1 Tahrcountry Musings: Protected area impacts on a global scale

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Protected area impacts on a global scale

Global protected area impacts

Published online before print November 17, 2010, doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1713
Proc. R. Soc. B 7 June 2011 vol. 278 no. 17121633-1638

In this paper the researchers estimate the impact of PAs on natural land cover in 147 countries by comparing outcomes inside PAs with outcomes outside. This is an open access paper.


Protected areas play a very important role in conservation scenario. The authors presume that in future they will play a role in future climate policies too, as global payments may reward local reductions of loss of natural land cover.

The researchers use ‘matching’ (or ‘apples to apples’) principle for land characteristics. This is due to the fact that PAs very often are non-randomly distributed across their national landscapes. They say Protection tends towards land that, if unprotected, is less likely than average to be cleared. The research came up with the fact that for 75 per cent of countries protection does reduce conversion of natural land cover. For approximately 80 per cent of countries, the global results also confirm (following smaller-scale studies) that controlling for land characteristics reduces estimated impact by half or more. This researchers’ say shows the importance of controlling for at least a few key land characteristics. They also show that impacts vary considerably within a country (i.e. across a landscape): protection achieves less on lands far from roads, far from cities and on steeper slopes.

The researchers sign off saying that while planners are, of course, constrained by other conservation priorities and costs they could target higher impacts to earn more global payments for reduced deforestation.

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