• Introduction

    Protected areas (PAs) are locations that receive protection because of their recognised natural, ecological and/or cultural values. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition of protected areas is widely accepted across regional and global frameworks and is as follows: “a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values“ (Dudley, 2008). Through its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), IUCN has developed six Protected Area Management Categories that define protected areas according to their management objectives which are internationally recognised by various national governments and the United Nations. The categories provide international standards for defining PAs and encourage conservation planning according to their management aims.

    PAs are recognised as the most important core ‘units’ for in situ conservation. The information contained in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) records the numerical and spatial attributes of over 160,000 sites (terrestrial and marine) covering between 10-15% of the Earth's land area (Soutullo, 2010). Among conservation interventions in tropical forests, the establishment of protected areas has been the most prominent and best funded; the Global Environment Facility has invested $1.6 billion of its own resources and $4,2 billion in co-financing into protected areas (Nelson & Chomitz, 2011). The importance of PAs is reflected in their widely accepted role as a benchmark to measure conservation activity and global targets (Chape et al., 2005). PA coverage was endorsed by the seventh Conference of the Parties (CoP7) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as an indicator for the adopted target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. PAs are also indicators for success in achieving the Millennium Development Goal 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), Target 9 (integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources) and Indicator 26 (land area protected to maintain biological diversity).

  • How can protected areas help ape conservation?

  • Are there also negative aspects of protected areas for great apes/challenges/issues?

  • How is protected area management implemented /applied in practice?

Compiled and edited 2011 by Kay H. Farmer
Reviewed by Hjalmar Kuehl, Josephine Head and Neba Funwi-Gabga

  • References