As international efforts to preserve biological diversity have evolved, it has become clear that protected areas are at the heart of any global strategy for success. Without the preservation of core areas of habitat - as well as the preservation of buffer zones around cores and linking wildlife corridors - biodiversity as we know it will be lost. Moreover, protected areas preserve landscapes, seascapes and natural areas for appropriate, longterm, appreciation and use by human beings.
Of those areas most critically in need of preservation (as habitats of intense endemism, as ecologically exceptional communities, or as unique landscapes) significant numbers fall within the borders of the world's less developed countries.
More information: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/protected_areas/index.html
Every country in the world has defined areas that are managed for conservation of animals, plants and other natural and cultural features.
UNEP-WCMC locates and and compiles information on the protected areas of the world. These can be identified and combined with other data to produce lists and maps that illustrate the distribution of these areas.
GEO Data Category:
Protected Areas and Environmental Protection
Natural areas, landscape, ecosystems
Protected areas, IUCN classification, Categories I-VI, area, national level
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GIS Data Info
Statistics Data Info
Calculated pre 1991-1992 relative country share
Former Yugoslavia SFR:
A protected area is defined by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) as:
An area of land and/or sea especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and managed through legal or other effective means
Although all protected areas meet the general purposes contained in this definition, in practice the precise purposes for which protected areas are managed differ greatly
Following are the definitions of IUCN Management categories I-VI.
Category Ia. Strict Nature Reserve: protected area managed mainly for science. Area of land and/or sea possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physiological features
and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring.
Category Ib. Wilderness Area: protected area managed mainly for wilderness protection.
Large area of unmodified or slightly modified land, and/or sea, retaining its natural character and influence, without permanent or significant habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition.
Category II. National Park: protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation.
Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations; b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.
Category III. Natural Monument: protected area managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features. Area containing one, or more, specific natural or natural/cultural feature which is of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities or cultural significance.
Category IV. Habitat/Species Management Area: protected area managed mainly for conservation through management intervention. Area of land and/or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes so as to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/or to meet the requirements of specific species.
Category V. Protected Landscape/Seascape: protected area managed mainly for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation. Area of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area.
Category VI. Managed Resource Protected Area: protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems. Area containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet community needs.
Please refer to the original source for the most recent data (http://quin.unep-wcmc.org/wdbpa/GEO3.cfm).
For more information on the variables and collection methodologies see original source or the IUCN Web site: http://wcpa.iucn.org/