Trends in protected area representation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in five tropical countries

Authors: Rachel Neugarten*, Conservation International, Timothy Max Wright, Conservation International, Kellee Koenig, Conservation International
Topics: Environment, Natural Resources, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: protected areas, conservation, ecosystem services, biodiversity
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Protected areas (PAs) are increasingly expected to fulfill dual roles of biodiversity conservation and provision of benefits to people, known as ecosystem services (ES). Commitments by countries under the Convention on Biological Diversity spurred an expansion of PA networks in many countries. Understanding whether countries are achieving protection targets requires understanding how well PAs are spatially representing important areas for biodiversity and ES. We analyzed the representation of biodiversity priority areas, forests, forest carbon stocks, freshwater ES, and non-timber forest products within terrestrial PAs in five tropical countries (Cambodia, Guyana, Liberia, Madagascar, and Suriname). We conducted spatial analyses using ES modeling tools, satellite-derived land cover data, aboveground biomass carbon data, human population data, and other datasets. We assessed whether spatial representation of biodiversity and ES within PAs is 1) better than expected by chance (if PAs were randomly located), 2) has improved over time, and 3) whether representation could be improved if PAs were spatially targeted. Four of the five countries expanded their terrestrial PA networks during the study period. In both time periods, PAs represented biodiversity priority areas, forests, and forest carbon stocks as well as, or better than, would be expected by chance. For freshwater services and non-timber forest products, PA representation was no better—nor worse—than would be expected by chance. Countries that expanded their PA networks during the study period showed increases in representation of biodiversity priority areas, forests, and ES. In all countries, improved representation is possible if PAs had been spatially targeted.

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