Protected Areas

Climate Change and Protected Areas

también en EspañolProtected Areas Climate Change Specialist Group. Morelos, Mexico October 2015

Protected areas are now recognised as decisive tools for sustainable development and the fight against climate change. Beyond conserving species and ecosystems, protected areas provide essential ecological, social, and economic services – such as clean water, carbon storage, genetic reservoirs, disaster mitigation, and soil stabilisation – and for preserving our cultural heritage. Protected areas are important tools for adapting to climate change. If well managed, protected area networks can provide resilience to catastrophic events and connections across landscapes that allow plants and animals to move.

The Protected Area Climate Change Specialist Group (PACCSG) was created following the 6th World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, which made clear the importance of moving from a passive-isolated management of protected areas to an active-inclusive and collaborative approach working across many sectors. The PACCSG builds on the expertise and contributions of many climate change experts and practitioners and coordinates broadly to identify both long-term strategies and short-term actions aimed at three broad goals:

1. Enhance Awareness of Climate Change and its Impacts to Protected Areas and biodiversity in surrounding landscapes. Desired outcomes for this goal are that communities in and around PAs understand how climate change is affecting these landscapes and seascapes, biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods.

2. Promote the Capacity of Protected Area Managers to Respond to Climate Change. Desired outcomes will include development and dissemination of best practice guidelines and tools so that PA managers can effectively access and apply current knowledge and tools toward strengthening planning and management of PAs under a changing climate, now and into the future, to protect and connect key features and processes as landscapes transform and adapt to climate change.

3. Mainstream Natural Solutions and especially Protected Areas into Sectorial Strategies, Plans and Programmes for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change. Desired outcomes for this goal are that all sectors of society adopt protected areas as natural solutions in their climate change responses and that new coalitions are created to work together across protected areas, business, climate science, cultural boundaries and geographies to integrate Protected Areas into mitigation and adaptation strategies at all levels.

Key strategies to be pursued in the near future include the development of best practices and communication materials on the role of protected areas in providing natural solutions to climate change and dissemination of the materials to protected area managers around the world.


Leigh WellingSpecialist Group Chair:




Andrew RhodesSpecialist Group Co-Chair:




Work area: 
Climate Change
Protected Areas
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