In the following you will find details about the datasets used in DOPA.

1. Country borders

The EEZ/GAUL dataset is a global dataset of administrative areas that are based on the ISO 3 letter country codes ( The dataset includes the terrestrial areas from GAUL (GAUL 2008) combined with the marine areas from the EEZ (version 6). For countries that were not present in the GAUL dataset, these were manually created from a number of sources (including the ESRI country boundaries). Disputed areas have been encoded as XXX. The spatial reference for the combined dataset is WGS84. The combined dataset was also enhanced with a field indicating the sovereign nation for the ISO 3 country, called 'sovereign'.

2. Ecoregions

Ecoregion boundaries are used to in the coverage statistics by protected areas. The coverage statistics are calculated for terrestrial and marine ecoregions because these represent ecologically more meaningful entities to compare protected areas than administrative boundaries (e.g. comparing a protected area found in a rainforest with one falling in a dry area may not be very useful). The terrestrial and marine ecoregion boundaries used in DOPA Explorer 1.0 are provided by the WWF.

The Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World (TEOW) data set identifies 827 ecoregions (Olson et al., 2001).

The Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) data setincludes 232 ecoregions (Spalding et al., 2007).

3. Protected Areas

3.1. Boundaries of Protected Areas

The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is identifying and compiling information on the protected areas of the world to produce a comprehensive global dataset and maps, known as the World Database on Protected Areas (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 uses UNEP-WCMC's August 2014's version of the World Database on Protected Areas:

3.2. Management categories of Protected Areas

The IUCN categories of protected areas13 are given hereafter. More information can be found at

Ia Strict Nature Reserve
Category Ia are strictly protected areas set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphical 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..

Not reported
A number of protected areas will fall in the “not reported” category. Boundaries of terrestrial and marine protected areas are submitted to the UNEP-WCMC by national authorities and they do not provide any indication on their management in some cases. There are also some cases where only the area and a central point location are submitted to UNEP-WCMC, but the exact boundaries are missing. We have chosen to exclude these protected areas from our analyses as the exact location is of high importance for the computation of our indicators.

3.3. Marine, terrestrial and mixed protected areas

DOPA has made 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.
End users of DOPA Explorer 1.0 will also find means to display a European subset of the WDPA, the Natura 2000 sites. 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 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.