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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milford Sound, New Zealand: Mitre Peak, the mountain at left, rises 1,692 m (5,550 ft) above the Sound.
An elephant safari through the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal, India

Protected areas are locations which receive protection because of their environmental, cultural or similar value. A large number of kinds of protected area exist, which vary by level of protection and by the enabling laws of each country or rules of international organization. Examples include parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. The term protected area includes Marine Protected Areas, which refers to protected areas whose boundaries include some area of ocean. There are over 108,000 protected areas in the world with more added daily, representing a total area of 19,300,000 km2 (7,500,000 sq mi), or over 13 percent of the world's land surface area, greater than the entire land mass of Africa.[1] By contrast, as of 2 February 2009, only 0.8 of one percent of the world's oceans are included in the world's ~5000 Marine Protected Areas.[2][3]

One definition, but not the only definition of protected areas, is provided by IUCN.


IUCN Definition

A protected area, when using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition, is:

A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

There are six IUCN Protected Area categories into which various protected areas may fall.


International commitments to the development of networks of protected areas date from 1972, when the Stockholm Declaration from the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment endorsed the protection of representative examples of all major ecosystem types as a fundamental requirement of national conservation programs. Since then, the protection of representative ecosystems has become a core principle of conservation biology, supported by key United Nations resolutions - including the World Charter for Nature 1982, the Rio Declaration at the Earth Summit (1992), and the Johannesburg Declaration 2002.

Globally, national programs for the protection of representative ecosystems have progressed with respect to terrestrial environments, with less progress in marine and freshwater biomes.


Some countries such as China, Madagasgar, Namibia and Venezuela place a protection category over lands, but provide little enforcement, such that the areas are not substantively protected from development or misuse.

Protected areas often involve the exclusion of resources users from the protected area. As such, they have been criticized for the displacement of local population.[4] Much of the new protected areas are in developing countries which makes the local population vulnerable.

In some places, wildlife is protected by armed guards, killing 'poachers' looking for subsistence.[5]

See also


  1. ^ "Conservation Refugees" by Mark Dowie. First published in Orion, November/December 2005. Re-published in The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006
  2. ^ Wood et al. 2008. Assessing progress towards global marine protection targets: shortfalls in information and action. Oryx 42:340-351
  3. ^ Protect Planet Ocean
  4. ^ Brockington 2002. Fortress Conservation: The Preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania
  5. ^

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