Protected areas and coverage statistics at the ecoregion level

1.1. Ecoregion coverage statistics

For each ecoregion, DOPA shows coverage statistics using all of the information available from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), as well as for a subset based on all protected areas found in the WDPA that are at least as large as 50 km2. The reason for this additional analysis is that our applications further show site level indicators for all sites of a surface ≥ 50 km2.

Hence, we have computed for each ecoregion

1) the total number of protected areas in the ecoregion as reported in the WDPA.
2) the total number of protected areas ≥ XX km2 in the ecoregion

3) the total surface of the ecoregion (km2 and %) for each country

4) the total surface protected by protected areas ≥ XX km2 in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

4) the total surface protected by protected areas ≥ XX km2 in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

3) the total surface protected in the ecoregion (km2 and %)
4) the total surface protected by protected areas ≥ XX km2 in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

5) the total surface of land protected in the ecoregion (km2 and %)
6) the total surface of sea protected in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

7) the total surface of land protected by a country in the ecoregion (km2 and %)
8) the total surface of sea protected by a country in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

9) the total surface of land protected by a country in the ecoregion (km2 and %)
10) the total surface of sea protected by a country in the ecoregion (km2 and %)

1.2. Data Sources

1.2.1. Ecoregion borders

For the analyses we used two datasets provided by the WWF to define the boundaries of the ecoregions, namely

  1. 1. The Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World (TEOW) data set which identifies 827 ecoregions (Olson et al., 2001)
  2. 2. The Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) data set hich identifies 232 ecoregions (Spalding et al., 2007)

1.2.2. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA)

The boundaries and IUCN management category of the protected area presented come from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA, Version XXX YEARXXX ) managed by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) that is the biodiversity assessment and biodiversity policy support arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Since 1981 UNEP-WCMC has been identifying and compiling information on the protected areas of the world to produce this comprehensive global spatial dataset known as the WDPA. UNEP-WCMC's work on protected areas is carried out in close collaboration with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the IUCN Programme on Protected Areas.


DOPA is providing different information on two subsets of protected areas in the WDPA:

  • All designated protected areas recorded in the August 2014 version of the WDPA with defined boundaries or defined central point locations and a reported area (around 206 000 protected areas) to document overall country and ecoregion statistics. In line with best practice (Juffe-Bignoli et al., 2014), we excluded all protected areas with a “proposed” or “not reported” status from these analyses, and we also excluded the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves because many of their buffer areas do not meet the IUCN protected area definition

  • As a subset of the above, all designated protected areas with defined boundaries and with a surface greater or equal to 100 km2. This subset of nearly XXXX protected areas covers more than XXXX
    % of the total surface of the global protected area system and is documented in DOPA Explorer 1.0 in more detail at the site level in terms of species, habitats, climate and pressures.

Where applicable, DOPA applications will indicate whether the statistics are derived from all protected areas or from the subset of protected areas that are larger than XXX km2. Natura 2000

Natura 2000 is an EU wide network of protected areas established under the 1992 Habitats Directive. The aim of the network is to assure the long-term survival of Europe's most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

We distinguish in Natura 2000[[file:///C:\Users\duboige\Desktop\X_Papers\_PAST%20PAPERS\2015%20EUR%20DOPA%20Explorer%201.0\DOPA%20Explorer%201.0%20EUR%20Final%20Online.doc#_ftn2|[2]]] two types of sites which can be displayed independently in DOPA Explorer 1.0:

1) Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) for habitat types listed in Annex I and species listed in Annex II of the Habitat Directive;

2) Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated by Member States under the 1979 Birds Directive to protect bird species listed in Annex I of the Directive as well as migratory species.

Data on Natura 2000 sites is maintained by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The EEA also reports this data to UNEP-WCMC for inclusion in the WDPA. Ramsar sites

Text to come

1.3. Methods

1.3.1. Computing coverage statistics

Where differing protection levels overlap, the area of protection is attributed to the protection level with the higher precedence. For example if an IUCN Category II PA overlaps a category iv PA, the area of overlap is considered as level II and is not counted in the level iv statistic.

The statistics regarding the protection of land cover both land and inland waters. The statistics corresponding to the seas have been calculated by looking at the percentage of protection of the marine area found within the 200 nautical miles (370 km) out from the coastal baseline, an area corresponding to the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the country.

Note that, following best practice, country and ecoregion statistics are all derived from dissolved layers because of possible spatial overlaps between protected areas in the database. Although we have tried to follow as much as possible the procedures used by UNEP-WCMC for protected area coverage analyses, our protection statistics can differ from other sources because of small differences in the datasets (e.g. country boundaries) and methods (e.g. projections, vector vs raster, rounding) used.

Some protected areas (XXX) are reported in the WDPA with a central point location and a reported area but without exact boundaries. These protected areas are taken into account (as buffered points) only when generating country and ecoregion statistics (for all protected areas) but excluded from all site level analyses as the exact location is of high importance for the computation of protected area indicators.

While we recognize the essential contribution of smaller areas in preserving biodiversity, and the importance of other types of conservation areas (in particular Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs)) in preserving biodiversity, we have restricted ourselves for the time being to the processing of a limited amount of geospatial information. The threshold of XXX km2 allows us to focus on the larger areas while covering at the same time XX% of all the protected land.

Note the latest information on protected areas is always available from the WDPA which is updated and released via on a monthly basis. The information provided includes the name of the protected areas, their status, designation and designation type, their year of designation, the reported surface and the IUCN management category.

1.3.2. Assigning Land, Sea and Mixed categories

DOPA makes a first attempt to classify automatically protected areas into three categories:

1) Terrestrial areas for those areas falling exclusively on land (including inland waters),

2) Marine areas for those areas falling exclusively in seas,

3) Mixed when the protected areas consist of parts falling in both categories.

Because we have converted all protected areas into grids of 1 km2, the conversion process of vector information into grids leads inevitably to some uncertainties which we estimate to be of little impact on the summary information provided at country and ecoregion level.

1.4. IUCN Protected Area Management Categories

Protected areas are classified by the IUCN according to their management objectives (see Dudley, 2008). The IUCN Protected Areas Management Categories are recognised by international bodies such as the United Nations and by many national governments as the global standard for defining and recording protected areas and as such are increasingly being incorporated into government legislation.

These management categories of protected areas are summarized hereafter

Ia Strict Nature Reserve
Category Ia are strictly protected areas set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphological features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values.

Ib Wilderness Area
Category Ib protected areas are usually large unmodified or slightly modified areas, retaining their natural character and influence without permanent or significant human habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition.

II National Park
Category II protected areas are large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible, spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities

III Natural Monument or Feature
Category III protected areas are set aside to protect a specific natural monument, which can be a landform, sea mount, submarine cavern, geological feature such as a cave or even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small protected areas and often have high visitor value.

IV Habitat/Species Management Area
Category IV protected areas aim to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority. Many Category IV protected areas will need regular, active interventions to address the requirements of particular species or to maintain habitats, but this is not a requirement of the category.

V Protected Landscape/ Seascape
A protected area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant, ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.

VI Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources
Category VI is a more encompassing classification that is based on a mutually beneficial relationship between nature conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources in correspondence the livelihoods of surrounding communities. A wide range of socio-economic factors are taken into consideration in creating local, regional and national approaches to the use of natural resources.
Where the national authorities that submit protected area data to UNEP-WCM for inclusion in the WDPA do not provide information on management categories, these protected areas fall in the “not reported” or “not assigned” categories.