Protected areas are central to climate change responses
Protected areas are proven, and sustainable governance systems for managing land, coastal and marine ecosystems. Whether managed by state agencies or local communities and indigenous peoples, protected areas reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions from land conversion. Improving management and expanding protected area networks are cost-effective strategies to address climate change.
Protected Areas can contribute to the major challenges facing the world today – biodiversity loss, water shortages , food insecurity and the greatest threat humanity has ever faced– rapid climate change. Although they cover only 11.9% of land and just over 1 % of the oceans, protected areas are the cornerstones of biodiversity conservation, protecting 80% of threatened species. Many protected areas also provide social and economic benefits, supporting local livelihoods and economies, and safeguarding crucial services such as fresh water, food and carbon storage and mitigation of natural disasters. Protected areas can thus play a critical role in national and local mitigation and adaptation strategies, as natural solutions to climate change.
Carbon Storage and Mitigation: Globally protected areas store more than 312 gig tons of carbon (GTC) or 15% of terrestrial carbon stock. Tropical, temperate and boreal forests, sea grass beds, mangroves, and salt marshes are key carbon stores and sinks.
Reducing Vulnerability and Adapting to Climate Change: Water stress, food shortages and natural disasters, with loss of lives and assets, will become increasingly frequent, exacerbated by climate change and more dramatic climatic events.