The protected areas of Latin America – current situation and prospects for the future

14 June 2011 | News story

The launch of the book, which forms part of the celebration of 20 years of work by the International Union for Nature Conservation in South America, will be next Tuesday the 14th June 2011, in the lounge of the Casino de Hotal María Angola, in Lima, Peru, at 19:30.

In its 230 pages, the publication The protected areas of Latin America – current situation and prospects for the future reveals the natural heritage of our region. The history of the national protected area systems, an account of the current situation, and an analysis of the prospects and challenges facing protected areas in the twenty-first century, illustrated with maps and photographs, form just a part of the book’s contents.

“To edit a book containing information on national protected areas systems for 22 countries in the Latin American subcontinent is a complex task – a complexity that reflects the geographical, ethnic, cultural, political and socioeconomic diversity of the region,” says Joerg Elbers, editor of the publication.

This investigation of protected areas under national jurisdiction shows that 1949 protected areas exist in Latin America; with a protected land area of over 211 million hectares, or 10.4% of the land area of the 22 countries. Meanwhile, the protected marine area reaches nearly 29 million hectares, representing 2.1%.
“Protected areas can play a leading role in the reorientation of our civilization. They are home not only to an important array of biodiversity, but also to diverse cultures and their valuable knowledge of nature and of alternative lifestyles to today’s civilisation,” states Joao de Queiroz, Regional Director of the IUCN.

We are all responsible for the care and conservation of protected areas: it is not only the task of local populations or the governments, but also of those who live in the cities. These spaces are vital to protect the nature and the environmental services that we need to maintain life on the planet.

“Consequently, the actions for the conservation of protected areas should be focused on meeting and following criteria adapted to the current situation, such as balancing the relationship between conservation and development in payments for environmental services, advancing conservation in marine and freshwater protected areas, integrating indigenous people in decision-making and planning processes, improving the training of park rangers, and promoting the link between the objectives of conservation and development through using land-use planning as a fundamental planning tool,” says Rosa Aguilar Rivera, Spanish Minister for the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs.

This publication presents both achievements and challenges for the future. “Certainly there have been big advances in protected areas management in Latin America in the last 20 years, and these advances go far beyond the increase in the proportion of protected land area. There are good prospects for the future but there are also many challenges. Each chapter for each country finishes with a section on this points,” notes Elbers.