CHow to Ex­pand Pro­tected Ar­eas by 2020

Diplomat East Africa - - Table of Contents - By EDGAR NYANDONG

A2020 tar­get for the ex­pan­sion of pro­tected ar­eas on land and sea could be met if in to the con­ser­va­tion of bio­di­ver­sity and ecosys­tems is pri­ori­tised, says a new re­port by the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­gramme (UNEP).

Cur­rently, 15.4 per cent of ter­res­trial ar­eas and 3.4 per cent of oceans glob­ally are marked as pro­tected ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to the Pro­tected Planet Re­port 2014, which was jointly pro­duced by UNEP’s World Con­ser­va­tion Mon­i­tor­ing Cen­tre ( WCMC) and the In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN).

“We now need to build sup- port and fund­ing to en­sure pro­tected ar­eas are ef­fec­tively and eq­ui­tably man­aged, and cover enough im­por­tant sites for bio­di­ver­sity and ecosys­tem ser­vices, in­clud­ing marine pro­tected ar­eas,” said Mr Achim Steiner, UN Un­der-Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral and UNEP Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor dur­ing the re­lease of the re­port at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Syd­ney, Australia.

The re­port was funded by the Swiss Fed­eral Of­fice for the En­vi­ron­ment (FOEN) and is the sec­ond in a se­ries that mon­i­tors global ef­forts to sup­port and ex­pand pro­tected ar­eas, and sup­ports gov­ern­ments achieve faster progress in the ef­fort. Its find­ings show the grow­ing global aware­ness of the need to safe­guard the nat­u­ral re­sources that will have a cru­cial role in the up­com­ing Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs).

It is also be­ing used to track progress to­ward meet­ing Tar­get 11 of the Aichi Bio­di­ver­sity Tar­gets (Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity). The tar­get calls for ef­fec­tively and eq­ui­tably man­aged con­ser­va­tion ar­eas cov­er­ing at least 17 per cent of the world’s ter­res­trial ar­eas and ten per cent of marine ar­eas by 2020.

“We are com­mit­ted to en­sure that our prom­ises are not empty. What we need to see be­hind those fig­ures are pro­tected ar­eas that are well and eq­ui­tably man­aged, healthy, strong and able to de­liver the full range of benefits that are es­sen­tial for the sur­vival of bio­di­ver­sity and the well-be­ing of peo­ple around the world,” said IUCN Direc­tor Gen­eral, Ju­lia Mar­ton-Le­fevre.

How­ever, the re­port has found that the phys­i­cal cov­er­age as­pect of the tar­get could be met, ex­cept for a lack of progress in other ar­eas. For ex­am­ple, en­sur­ing pro­tected ar­eas are ap­pro­pri­ately lo­cated in ar­eas im­por­tant for bio­di­ver­sity and ecosys­tem ser­vices, are ef­fec­tively and eq­ui­tably man­aged, and are well con­nected.

But 1.6 mil­lion km squared of new pro­tected ar­eas have been des­ig­nated since 2012, and the to­tal ad­di­tional global cov­er­age since 2010 equals 6.1 mil­lion km squared (an area al­most the size

of Australia), ac­cord­ing to the re­port’s statis­tics.

In­deed, de­spite the pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tions, the UNEP re­port warns that with­out con­certed global ac­tion on ap­pro­pri­ate tar­get­ing of ar­eas to come un­der pro­tec­tion, in­te­grated and im­proved na­tional plan­ning, and as­sess­ments of how pro­tected ar­eas are ef­fec­tively man­aged, the over­all tar­get will not be met.

PRO­TECTED AR­EAS

Th­ese ar­eas are es­sen­tial to the con­ser­va­tion of species, ecosys­tems and the liveli­hoods they sup­port, and also play a vi­tal part in adapt­ing to and mit­i­gat­ing the im­pacts of cli­mate change. They re­duce risks from nat­u­ral haz­ards and pro­vide a car­bon sink through forests, 7.8 mil­lion kms squared of which are in pro­tected ar­eas.

“Pro­tected ar­eas not only pro­vide us with a vi­tal eco­log­i­cal safety net but also play a vi­tal eco­nomic role through the valu­able ecosys­tem ser­vices they pro­vide, from sup­ply­ing wa­ter and tim­ber, to sus­tain­ing tourism.

“As we work to­ward a com­pre­hen­sive cli­mate agree­ment, with the next meet­ing shortly tak­ing place in Lima, and shape the post-2015 sus­tain­able devel­op­ment agenda, it is cru­cial to ex­pand pro­tected ar­eas in a tar­geted man­ner—thus sup­port­ing ef­forts to tackle cli­mate change, and pro­tect­ing bio­di­ver­sity and the ecosys­tem ser­vices that sus­tain all of us,” said Steiner.

An in­crease of ter­res­trial pro­tected area cov­er­age by about one mil­lion km squared has been achieved since 2010, 126,000km squared of which came since 2012. 20.6 mil­lion km squared of ter­res­trial and in­land wa­ter ar­eas are now cov­ered in to­tal. To cover 17 per cent of ter­res­trial and in­land wa­ters, 2.2 mil­lion ad­di­tion- al km squared of pro­tected ar­eas are needed.

Just over six mil­lion km squared of marine pro­tected ar­eas have been added since 2010, with 1.5 mil­lion km squared of this to­tal com­ing since 2012. In to­tal, 12 mil­lion km squared of the global ocean is now cov­ered.

While marine ar­eas are lag­ging ter­res­trial ar­eas in at­tain­ing the tar­get, real progress has been made in ar­eas within coastal wa­ters and na­tional ju­ris­dic­tion; reach­ing cov­er­age of 10.9 per cent and 8.4 per cent re­spec­tively.

How­ever, only 0.25 per cent of seas be­yond na­tional ju­ris­dic­tion are cov­ered by marine pro­tected ar­eas, demon­strat­ing a gap in con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and high­light­ing the ur­gent need to over­come chal­lenges in es­tab­lish­ing such ar­eas where na­tional gov­er­nance sys­tems do not ex­ist.

To meet the ten per cent tar­get in ar­eas within na­tional ju­ris­dic­tion, a fur­ther 2.2 mil­lion km squared of marine ar­eas will be re­quired. In ad­di­tion, 21.5 mil­lion km squared in the high seas need to be pro­tected for the tar­get of 10 per cent to be at­tained.

Re­cent in­creases at sea are mainly due to the estab­lish­ment of huge ar­eas in wa­ters around Australia, New Cale­do­nia and Bri­tain’s South Ge­or­gia and the South Sand­wich Is­lands. In 2014, New Cale­do­nia des­ig­nated all of its juris­dic­tional wa­ters as a marine pro­tected area, en­com­pass­ing an area of about 1.2 mil­lion km squared, the largest pro­tected area in the world.

If th­ese ar­eas were re­moved from the global marine statis­tics, cov­er­age would be halved to only 1.8 per cent of the global ocean area and 4.4 per cent of juris­dic­tional wa­ters

Just over six mil­lion km squared of marine pro­tected ar­eas have been added

with since 2010, 1.5 mil­lion km squared of this to­tal com­ing since 2012

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