMs and to begin to recognize and report them.

The IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (IUCN-Med) along with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, are supporting states in North Africa countries in this process with technical knowledge.

“Recognising Cultural parks, Biosphere and hunting reserves as OECMs will make a great step towards achieving the global Aichi target 11 (17% of terrestrial)”, explains Maher Mahjoub, North Africa Programme Coordinator at IUCN-Med. “By promoting OECMs, we intend to support national strategies, while mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into all sectors and acknowledging efforts on a national level”.

OECMs have an important potential for reaching Aichi Target 11 for many countries. Moreover, OECMs can enhance protection of areas of importance for biodiversity, increase connectivity and representativeness, while providing an alternative governance to the one from traditional protected areas. 

These decisions adopted by Algeria and Morocco will be formally communicated to the World Monitoring Conservation Centre, the CBD Secretariat, and UNEP. In this regard, CBD and UNDP are co-organising an event on Sept 28th as part of the Nature for Life Hub providing an opportunity for CBD Parties to announce their commitments in a form of video ( Six countries will be featured in that video and Algeria and Morocco and among them.

IUCN-Med and WCPA would like to congratulate Algeria and Morocco for their efforts in contributing to reach CBD Aichi Target 11.

This project is being made possible thanks to the support of the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity through the Regional Network.

For further enquiries, please contact Maher Mahjoub and Imen Meliane.