Source: Protected Planet Report 2016, page 30
The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is a joint project between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Although the WDPA is the most comprehensive database on worldwide protected areas the numbers in the chart above are an underestimate, as not all terrestrial and inland water areas are yet included.
In 1990, there were 12,000,000 km² (4,600,000 sq mi) of protected areas, 10.5 million km² (4 million sq mi) of which came from terrestrial areas, including inland and only 1.5 million km² (0.6 million sq mi) from marine areas. Together, they constituted about 2.3% of the global surface area ( note that the percentage numbers for terrestrial areas in the chart do not include Antarctica!).
Fast forward 26 years and the areas protected have increased to a mind boggling 34,700,000 km² (!!!!!!) (13.4 million sq mi), which is about 7% of the Earth’s surface area. Especially the marine protected areas have skyrocketed from the above mentioned 1.5 million km² to a staggering 14.9 million km² (5.8 million sq mi). That’s a 10 fold increase!!!!
Global protected areas are expected to increase in the future and for 2020 a goal of 17% of terrestrial area has been set, while the 2020 target for marine areas had already been achieved in 2014. Despite biodiversity still declining around the world, this makes me very optimistic and I think this is more than enough reason to be hopeful about the future and that we can solve these issues!
Featured image courtesy of “morfar” via Pixabay