Identification of Global Priorities for New Mountain Protected and Conserved Areas
Global News
article written by MRI
25.03.21 | 07:03

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Mountains Specialist Group has developed a draft paper on Identification of Global Priorities for New Mountain Protected and Conserved Areas. It reenforces an understanding and appreciation of the critical natural and cultural value of mountains and the threats to their ecological functions, and presents the case for the importance of protecting and conserving representative mountain ecosystems.

The paper proposes an iterative six-step Decision Support Tool for identifying and prioritizing candidate areas for conserving inadequately protected mountain ecosystems, species and habitats.  The tool begins with quantitative analyses of the adequacy of protection of mountain Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), world terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, and red-listed species. It then guides regional teams through qualitative assessments of other values to develop lists of priority areas to advocate for protection or conservation. Its purpose is to assist in determining priorities, in order to influence where efforts need to be focused to protect and conserve mountain areas.

“The IUCN WCPA Mountains Specialist Group aims to identify new areas in mountains to advocate for protection,” says Specialist Group Leader Peter Jacobs“With the conservation community advocating now for protection of 30% of the global terrestrial and marine environment by 2030, we figured it is important to be strategic about what mountain values are inadequately protected and where that advocacy should be targeted. The level of protection of mountain Key Biodiversity Areas provided a foundation for a global assessment of what important areas in mountains are inadequately protected.”

According to Jacobs, the paper’s major findings are “the low level of protection of Key Biodiversity Areas in mountains (over 40% are completely unprotected) and large inconsistencies in the level of protection of the range of mountain biomes and ecosystems (e.g., Snow and Ice makes up 1.2% of mountains by area but is 38% protected). This vindicated our view that we need a consistent and supportive approach to identifying the next priorities for protection and conservation of mountains.” 

“There are many important publications that put the case for increasing global coverage of protected and conserved areas to 30% by 2030 (30 X 30),” Jacobs acknowledges. “This paper presents a means to identify where that expansion in mountains needs to be over the next decade and a pathway to get there. The proposed decision support tool presented offers a strategic and pragmatic approach to identify and prioritise inadequately protected mountains in a country or region. The intent is to catalyse regionally based conversations that will encourage and inform advocacy for protection or conservation of mountains, to achieve the best outcome from 30 X 30.” 

“Mountain key biodiversity areas (KBAs) are already recognized as priority geographies due to their importance for species-level biodiversity. The new IUCN tool offers additional criteria for prioritization – and in particular whether or not the KBAs also contain unprotected or under-protected mountain ecosystems. That just makes good sense from a conservation planning perspective.” – Roger Sayre, U.S. Geological Survey Land Change Science Program

The paper was prepared by the IUCN WCPA Mountains Specialist Group with support from BirdLife International, the IUCN, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Cover image by Benas M.