Governments should strengthen protected areas as a way to save their countries’ species. That was the message from IUCN as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) starts to discuss protected areas at its ninth meeting in Bonn.
Protected areas now cover 11.63% of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, but David Sheppard, Head of IUCN's Programme on Protected Areas, says he is concerned that significant gaps remain, particularly in marine, freshwater and coastal areas.
He says that this meeting should call for a renewal of political commitment to strengthen protected areas to conserve biodiversity. The meeting should also call for countries to step up efforts to make sure protected areas are being managed effectively, according to IUCN.
“We need parties to the CBD to recognize the benefits of protected areas to their national economies and well-being of their local populations,” says David Sheppard. “They need to fund the protected area system accordingly.”
IUCN is also calling for the CBD to address the failure to increase the number of Marine Protected Areas in the High Seas. Currently, protected areas in the marine environment are less than 1% of the waters under the jurisdiction of coastal states and virtually non-existent in the high seas (areas beyond national jurisdiction).
The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ includes 41,415 species of which 16,306 are threatened with extinction. Protected areas are an essential means to address this crisis and this must be better recognized and supported within the CBD, according to IUCN.