JRC Releases Its Latest Web Based Tool Assessing the World’s Protected Areas

8 April 2015

DOPA Explorer 1.0 is the JRC’s latest web-based interface which provides a simple way to explore nearly 16 000 of the world’s protected areas. Distinguishing for the first time between terrestrial, marine and mixed protected areas, DOPA Explorer 1.0 proposes new indicators that can help end users to identify those areas with the most unique ecosystems and species. It can also assess the pressures to which they are exposed due to human activities.

DOPA Explorer 1.0 was developed for the JRC’s Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA). It allows end users to assess nearly 16,000 protected areas at the global scale in terms of species, habitats and anthropogenic pressure. The tool is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

In a recent letter of the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Executive Secretary encourages all the Parties to the CBD (195 states and the EU) to make use of the DOPA Explorer in their actions towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.

The Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 foresees that by 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

The letter of the Executive Secretary of the CBD reports that the quantitative elements of the target are on track at the global level, but that other elements still need more attention, including the coverage of areas that are important for biodiversity. It invites the Parties to the CBD to plan and undertake actions to protect and effectively manage these areas and ecological regions in order to achieve all elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, making use of useful information sources, including in particular the JRC’s DOPA Explorer.


Established in 2011 by the JRC to help assess, monitor and possibly forecast the state of and pressures on protected areas at the global scale, DOPA is built on a set of open web-based data and modelling services. Using mainly data on protected areas, species distribution, socio-economic indicators and remote sensing information, DOPA is designed to generate the essential indicators needed by decision-makers when defining policies and concrete actions to be taken to halt biodiversity loss and restore degraded ecosystems.

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a legally binding multilateral treaty that aims to develop national strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. It is often seen as the key document regarding sustainable development. Countries that join (‘Parties’) are obliged to implement its provisions. 195 states and the European Union are parties to the convention. All UN Member States, with the exception of the United States, have ratified the treaty.

The 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets were included in the CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, adopted at the 10th COP of the CBD held in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, in 2010. This plan provides an overarching global framework on biodiversity management and policy development.

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