Biodiversity and Protected Areas
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species www.iucnredlist.org documents that the loss of natural habitats is a predominant threat to biodiversity. For example, around 90% of threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians are imperiled by the destruction of the places where they live. It therefore stands to reason that the first line of defense in conserving biodiversity must be to safeguard these places. Indeed, this approach of conserving biodiversity through protecting areas has been the foundation of conservation for many centuries. The World Database on Protected Areas www.wdpa.org documents approximately 148,000 protected areas worldwide, and the number continues to grow.
The establishment and management of protected areas to conserve biodiversity is complicated by the fact that biodiversity itself varies enormously. Biodiversity varies widely over time – the fact that biodiversity is declining so fast in many places provides the rationale for conservation itself. If protected areas are to be effective as a conservation tool, they must staunch this decline. Biodiversity also varies widely over space, with tropical mountains and islands reaching great peaks of “irreplaceability” (holding concentrations of biodiversity found nowhere else in the world). Again, if protected areas are to be effective, they must reflect this variation – they need to be located in the right places.
Members of the Steering Committee
During the IUCN 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC 2012), that was held in Jeju (South Korea) in September 2012, the mandate of the WCPA/SSC Joint Taskforce on Biodiversity and Protected Areas was successfully renewed for the next quadrennium of the IUCN.
The Taskforce is co-chaired by a representative each from the Species Survival Commission and the World Commission on Protected Areas, and governed by a Steering Committee.
The Committee members are as follows:
• Thomas Brooks (IUCN) – co-chair
• Stephen Woodley (Parks Canada) – co-chair
• Penny Langhammer (Arizona State University)
• Luigi Boitani (University of Rome)
• Nigel Dudley (Equilibrium)
• Gustavo Fonseca (Global Environment Facility)
• Jaime Garcia-Moreno (Wetlands International)
• Marc Hockings (University of Queensland)
• Jon Hutton (United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre)
• Topiltzin Contreras Macbeath (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos)
• Kathy MacKinnon (WCPA)
• Vinod Mathur (Wildlife Institute of India)
• Paul Matiku (NatureKenya)
• Kent Redford (Archipelago Consulting)
• Justina Ray (Wildlife Conservation Society)
• Jane Smart (IUCN)
• Leon Bennun (BirdLife International)
• Phil Weaver (Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative, GOBI)
Membership of the Taskforce is open to any interested commission members of the Species Survival Commission or the World Commission on Protected Areas, and managed through a GoogleGroups website (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/wcpassc-joint-task-force).
China's Huangshan Mountain World Heritage site with its travertine pools
Photo: Jim Thorsell