A recently released report by the United Nations has revealed that 14.7% of the Earth’s land is under conservation, a sign that the world is on the right track towards meeting the major conservation targets.
The 2016 Protected Planet report launched in Hawaii by UN Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has also shown that 12 per cent of its territorial waters is being protected another sign that global targets are on the verge of being achieved.
“However crucial biodiversity areas are being left out, key species and habitats are underrepresented and inadequate management is limiting the effectiveness of protected areas. This could be an impediment to conservation,” said UN Environment and IUCN in a statement.
“The huge gains in the number and size of protected areas made in the last decade have to be matched by improvements in their quality,” said UN Environment Head Erik Solheim.
He put UN Member States to task by advising them to put in more mechanisms to protect biodiversity by ensuring local communities were involved in conservation efforts.
“Communities will provide their own solutions. Protected areas need to be better connected, to allow populations of animals and plants to mix and spread,” he added.
IUCN Director General Inger Andersen said that the globe is facing critical environmental and societal challenges including climate change, food and water security.
“Protected areas play a major role in conserving species and ecosystems that help us confront these challenges. Ensuring that they are carefully mapped and effectively managed is crucial if we want to continue to prosper on this planet,” he said.
According to scientists at IUCN and UN Environment’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre, there are 202,467 protected areas today, covering almost 20 million square kilometres or 14.7 per cent of the world’s land, excluding Antarctica.
The Protected Planet Report 2016 assesses how protected areas contribute to achieving the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and relevant targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It highlights current research and case studies on the role protected areas play in conserving biodiversity and cultural heritage.