Improving protected area networks

WWF is working for a global network of well-managed, representative protected areas – a key aspect of achieving our goal to save biodiversity.

With our partners, we are at the forefront of all aspects of protected area work – from planning, establishing, and managing to securing sustainable financing, influencing policy, and ensuring that such areas bring benefits to people.

Our work combines:

  • Large-scale conservation strategies to safeguard the world's most important terrestrial, freshwater, and marine places and species
  • Field projects in more than 100 countries to establish, restore, and effectively manage protected area networks, protect them from long-term global threats such as climate change, and ensure they bring benefits to people 
  • Advocacy and policy work
  • Partners, including indigenous people, local communities, park managers, local and international NGOs, land owners, governments, universities and research institutes, international organizations, development agencies, business groups, and industry.
Our Protected Areas for a Living Planet programme is particularly working to help governments meet their bold commitment under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) to establish a global network of comprehensive, well-managed, and representative terrestrial and marine protected areas by 2010 and 2012, respectively.
 / ©: WWF / Zig KOCH
Butterflies near the Augusto Falls, Juruena National Park, Brazil. The world's incredible biodiversity is worth saving not just in itself - species and the ecosystems they are part of provide essential goods and services that make human life possible and contribute enormously to our health and well-being.
© WWF / Zig KOCH
Protected areas are one of the most effective tools for conserving species and natural habitats. They also contribute to the livelihoods and well-being of local communities and society at large.

For example, well-planned and well-managed protected areas can help to safeguard freshwater and food supplies, reduce poverty, and reduce the impacts of natural disasters.

Still a long way to go

Over the last 130 years, over 100,000 protected areas (national parks, sanctuaries, reserves, etc) have been established, covering some 12% of the Earth’s land surface – more than India and China put together.

This is an impressive accomplishment – and has contributed enormously to the conservation of many threatened and endangered species and habitats.

But despite this, several problems with the current network of protected areas mean that the world’s biodiversity and natural areas remain under threat.

For example, many habitats, such as marine and freshwater areas, are not well-represented, while many protected areas are too small and isolated to conserve their habitats effectively. In addition, poor management of some protected areas is undermining conservation efforts.

What needs to be done? 
Basically, governments need to declare many new protected areas as well as effectively manage existing ones and ensure connectivity between them. 

WWF's vision

  • A global network of ecologically representative, effectively managed, and sustainably financed protected areas that:

    • sustain biodiversity and natural resources across entire ecosystems
    • help to reduce poverty
    • provide environmental services and resilience to long-term change
    • protect threatened human cultures and communities
    • give space for both wildlife and people.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required