2018 Report

Human Footprint: Areas under intense human pressure

One way to assess how protected areas can be linked into the wider land and seascape is to assess areas of remaining wilderness or low human foot-print, as identified on land (e.g. Venter et al., 2016) and in the ocean (e.g. Jones et al., 2018b), as this gives a clear indication of how connected landscapes and seascapes are, from an ecological perspective.

However, it is also critical to gauge how intact protected areas are, within their boundaries. Using a comprehensive global map of human pressure, Jones et al. (2018a) have shown that one third (32.8%) of terrestrial protected areas are under intense human pressure. Furthermore, 55% of protected areas that were designated before 1992, when the CBD was adopted, have experienced increases in human pressures.

Progress in halting global biodiversity loss may be undermined by widespread human pressure inside protected areas. There is therefore an urgent need for countries to undertake assessments of human pressure and habitat condition within protected areas and to improve management. The analysis also shows that protected areas yield substantial impact in reducing ecosystem conversion compared to conversion suffered in unprotected regions.

Pplive2018 Box16 Fg1 Jones

Percentage of each protected area that is subject to intense human pressure, spanning from low (blue) to high (orange) levels.

Source: Jones et al (2018a).

Pplive2018 Box16 Fg1

Overlap of the earth's remaining areas of low human impact with protected areas.

Source: Human Impact Map (NGS); Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), July 2018 version, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN. Available at: www.protectedplanet.net.