Protected and Conserved Areas (PCAs), including Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), are one of the most effective tools for preventing loss of natural ecosystems and species, as well as to achieve long-term sustainable development, including Aichi targets 11 and 12 and several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In some regions, PCAs are the center of economic development, through tourism, sustainable use of resources and as sources of freshwater. PCAs also contribute to food security through maintenance of the ecosystem services that support agriculture, by protecting resources essential for crop breeding programmes, and by providing space for traditional biodiversity-friendly farming and grazing systems. PCAs also have a major role to play in climate resilience, both by storing and sequestering carbon, and by ensuring that ecosystems continue to provide goods and services to human societies.
PCAs currently cover a little over 15 per cent of Earth’s terrestrial surface, including inland waters, and 7.3 per cent of global oceans. However, over 50 million hectares of protected areas worldwide have lost legal protection since 1900 as a result of protected area downgrading, downsizing and degazettement (PADDD).
PCAs are a key element of WWF’s vision that 30 per cent of the Earth’s land, inland waters and sea are restored and protected.
- Policy and advocacy at national and international levels, particularly working with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), World Heritage Convention and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and developing policy guidelines and campaigns against Protected Areas Downsizing, Downgrading & De-gazettement (PADDD).
- Driving PCA management and governance excellence. This includes expanding the number of protected areas showing improvements in management effectiveness, based on assessment via the Protected Area Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT), CA|TS, or other regionally specific initiatives; promoting assessments of PCA governance; and assessing the feasibility and management of critical PCAs and Indigenous Reserves.
- Securing sustainable finance, including through Earth for Life, a groundbreaking initiative that adopts the Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) model, a unique financial approach in which governments make bold and ambitious long-term commitments to conservation, including fully funding the long-term management of the protected areas system.