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MEA Bulletin - Guest Article No. 79 - Thursday, 29 October 2009
UNEP-WCMC Reviews Progress towards CBD’s Protected Area Targets
By Bastian Bomhard, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK
In 2004, parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the most comprehensive and specific protected area commitments ever agreed to by the international community. These commitments, which comprise the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), seek to establish and maintain “comprehensive, effectively managed and ecologically representative systems of protected areas” that, collectively, will significantly reduce the rate of loss of global biodiversity. The implementation of the PoWPA is thus expected to contribute to the three objectives of the CBD, the CBD’s strategic plan and 2010 biodiversity target, and the Millennium Development Goals.

More than 80 experts from more than 40 countries recently reviewed the implementation of the PoWPA at an international workshop held from 14-17 September 2009, on Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. On this occasion, Charles Besançon, the Head of UNEP-WCMC’s Protected Areas Programme, presented a report on progress towards the CBD’s 2010 and 2012 targets for protected area coverage (the full report is available at:

This report is a summary of recent studies by UNEP-WCMC and its partners in relation to one of the key PoWPA goals: the establishment of a global network of comprehensive, representative and effectively managed national and regional protected area systems in the terrestrial realm by 2010 and in the marine realm by 2012. Key findings highlighted in the report include:

Nationally designated protected areas cover 12.2% of the world’s land area, 5.9% of the world’s territorial seas, but only 0.5% of the world’s extraterritorial seas.
45% of 236 countries and territories have 10% or more of their terrestrial areas covered by protected areas, but only 14% of 194 countries and territories have 10% or more of their marine areas covered by protected areas.
13.5% of the world’s forest area is included in nationally protected areas; however, 46% of the 670 WWF terrestrial ecoregions with forest cover have less than 10% of their forest areas protected.
46% of the 821 terrestrial ecoregions analyzed and 82% of the 232 marine ecoregions have less than 10% of their area protected.

“Our report shows considerable progress in protection; however, it also shows that the world is unlikely to achieve one of the key PoWPA targets, i.e. to effectively conserve at least 10% of each of the world’s ecological regions by 2010/2012”, noted Besançon. The report also indicates that further studies are urgently required to assess the protection status of the world’s mountains, islands, drylands and freshwater ecoregions.

UNEP-WCMC monitors progress towards the CBD’s 2010 and 2012 protected area targets using the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), the largest assembly of data on the world’s terrestrial and marine protected areas. The WDPA is a joint project of UNEP and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), managed by UNEP-WCMC with the support of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).
Coad L., Burgess, N.D., Bomhard, B. and Besancon, C. 2009. Progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2010 and 2012 Targets for Protected Area Coverage. A technical report for the IUCN international workshop “Looking to the Future of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas”, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea, 14-17 September 2009. UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK.
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