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Rapid expansion of protected areas around the world failing to reduce human pressures on land

14 / 11 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

As the world races to meet the goal of protecting 17 percent of Earth’s land surface, a new study looks at how effective protected areas are at reducing human pressures — and finds that there is considerable room for improvement. According to the World Database on Protected Areas, 241,368 protected areas (PAs) have been designated around the world, mostly on land. A little over 20 million square kilometers, or about 15 percent, of Earth’s terrestrial surface is currently protected. It is likely the world will achieve the goal set out in Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2010-2020 to set aside “at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas” by 2020. But a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last month finds that the emphasis on rapidly scaling up protected area coverage to meet Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 has led to the establishment of many PAs that are not successfully reducing anthropogenic pressures on the land. Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK compiled data from 12,315 PAs in 152 countries to examine how well they reduce pressures from human activities. The researchers used satellite data to assess agricultural expansion and the number of lights visible at night in protected areas, together with census and crop yield data, to determine the extent of human encroachment into the study areas between 1995 and 2010. They then compared the findings for each PA with comparable areas of…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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