When properly supported, protected areas are an invaluable tool in safeguarding biodiversity, says Dr. James Watson, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Climate Change Program. But, he says with a group of colleagues in an article published Nov. 5 in Nature, only one in four is well managed. A fundamental change, they say, involving an increase in funding and a renewed political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas meet their full potential.
In advance of the paper's publication, Dr. Watson answered a few questions on the subject:
What are the top three to five points you want people to take away from this Nature paper?
Are protected areas the best, last hope for saving the world's biodiversity?
Yes, especially when well financed. They stop destructive human behavior – simple as that. It means they are a controversial mechanism for some but it also means it is effective. They are the core tool in the conservation toolbox.
Are you hopeful that your paper will influence governments around the globe to invest more in protected areas?
Yes, I hope the paper is not just a whinge but rather it identified the core parts of a new strategy. The strategy argues it is time to: 1. Stop the backtracking of current commitments; 2. To spend the money to make sure current protected areas work; 3. To plan cleverly in the future so that the future PA estate has the best chance halting the biodiversity crisis.
Read more about the study in the press release >>