More than one third of protected areas data for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries has been improved over the past two years through a collaborative effort between UNEP-WCMC (United Nations Environment Programme -World Conservation Monitoring Centre) and IUCN through the BIOPAMA programme (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management). Important protected area databases have been sustained and a number of high-impact reports have been produced to support the goal of improving access to best available science and knowledge on protected areas.
The Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions have historically been data-deficient in the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). Through BIOPAMA, the data collection from these regions gained a new impetus and data that hadn’t been reviewed for many years was updated. This focus also coincided with UNEP-WCMC’s drive to expand the WDPA to include more ICCAs (Indigenous peoples’ and Community Conserved territories and Areas), that are of particular importance in parts of Africa and the Pacific. Simultaneously, the Protected Areas Management Effectiveness (PAME) data for all the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries has been significantly improved.
The WDPA data is the primary source for high level publications, the United Nations List of Protected Areas (UN List), a once-every-ten-year report, and the Protected Planet Report 2014, which used the WDPA to measure the international community’s progress towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. The latest editions of both publications were launched at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014. In addition, all the ACP countries’ protected areas reports have been updated and are available online, as result of the BIOPAMA contribution to improve access to protected areas information in these regions.
UNEP-WCMC is currently redeveloping the Protected Planet website, through which the WDPA is made available to an international community of policy-makers, academics and protected areas professionals. The enhanced usability of the website will be an asset to the WDPA and its users going into the future, and constitutes a significant legacy of BIOPAMA’s collaboration with UNEP-WCMC.
BIOPAMA’s contribution to these projects directly influenced their quality and impact and created a stronger foundation for ongoing data-collection and co-operation with the ACP countries. It has also allowed UNEP-WCMC to nurture renewed contacts in these regions.
Since the beginning of the BIOPAMA collaboration, UNEP-WCMC has been able to update data on 34% of all protected areas in Africa, and 20 of 48 countries have provided updates for more than 50% of their protected areas. For the Caribbean, 27% of protected areas have been updated, including four countries for which over 60% of protected areas have been updated. While the process has been slower in the Pacific region , with updates occurring for only 5% of protected areas, overall this amounts to an update to 31% of the protected areas data for the ACP regions, along with substantial non-spatial updates provided by many countries for the UN List of Protected Areas.
Talking about this partnership, Brian Mac Sharry, Senior Programme Officer, UNEP WCMC said: “Our important relationship with IUCN, one of the BIOPAMA implementing partners, has been strengthened, fostering productive collaboration in the future. The establishment of the BIOPAMA Regional Observatories also provides us with regional focal points through which we can ensure that we continue to receive high-quality datasets. While there will inevitably be ongoing challenges with collecting data in the ACP regions, these relationships place us in the best possible position from which to overcome those challenges”.