Protected Areas

Protected areas and the CBD

Protected Area Provisions in the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is the most important international legal instrument addressing protected areas. The term “protected area” is defined in Article 2 of the Convention as “a geographically defined area, which is designated or regulated and managed to achieve specific conservation objectives”. Article 8 of the Convention contains specific references to protected areas by encouraging Parties to:
  • Establish a system of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;
  • Develop, where necessary, guidelines for the selection, establishment and management of protected areas or areas where special measures need to be taken to conserve biological diversity;
  • Regulate or manage biological resources important for the conservation of biological diversity whether within or outside protected areas, with a view to ensuring their conservation and sustainable use;
  • Promote environmentally sound and sustainable development in areas adjacent to protected areas with a view to furthering protection of these areas;
  • Cooperate in providing financial and other support for in-situ conservation, particularly to developing countries.
The full text of the Convention can be accessed here.

Protected areas and other CBD Programmes of Work

Protected areas form a central element of the work in the thematic areas and cross-cutting issues addressed by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Each of the Programmes of Work below include provisions for protected areas:

  1. Programme of Work on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity: The Conference of Parties agreed in 2004 (Decision VII/5) that marine and coastal protected areas are an essential tool for the conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity. The Conference of the Parties also agreed that a national framework of marine and coastal protected areas should include a range of levels of protection, encompassing both areas that allow sustainable uses and those that prohibit extractive uses (i.e., “no-take” areas);
  2. Programme of Work on Inland Water Ecosystems: The Conference of Parties agreed in 2004 (Decision VII/4) to call for the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive, adequate and representative systems of protected inland water ecosystems within the framework of integrated catchment/watershed/river basin management;
  3. Programme of Work on Dry and Sub-humid Lands: In Decision V/23, the use and establishment of additional protected areas and the strengthening of measures in existing protected areas are identified as some of the necessary target actions;
  4. Programme of Work on Forest Biodiversity: This Programme of Work, which was adopted in Decision VI/22, contains a number of activities related to protected areas, including the call for improving the effectiveness of forest protected areas, and the establishment of new forest protected areas to control deforestation and to avoid greenhouse gas emissions;
  5. Programme of Work on Mountain Biodiversity: This Programme of Work contains provisions on how to plan, establish and manage protected areas in mountain ecosystems, including: buffer zones around protected areas (Decision VII/27); the establishment of effective national, regional and international networks of mountain protected areas, and the promotion of integrated transboundary cooperation.
  6. Programme of Work on Traditional Knowledge: Article 8(j) of this Programme of Work includes a component on protected areas relating to the management of protected areas by indigenous and local communities (Decision VI/10). Specific emphasis is put on the respect of their rights when establishing new protected areas (Decision VII/16);
  7. Programme of Work on Tourism and Biodiversity: Decision VII/14 of the Conference of the Parties includes guidelines on how to incorporate sustainable use and equity strategies within and around protected areas;
  8. Global Taxonomy Initiative: The value of taxonomic data in assisting protected area site selection is recognized in the Programme of Work for the Global Taxonomy Initiative, contained in Decision VI/8.
  9. Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: In this strategy, the Conference of the Parties adopted targets 4 and 5 which specify that by 2010, a) at least 10% of each of the world's ecological regions should be effectively conserved, implying increasing the representation of different ecological regions in protected areas, and increasing the effectiveness of protected areas; and b) protection of 50% of the most important areas for plant diversity should be assured.
  10. Island Biodiversity: The Conference of the Parties in Decision VIII/1 adopted a programme of work on island biodiversity. Its aim is to reduce significantly the rate of island biodiversity loss as a contribution to poverty alleviation and the sustainable development of islands, particularly small island developing States. The programme of work sets out almost 50 island-specific priority actions arranged under 11 goals, and organized under seven focal areas with the first dedicated to "Protect the components of biodiversity"