Doing More for Protected Lands and Oceans

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Photograph: Owen Humphrey’s/PA

Almost fifteen percent of the Earth’s land is enclosed in national parks or other protected areas, which accounts for approximately 20 million sq km. This figure is close to an internationally agreed goal to protect 17 percent of the land surface by 2020. Comparatively, ocean conservation only accounts for 4 percent of total surface of the ocean, covering 15 million sq km. In spite of these statistics – which reflect a positive outcome of the increased attention and importance given to land and ocean conservation – there are concerns over how well these areas are managed and whether they effectively protect endangered species, as Seth wrote a few days ago.

progress report by the UN Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warns that some of the most biodiverse ecosystems are not being protected and that the management of many protected areas is deficient.

Less than 20% of areas considered crucial hubs for species are fully protected, the report states, with countries routinely failing to assess the effectiveness of their national parks nor provide wildlife corridors that allow animals to roam between protected areas.

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