The total area of protected land equals approximately 8.1 million square miles
In the face of the ongoing climate crisis, efforts to stem the tide should be celebrated. A concentrated effort by the world's government, conservation groups, progressive organizations and others reacting to our changing world has yielded some good news. The world now has a network of national parks and protected lands that total about 8.1 million square miles, roughly the size of Russia. That means about 17% of land and inland water habitats and 8% of marine areas—especially those with particular importance for biodiversity—are now within formal protected areas being conserved and managed, with the total coverage (21m km2) increasing by 42% in the last decade.
These targets were set at the 10th Biodiversity Conference in Japan in 2010, and a lot of things have changed. As awareness of conservation issues have grown, countries have stepped up their efforts. Australia recently pledged $100 Million to protect the ocean. The big focus has been on oceans and their wealth of biodiversity, which has seen an 68% increase in protected lands since the last ten years.
“The international community has made major progress towards the global target,” says the new report from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), produced with support from the National Geographic Society.
“The latest edition of the biennial Protected Planet Report is the final report card on Aichi Target 11,” says the executive summary. “It is clear that coverage on land will considerably exceed the 17% target when data for all areas are made available, as many protected and conserved areas remain unreported.”
In the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, the experts plan on scaling up the goals and planning new strategies to protect the spaces that are already being watched over, helping species within those spaces to move more easily and for ecological processes to function.
“IUCN welcomes the enormous progress made, particularly over the last decade, with protected areas covering a growing proportion of the globe,” says IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle.