Challenges beyond reaching a 30% of area protection

Zabala, Aiora; Palomo, Ignacio; Múgica, Marta and Montes, Carlos (2024). Challenges beyond reaching a 30% of area protection. npj Biodiversity, 3(1), article no. 9.



The Conference of the Parties of the signatories of the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed in 2022 to protect 30% of terrestrial and marine areas by 2030 (the “30 × 30” target). What challenges emerge or intensify once (if) this 30 × 30 goal is achieved globally? To help practitioners and researchers pre-empt and plan along the path towards 30% protected area (PA) coverage, we draw lessons from a sizable and biodiversity-rich region that has already hit the target on land. Based on experiences and research about PAs in Spain (36% of land and 12% of marine area protected), we identify, illustrate and discuss the socioeconomic and management challenges that emerge with a high proportion of a country’s area protected, as well as possible strategies to address them. We structure these challenges in three levels: PA governance and management, PA integrity, and the landscape matrix outside PA boundaries. Important strategies to address these challenges include enhancing engagement, participation and stewardship; increasing institutional resilience and a cross-sectoral approach for socio-environmental goals. Achieving quantitative targets of protection will not be sufficient to conserve the world’s biodiversity and, in a leap forward, we envision the governance areas that need the most attention as countries reach (or get close to) sizeable proportions of protection.

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