Protected areas and land use

IUCN works to protect ecosystems, promote the sustainable use of landscapes and advance justice and equity in conservation.

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About protected areas and land use

Human activity, mostly for food production and forestry, is transforming landscapes. Today, one third of all land is degraded or degrading, which harms biodiversity and jeopardises essential ecosystem services such as carbon storage. Protected areas offer a solution. If effectively managed and fairly governed, such areas can safeguard nature and cultural resources, protect human health and well-being, provide sustainable livelihoods and so support sustainable development.

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81%

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of Key Biodiversity Areas not completely covered by protected areas

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59

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sites certified on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas

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33%

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of natural World Heritage sites threatened by climate change

Our work

Committing to an ambitious, interconnected and effective site-based conservation network that represents all areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services is crucial. Such a network must recognise the roles and custodianship of indigenous peoples and local communities. Their diverse use of biodiversity can be compatible with effective conservation.

- Marseille Manifesto

We work to establish practices, standards and policies that maximise the effectiveness of protected and conserved areas, promote the sustainable use of landscapes, and advance justice and equity in conservation. As the official advisor on nature to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, we evaluate potential natural World Heritage sites and monitor those sites already recognised as the planet’s most important protected areas.