19 Nov 2018 Press release Ecosystems

With 15% of terrestrial and 7% of marine areas now protected, world on track to meet conservation targets.

  • More than 20 million km2 of the earth’s land surface and nearly 27 million km2 of marine areas are designated as ‘Protected Areas’
  • These figures indicate that the world is on track to meet important conservation targets.

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, 19 November 2018 - Around 15% of the world’s terrestrial area is better safeguarded by conservation measures, as well as over 7% of the world’s oceans, ensuring the world is on track to meet important conservation targets, according to the latest Protected Planet Report.

“The continued growth in protected areas around the world is essential for the future of biodiversity,” said Neville Ash, Director of United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). “In particular, the great increases in protection of the marine environment over the past two years will play a key role in restoring the health of the ocean, and is thanks to a strong collaboration between countries, Non-Governmental Organisations and international organizations. We look forward to discussions this week at the UN Biodiversity Summit further strengthening protection for nature, as well as recognizing the need to ensure protected areas are well resourced, and that wider action is taken to combat the multiple threats faced by biodiversity in and beyond protected areas.”

The Protected Planet Report, put forth by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the National Geographic Society, reviews the progress of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, which aims for the effective and equitable management of 17% of terrestrial and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

Protected Planet provides the essential information for decision-makers to base their decisions on achieving the existing targets, and most importantly to inform the approach for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework being discussed this week in Egypt.

“It is clear that there remain significant challenges to achieve all elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, but this report points out the substantive and important strides that have been made, and focuses attention on the gaps and opportunities, said Trevor Sandwith, Director of IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme. “Among these are the need to fully recognise and support the efforts being made by indigenous peoples and local communities, as well as private actors who conserve critical areas."

By July 2018, more than 20 million km2 of the earth’s land surface and nearly 27 million km2 of marine areas had been designated as ‘Protected Areas’ - locations that receive protection to achieve the long-term conservation of nature. This represents an increase in 0.2% of terrestrial and 3.2% of marine areas since the last report was published in 2016. Every month, new areas are being added and the online version of the report provides the latest information, as world leaders work to fulfil their agreed goals by 2020.

“Progress toward these targets is encouraging, but if we want to protect life on Earth, we must massively raise our ambition,” says Jonathan Baillie, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientist at the National Geographic Society. National Geographic’s support of the Protected Planet report aims to clearly define progress and celebrate nations that are taking the lead in ensuring a healthy planet.

Protected Planet® provides the most up-to-date and complete source of information on protected and conserved areas at the global level. For example, the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area – added to the World Database on Protected Areas in 2017 – is now the world’s biggest protected area at over two million square kilometres. Thanks to its designation, fishing is now banned in 432,000 square miles of this Antarctic reserve, in attempt to preserve over 16,000 species, including the Adelie Penguin and Minke Whale The site is managed by the governments of New Zealand and United States of America.



Read the Protected Planet Report  

About Protected Planet:

Protected Planet is the most up to date and complete source of information on protected areas, updated monthly with submissions from governments, non-governmental organizations, landowners and communities. It is a publicly available online platform where users can discover terrestrial and marine protected areas, access related statistics and download data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA).

About UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)

UNEP-WCMC is the specialist biodiversity Centre of UN Environment. UNEP-WCMC operates as a collaboration between UN Environment and WCMC, a UK charity that promotes for public benefit the conservation, protection, enhancement and support of nature and natural resources worldwide. Amongst its other work, UNEP-WCMC curates and analyses data that increase the knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and the conservation of nature. Good data are the foundation of informed decision-making and UNEP-WCMC works with many partners to help them develop their knowledge and capacity to make good decisions.  

About International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its more than 1,300 Member organisations and the input of more than 10,000 experts. IUCN has become a global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a leading non-profit that invests in bold people and transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, storytelling and education. The Society aspires to create a community of change, advancing key insights about the planet and probing some of the most pressing scientific questions of our time, all while ensuring that the next generation is armed with geographic knowledge and global understanding. Its goal is measurable impact: furthering exploration and educating people around the world to inspire solutions for the greater good. 

For more information, contact:

Niamh Brannigan, United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre