The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the most comprehensive global database of marine and terrestrial protected areas. It is a joint project between UN Environment Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and is managed by UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), in collaboration with governments, non-governmental organisations, academia and industry.The WDPA is updated on a monthly basis, and can be downloaded using the button in the top right of this page.
The WDPA was established in 1981, but the mandate for the database dates back from 1959 when the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council called for a list of national parks and equivalent reserves in recognition that they 'are valuable for economic and scientific reasons and also as areas for the future preservation of fauna and flora and geologic structures in their natural state' Resolution 713 (XXVII). The first UN List of Protected Areas, as it became known, was subsequently published in 1962. Since this time there have been several decisions from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity encouraging Parties to share and update relevant information on their protected areas system with the World Database on Protected Areas.
COP VI/28, 2004 “Invites the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme, working with international organizations, to further develop the World Database on Protected Areas in order to assist the monitoring towards the overall objective of the decision on protected areas, and urges Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to provide up-to-date information for the database." [This is further elaborated in the annexed Programme of Work on Protected Areas].
COP VIII/24, 2006 “Notes the importance of the World Database on Protected Areas as a tool to assist the monitoring of progress towards achieving the targets of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas, and invites the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and their collaborators to further develop access to the database and information management including tools for data sharing and exchange."
COP IX/18, 2008 “Encourages Parties to develop national or regional data networks in order to facilitate the exchange of, and access to information..., including providing information to the WDPA"
COP X/31, 2010 “Encourages Parties to share and update relevant information on their protected areas system with the World Database on Protected Areas"
COP X/31, 2010 “The COP... invites Parties, taking into account the target for goal 1.4 of the programme of work, which calls for all protected areas to have effective management in existence by 2012 using participatory and science-based site planning processes with full and effective participation of stakeholders, and noting that to assess the effectiveness of the management, specific indicators may also be needed to: (a) Continue to expand and institutionalize management effectiveness assessments to work towards assessing 60 per cent of the total area of protected areas by 2015 using various national and regional tools and report the results into the global database on management effectiveness maintained by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP WCMC)"
COP X1/24, 2012 “Invites the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and its partners, including the World Commission on Protected Areas of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to continue to report progress towards achieving Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and related targets through the Protected Planet Report".
COP XIII/2, 2016 “Invites the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre to work with Parties and other Governments to update the World Database on Protected Areas and also to contribute to the assessment of progress in the implementation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11".
The WDPA is a joint project between UN Environment Programme and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The compilation and management of the WDPA is carried out by UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), in collaboration with governments, non-governmental organisations, academia and industry. There are monthly updates of the data which are made available online through the ProtectedPlanet website where the data is both viewable and downloadable.
Data and information on the world's protected areas compiled in the WDPA are used for reporting to the Convention on Biological Diversity on progress towards reaching the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (particularly Target 11), to the UN to track progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, to some of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) core indicators, and other international assessments and reports including the Global Biodiversity Outlook, as well as for the publication of the United Nations List of Protected Areas. Every two years, UNEP-WCMC releases the Protected Planet Report on the status of the world's protected areas and recommendations on how to meet international goals and targets.
Many platforms are incorporating the WDPA to provide integrated information to diverse users, including businesses and governments, in a range of sectors including mining, oil and gas, and finance. For example, the WDPA is included in the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool, an innovative decision support tool that gives users easy access to up-to-date information that allows them to identify biodiversity risks and opportunities within a project boundary.
The reach of the WDPA is further enhanced in services developed by other parties, such as the Global Forest Watch and the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas, which provide decision makers with access to monitoring and alert systems that allow whole landscapes to be managed better. Together, these applications of the WDPA demonstrate the growing value and significance of the Protected Planet initiative.
For more details on the WDPA please read through the User Manual.
Tracking progress towards global targets for protected areas