September 28, 2012

A Protected Planet Report

Set at the last Convention on Biological Diversity, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set goals out to the year 2020. A new report released by the IUCN and United Nations Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre addresses Target 11 – properly conserving 17 percent of terrestrial ecoregions and 10 percent of marine ecoregions by 2020. One of the components of Target 11 is connectivity, not only between protected areas, but also the integration into the context of a larger landscape.

The Protected Planet Report presents the state of the world’s protected areas. According to the report, as of 2010 12.7% of the world’s terrestrial area is under protection, storing 15% of terrestrial carbon stock, and contributing to the preservation of habitats critical to stemming species loss and people’s livelihoods. It also notes that important areas for biodiversity, also tend to contribute to the provision of critical ecosystem services, such as clean water, food and fuel, building materials, medicine, agricultural pollination, climate regulation via carbon sequestration, flood protection, and cultural services. Protected areas are classified by level of human intervention, from pure protection (Class I) to sustainable use of natural resources (Class VI). The latter has grown considerably in the past 20 years, increasing from 14% of total protected area in 1990 to 32% in 2010.

Connectivity was another important issue discussed in the report. The connections between habitats are important for the long-term health of many species, but also to build resilience of populations and ecosystem services in the face of global changes, such as climate change. There is additional discussion of spatial planning to integrate protected areas, buffer zones, and corridors to boost functional connectivity within a human-dominated landscape, as well as utilizing the land in the ‘matrix’ between habitats in a more sustainable fashion. While there are already examples of biological corridors around the world, augmenting these efforts is seen as crucial for long-term success in conservation. At the same time, conservation connectivity initiatives have been successful at forming partnerships that cut across political lines and sector, and aiding in the planning efforts within a larger landscape context.

Despite few mentions of agriculture, the messages from this publication are important and relevant for the goals of the Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, and particularly with regard to incorporating considerations for biodiversity conservation.

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