The latest update to the Protected Planet Report 2016 shows that there are now just under 15,000 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) spread across 18.5 million square kilometres of ocean and sea. Up to 13% of territorial waters are now protected, and dramatic progress has been made towards achieving one of the goals of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
The new figures, announced at the CBD CoP13 in Cancun, were released by IUCN and the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), which compiles data on the world’s protected areas. The latest in the successful Protected Planet series, this report assesses how protected areas contribute to achieving the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and relevant targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The announcement comes after Mexico’s pledge to preserve an additional 650,000 square kilometres of land and sea, and place nearly a quarter of its terrestrial waters under protection.
Since April, the world has added an unprecedented 3.6 million square kilometres – an area larger than India – to the amount of ocean and sea covered by MPAs, taking the global total coverage beyond 5 per cent for the first time in history.
Commenting on the new figures, the head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, said: “It is not just about size of the area under protection but also about where these zones are located and how strong that protection really is.”
The Protected Planet Report 2016 recommends investing in protected areas to strengthen sustainable management of fisheries, control invasive species, cope with climate change and reduce harmful incentives, such as subsidies, which threaten biodiversity.
Full information can be found in the multi-dimensional resource Protected Planet produced by UNEP-WCMC in association with IUCN and compiled in partnership with 244 countries and territories. Protected Planet’s information, analyses, tools and reports are available to everyone and used by around 300,000 people every year.