Protected areas will only be able to significantly contribute to biodiversity conservation if they are managed effectively. Standardised repeat assessments of management effectiveness have become a powerful tool to support adaptive and effective management of protected areas over time. They help to ensure that protected areas meet their conservation objectives and deliver the desired conservation outcomes.
The evaluation of protected area management effectiveness is defined as the assessment of how well protected areas are being managed - primarily the extent to which they are protecting values and achieving goals and objectives. The term 'management effectiveness' reflects three main themes in protected areas management (Hockings et al. 2006):
• Design issues relating to both individual protected areas and protected area systems
• Adequacy and appropriateness of management systems and processes
• Delivery of protected area objectives including the conservation of values
UNEP-WCMC maintains a Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (PAME) module as part of the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). This provides relevant background information on evaluations that have taken place worldwide. The module links these evaluations to the protected areas information in the WDPA, and vice versa. As of June 2010 there were more than 8,000 records of management effectiveness assessments included in the PAME module of the WDPA.
Recognising the importance of effectively managed protected areas for biodiversity conservation, the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Programme of Work on Protected Areas set a target in 2004 to improve the management effectiveness of protected areas:
Goal 4.2: To evaluate and improve the effectiveness of protected areas management
Target: By 2010, frameworks for monitoring, evaluating and reporting protected areas management effectiveness at sites, national and regional systems, and transboundary protected area levels adopted and implemented by Parties.
Suggested activities of the Parties
4.2.2 Implement management effectiveness evaluations of at least 30 percent of each Party’s protected areas by 2010 and of national protected area systems and, as appropriate, ecological networks.
- UNEP/CBD/COP/7/21 Decision VII/28, Annex
Together with researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, UNEP-WCMC has tracked progress towards this target in the framework of the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (2010 BIP). The target set in 2004 will be reviewed at the CBD’s next Conference of the Parties in October 2010.
UNEP-WCMC continues to work closely with other partners in developing the PAME module of the WDPA in making the information on protected areas management effectiveness widely available for national governments, park agencies and managers, NGOs and the conservation community. This enables all parties to share experiences, ideas and lessons learned from these assessments of management effectiveness, as well as allowing governments to make comparisons to the tagets in the Programme of Work on Protected Areas for reports to the CBD.
Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia, in collaboration with a wide range of partners including UNEP-WCMC, have carried out a global study on protected area management effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to produce a global review of the evaluations of protected areas. The study significantly improved our understanding of the different methodologies used to evaluate the management effectiveness of protected areas and the indicators commonly used in the assessments. The global study has so far assembled and analysed information on 42 different methodologies used in more than 8,000 management effectiveness assessments. The results of the global study have been integrated into the PAME module of the WDPA. This module continues to be updated as new information becomes available.
A European study on protected area management effectiveness assessments was carried out between May 2009 and March 2010, to provide an overview of existing studies, evaluation methods and key indicators in Europe. This study was led by the Universities of Greifswald and Queensland, in partnership with UNEP-WCMC, EUROPARC Federation and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). The results of the 1,846 management effectiveness evaluations in Europe were synthesized to produce the overall management effectiveness and the strengths and weaknesses of the evaluations. The study documented 40 management effectiveness methodologies, 31 of which are only used in Europe. The study also assessed the recommendations made for improving effectiveness and the most prevalent threats to protected areas.
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