New Survey to Help Understand Threats to Protected Areas

The 2014 WWF Living Planet Report launched earlier this week demonstrated the value of protected areas in forestalling species decline.

Protected areas form an important part of global conservation efforts and generate a host of important values beyond species and habitat conservation. These values include economic such as tourism, fisheries, ecosystem services. Social, cultural, recreational, political, and option values are also important to consider. Our project will examine these values, how they can be protected, and how more value can be realised through new funding.

The Luc Hoffmann Institute with University of Oxford’s Smith School and WWF-UK is launching the project entitled Protected Areas as an Asset Class. It will explore how we safeguard protected areas such as national parks, nature reserves given the growing risks that threaten the important values they generate for humanity. Risks to protected areas include the illegal wildlife trade, land encroachment, extractive industries, and unsuitable infrastructure development.

As part of the project, researchers are seeking input from protected areas practitioners and those involved in the development of conservation policy. They have converted their draft framework into on online survey and are encouraging interested stakeholders to participate in it.

Josh Tewksbury, Director of the Luc Hoffmann Institute, said: “It is one thing to draw lines on a map, and it is quite another to ensure that a protected area actually protects biodiversity and supports people. Uncertainty surrounding the degree to which protected areas deliver for wildlife and for people is a growing problem. This work is part of a growing portfolio at the Luc Hoffmann Institute focused on measuring and improving the effectiveness of protected areas.”

Ben Caldecott, of University of Oxford’s Smith School stated, “This important project will help us better appreciate the importance of protected area assets and the multiple values they generate for societies globally. This will help protected areas attract the public, philanthropic, and private investment they need. Our work to better assess the threats they face will also enhance their resiliency – climate change and other related risks could threaten protected areas and we need to wake up to these risks urgently.”

Paul Jepson, of University of Oxford’s Smith School said, “Societies have invested in protecting natural assets for centuries. The project’s goal is to create a new ‘asset’ framework and tool that will enable the assessment and mapping of different types of protected area assets, the forms of value they create, who captures value, and the risks that may ‘strand’ these assets. Our goal is to create a new decision support framework for policy makers and investors. We appeal to everyone with an interest in natural places to support us in this endeavour by by taking our survey”.

The Protected Areas as an Asset Class project is part of our Place-based Conservation Effectiveness workstream.

For more information contact – Chris Johnson, Global Science Communication Manager at the Luc Hoffmann Institute.

Luc Hoffmann InstituteNew Survey to Help Understand Threats to Protected Areas