The IUCN’s new list gives recognition, not to plants and animals, but to protected areas that are successfully meeting their objectives
THE ‘RED List of Threatened Species’ from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has been guiding conservation efforts on behalf of the world’s endangered species for several years now. This list—with its familiar categories, including ‘least concern’, ‘vulnerable’, ‘critically endangered’ and the irreversible ‘extinct’—has provided a way of keeping tabs on the state of the planet’s biodiversity.
Now, a new list—IUCN Green List of Protected Areas—has been announced to give recognition, not to plants and animals, but to protected areas that are successfully meeting their objectives. The list was announced at the IUCN’s once-in-a-decade World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia, recently. Protected areas in Australia, South Korea, China, Italy, France, Spain, Kenya and Colombia are the first to be listed—currently being developed by the IUCN. The initial crop of 24 green-listed reserves comes from eight countries, the first to have their protected areas assessed. Countries next in line for the list assessment include Mexico, Croatia and several countries in north Africa
The IUCN Green List of Protected Areas is the only global standard of good practice for protected areas. It aims to recognise and promote success in managing some of the most valuable natural areas on the planet. The first 23 successful sites have been selected among 50 candidates put forward by the eight countries as part of the first phase of the Green List.
The sites have been evaluated against a set of demanding criteria, including the quality of protection of natural values. They should demonstrate fair and transparent sharing of the costs and benefits of conservation, effective management and long-lasting conservation outcomes. These criteria are tailored and measured as per the challenges and opportunities faced in each country.
The IUCN Green List standard will bring greater international recognition to the listed sites and increased political support. It will also help improve the quality of tourism within the sites. The standard will evolve to keep pace with the global best practices and new challenges facing protected areas. The listed sites commit to continuously improve to maintain compliance with the standard.
Here are some of the successful ‘candidates’ for the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas:
Cape Byron State Conservation Area and Arakwal National Park, Australia: One of the successful candidates, the Cape Byron State Conservation Area and Arakwal National Park in Australia have been ‘green listed’ for engagement with the local community. The Aboriginal Arakwal traditional owners were instrumental in establishing the National Park in 2001 and are fully involved in its daily management. More than 65 local volunteers make sure that visitors are informed of the important natural and cultural values of the area.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya: In Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, pastoral ranching is allowed within the protected area. Its management runs a community cattle ranching programme providing monitoring, protection and livestock health services. This ensures protection for both wildlife and cattle, and provides a safe haven and rich pastures for local herders.
Cerbere-Banyuls Natural Marine Reserve, France: In France, the Cerbere-Banyuls Natural Marine Reserve has seen a successful recovery of marine species and habitats since it was established to protect fragile marine habitats in 1974. It also engages the community in the management of the area and actively supports the fishing and tourism sectors. A guided underwater educational safari is one of the most popular visitor drawcards on this stretch of the Cote Vermeille at the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Eastern Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve, China: The reserve was awarded for the critical conservation work of the lake, which is a major inland water source of Central China, fed by the Yangtze river.
Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve, China: The reserve is home to a thriving population of giant pandas. In China, a total of six flagship protected areas have achieved the IUCN Green List standard.
Gorgona National Park, Colombia: Another green-listed site, the Gorgona National Park in Colombia, protects an outstanding example of the country’s rich marine and coastal biodiversity, with a collaborative management system in place that engages local fishers in nature conservation.
Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain: The management of Sierra Nevada National Park successfully balances the conservation of a fragile montane ecosystem and rich cultural heritage with a dynamic tourism industry.
Donana National Park, Spain: The park is presenting a case for excellence in the management of wetland and cultural values, and the Green Listing process will be completed in early 2015.