Protected Areas


A Protected Area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values (IUCN, 2008).


Protected Areas are a key strategic approach to conservation, and to the sustainable use of wildlife, as they are the habitat of many wildlife species. They play a pivotal role in the landscape, for example, by balancing agricultural production with protection objectives through integrated land use, maintaining genetic resources, and by helping to protect many fragile human communities and cultural landscapes.

Currently, around 17 percent of the world’s forests are located within legally established Protected Areas (FAO, 2015). Forest Protected Areas help conserve ecosystems that provide habitat, shelter, food, raw materials, genetic materials, a barrier against disasters, a stable source of resources and many other ecosystem goods and services.

Millions of people globally depend on Protected Areas for subsistence. In some cases, they benefit directly by consuming food produced or obtained in or around Protected Areas. In others, employment and income provide indirect benefits that contribute to sustaining livelihoods.

Protected Areas currently face numerous challenges that threaten their chances of achieving their management objectives. These include the illegal extraction of forest products such as timber, poaching, illegal mining, unsustainable tourism and infrastructure development as well as a lack of sustainable funding, poor management, and conflicts rights over tenure, among other issues.

Protected Areas are the focus of considerable international attention because of their recognized natural, ecological, economic or cultural values. They are recognized across multiple international policy processes including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention.

FAO’s involvement

For several decades, FAO has been assisting member countries to manage Protected Areas by improving the issues of governance and cross-border cooperation; strengthening the capacity for community-based conservation management, specifically for Indigenous Peoples and local communities living in and around Protected Areas; and working towards building resilience to climate change in Protected Areas and towards creating sustainable financing mechanisms.

Since 1997, the FAO Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has served as the technical secretariat for the Latin American Technical Cooperation Network on National Parks, other Protected Areas and Wildlife (REDPARQUES).

FAO has recently helped to develop a new system for Trinidad y Tobago’s Protected Area network, has implemented initiatives to increase the resilience of the Amazon Biome to climate change, and it has facilitated cross-sectoral dialogues on strengthening work on Protected Areas.

Currently, FAO is implementing several projects and field initiatives including:

  • Implementing the socio-ecosystem connectivity approach to conserving and sustainably using biodiversity in the Caribbean region of Colombia.
  • Implementing initiatives to promote the sustainable use of wildlife within Protected Areas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madagascar.
  • Contributing to the conservation and sustainable use of globally significant wetland biodiversity in Jiangxi Province, China.
  • Implementing integrated management of protected and productive forest landscapes for sustainable community development in Solomon Islands.
  • Strengthening protected areas network in Burundi.

last updated:  Wednesday, July 8, 2020