Global protected area expansion is compromised by projected land-use and parochialism

On this web site, you can explore the results of the prioritization for the global protected area network expansion carried out by Conservation Biology Informatics Group of the University of Helsinki and published in Nature in December 2014. You can explore the results through interactive graphs and maps and download the main analysis results as spatial data and statistics. The main results are presented in form of four prioritizations: 1) Global priorities with present land use, 2) Global priorities with future (2040) land use, 3) National priorities with present land use, and 4) National priorities with future (2040) land use.

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Background: Global protected area expansion is compromised by projected land-use and parochialism

Protected areas are one of the main tools for halting the ongoing global biodiversity crisis. According to the Aichi Target 11 adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the protected area network should be expanded to at least 17 % of the terrestrial world by 2020.

The results of the analysis show that there is a very high potential to significantly increase the protection of terrestrial vertebrates by expanding the protected area network. With a coordinated global protected area network expansion to 17 % of terrestrial land, average protection of terrestrial vertebrate species ranges and ecoregions could triple from the present protection levels. However, to reach this, the expansion needs to be planned carefully and implemented in practice. The analysis also shows that the opportunity may be lost due to land-use change and uncoordinated actions between countries. If land use projections become real, hundreds threatened species could lose more than 50 % of their present effective ranges worldwide. However, when looking at the potential of the 17 % protection, the loss caused by uncoordinated protection actions is even greater than that introduced by land use change.

The analyses were based on several open data sources: IUCN Red List, WWF Terrestrial ecoregions, World Database on Protected Areas and Global Administrative Units Database and land use models developed at the University of Amsterdam. The analyses were carried out at the Conservation Biology Informatics Group of the University of Helsinki, using Zonation software. This web site was created by Open Science and Research Initiative AVAA team and Joona Lehtomäki and Tuuli Toivonen from the University of Helsinki.

Reference to the original paper: Montesino Pouzols, F. M., Toivonen, T., Di Minin, E., Kukkala, A. S., Kullberg, P., Kuusterä, J., Lehtomäki, J., Tenkanen, H., Verburg, P. H. & Moilanen, A. (2014) Global protected area expansion is compromised by projected land-use and parochialism. Nature, 516: 383-398.

A separate analysis on the global priorities for carnivore conservation was published in April 2016. See the interactive results here.