1 Tahrcountry Musings: Comprehensive landscape assessments of protected area networks

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Comprehensive landscape assessments of protected area networks

Dynamic performance assessment of protected areas
Christopher P. Barbera, Mark A. Cochranea, b, , Carlos Souza Jr.b, , Adalberto VerĂ­ssimob
Biological conservation, Volume 149, Issue 1, May 2012, Pages 6–14

For preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services protected area networks have been established worldwide, but are they effective in delivering what has been intended? The authors of this paper say empirical coarse-scale assessments of this question across large regions, or even globally, tend to answer “yes”, while fine-scale studies of individual protected areas often and repeatedly answer “no”.

The researchers conducted a first fine-scale analysis of Brazil’s extensive Amazonian protected area network (1.8 million km2) and quantitatively estimated conservation effectiveness against the backdrop of changing human development pressures in the surrounding landscape. The overall network maintained intact forest cover for 98.6% of protected forest lands. This is in tune with previous coarse-scale studies. A detailed examination of 474 individual protected areas gave a different picture.

The researchers say many protected areas (544,800 km2) experience default protection due to their remoteness only. Some others (396,100 km2) provided highly effective protection in the face of substantial human development pressure.  12% (38) of protected areas failed to protect the 27,300 km2 that they encompass. Another 7% (23) provided only marginal protection for 37,500 km2.

Based on their assessment the authors contend that Comprehensive landscape assessments of protected area networks, with frequent monitoring at scales matching the patterns of human-caused disturbances, are necessary to ensure the conservation effectiveness and long term survival of protected areas in rapidly changing landscapes. The reiterate that the methods presented here are globally adaptable to all forested protected areas.

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