Socio-economic and ecological impacts of global protected area expansion plans

date: 2015-10-15



Several global strategies for protected area (PA) expansion have been proposed to achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi target 11 as a means to stem biodiversity loss, as required by the Aichi target 12. However, habitat loss outside PAs will continue to affect habitats and species, and PAs may displace human activities into areas that might be even more important for species persistence. Here we measure the expected contribution of PA expansion strategies to Aichi target 12 by estimating the extent of suitable habitat available for all terrestrial mammals, with and without additional protection (the latter giving the counterfactual outcome), under different socio-economic scenarios and consequent land-use change to 2020. We found that expanding PAs to achieve representation targets for ecoregions under a Business-as-usual socio-economic scenario will result in a worse prognosis than doing nothing for more than 50% of the world's terrestrial mammals. By contrast, targeting protection towards threatened species can increase the suitable habitat available to over 60% of terrestrial mammals. Even in the absence of additional protection, an alternative socio-economic scenario, adopting progressive changes in human consumption, leads to positive outcomes for mammals globally and to the largest improvements for wide-ranging species.

This article is published in a special issue titled Measuring the difference made by protected areas, edited by Robert L. Pressey and Paul J. Ferraro


Visconti P, Bakkenes M, Smith RJ, Joppa L, Sykes RE. 2015 Socio-economic and ecological impacts of global protected area expansion plans. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 370: 20140284.