WWF work on parks and protected areas

Protecting nature at its best

Protected areas—from national parks to reserves—can allow elephants and orangutans to thrive, biodiversity to persist, and forest-dependent people to make a living in the face of climate change. And that's just the start.

Protected areas play a central role in WWF's forest conservation efforts, from lobbying for their creation, to management and lobbying for improved protection policies.

We aim to:
  • identify—and where possible quantify—the wide range of benefits derived from protected areas
  • increase support for their protection
  • identify innovative partnerships and financing mechanisms
  • broaden and strengthen protected area management strategies, including adaptation from climate change

WWF approach to protected areas

  • protect the most significant and threatened forests
  • ensure they are monitored and properly managed
  • guarantee that their ecological integrity is enhanced, and that they are increasingly self-sustaining

A vision for forest protected areas

WWF aims to see another 75 million hectares of the world’s most outstanding forests brought under protection by 2010. We want to have all types of forests, from mangroves to dry forests, from Peru to Madagascar, represented within protected areas.

We are more than half way there: by 2004, with WWF's support, governments, local communities, indigenous peoples and the private sector have set aside an additional 42 million hectares of forest protected areas.

Following up on existing protected areas

Establishing forest protected areas alone is not enough.

Too many protected areas are not being well cared for and poorly managed.

Protecting these forests and the biodiversity they hold means much more than the creation of a national park. It requires ongoing assessment of their management and ensuring the recommendations are implemented.

To help in that effort, we have developed assessment methods like the Rapid Assessment and Prioritisation Methodology (RAPPAM) and the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool.

Beyond 'simple' management

On the ground, WWF also helps with tourism initiatives, working closely with rangers, holding training workshops and stakeholder meetings, carrying out mapping, habitat management, working with local and religious communities to manage the area, and providing funding, equipment, expertise and advice.

Forest connectivity for resilience

We are also working to create networks of forests, ensure that they are well maintained and that fragmented protected areas are connected through Forest Landscape Restoration projects.

This will improve the forest's resilience, allow animals and plant life to interchange, and a healthier ecosystem to thrive.

This problem of movement is a real threat to the panda population in China, so we are developing forest 'corridors' so the pandas can move from one protected reserve to another.

Making self-sustaining protected areas a reality

All this takes funding. With organizations such as CARE and IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development), we are developing innovative financing schemes, one of which is Payment for Environmental Services or PES, to help more protected areas pay for their own upkeep.

This might mean, for example, that downstream beneficiaries of water cleansed by the forest pay a user fee, or tourists and trekkers pay to enter the forest.
Sacred bush on a riverbank in Mongolia / ©: WWF / Anton VORAUER
Sacred bush on the riverbank: local herders hang silk sashes as offerings to local spirits. Hovd valley, Mongolia
 / ©: WWF / Kevin SCHAFER
About 80 per cent of Quito’s 1.5 million people receive drinking water from two Category 1a protected areas: Antisana and Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserves.
Wild sorghum in the Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve, Niger

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