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Australia : New UNEP Report Unveils World on Track to Meet 2020 Target for Protected Areas on Land and Sea.

The world is on track to meet a 2020 target on the expansion of protected areas, but more work is needed to ensure areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services are prioritized for protection under equitably managed conditions, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released today at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress.

Produced by UNEP's World Conversation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in partnership with IUCN, and funded by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Protected Planet not only monitors global efforts to support and expand protected areas, but supports governments toward faster progress with recommendations for action.

The report finds that 15.4 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 3.4 per cent of the global ocean are now protected-highlighting growing global awareness of the need to safeguard the natural resources that will play a crucial role in the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals.

Protected areas are essential to the conservation of species, ecosystems and the livelihoods they support, and also play a key role in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change-for example, by reducing risks from natural hazards and providing a carbon sink through forests, 7.8 million km2 of which are in protected areas.

The report, the second in a series tracking progress toward meeting Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Biodiversity Targets, finds that 1.6 million km2 of new protected areas have been designated since 2012. Since 2010, the total additional global coverage equates to 6.1 million km2-an area approaching the size of Australia.

Target 11 calls for effectively and equitably managed conservation areas covering at least 17 per cent of the world's terrestrial areas and ten per cent of marine areas-especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services-by 2020.

Protected Planet 2014 finds that the physical coverage aspect of the target is likely to be met, but highlights a lack of progress in other areas, such as: ensuring protected areas are appropriately located in areas important for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are effectively and equitably managed, and are well-connected.

The report warns that without further concerted global action on appropriate targeting of areas to come under protection, integrated and improved national planning, and assessments of how protected areas are effectively and equitably managed, the overall target will not be met.

"Protected areas not only provide us with a vital ecological safety net but also play a vital economic role through the valuable ecosystem services they provide, from supplying water and timber, to sustaining tourism," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Nov 14, 2014
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