Protected and Conserved Areas

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.

parkPhoto: © IUCN

In December 2022, 188 governments agreed on a ground-breaking agreement to address the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restore natural resources. The “Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework”, or GBF, consists of 4 goals and 23 targets for achievement by 2030, including a target to ensure that at least 30 per cent of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans are effectively conserved and managed. Below are some guidelines and other documents which may help you catch up on the recent developments concerning protected and conserved areas, by courtesy of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). 


Best Practice in Delivering the 30x30 Target: Protected Areas and Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures (2022): This guidance document identifies the best options for successful delivery of draft Target 3 of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Conserving at least 30% of the planet by 2030 – What should count? (2020): This brief seeks to bring clarity to the question of what could count toward the 30% global minimum target within the context of recognized area-based conservation measures and their ability to deliver positive long-term conservation outcomes. 

Strengthening the global system of protected areas post-2020: A perspective from the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (2020): This paper describes the WCPA’s perspective on priorities for supporting effective protected and conserved areas for the post-2020 era.

Guidelines for conserving connectivity through ecological networks and corridors (2020): These guidelines are based on the best available science and practice for maintaining, enhancing and restoring ecological connectivity among and between protected areas, other effective areas based conservation measures (OECMs) and other intact ecosystems.

Recognising and reporting other effective area-based conservation measures (2019): These guidelines provide information on how to apply the definition of OECMs at international, national, sub-national or local conservation levels and to report on OECMs to the World Database on Protected Areas and to the CBD. It explains the definition of “other effective area-based conservation measures”, along with tools and approaches recommended for identification, recognition, monitoring and reporting.

Guidelines for privately protected areas (2018): These guidelines address planning and management of privately protected areas (or PPAs) and the guidance is aimed principally at practitioners and policy makers, who are or may be involved with PPAs. Guidance is given on all aspects of PPA establishment, management and reporting, and information is provided on principles and best practices, with examples drawn from many different parts of the world.

IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas: Standard, Version 1.1 (2017): This standard describes a set of seventeen criteria categorised under four components, accompanied by 50 indicators, for successful conservation in protected and conserved areas. It provides an international benchmark for quality that motivates improved performance and helps achieve conservation objectives.