New Paper: Wildlife trends in protected areas predicted by national socio-economic metrics & body size

Our paper, out today in the journal Nature Communications investigated what delivers success for wildlife in protected areas.National Parks are the cornerstone of most country’s conservation efforts, so it’s essential they work to conserve nature.

To make sure that parks achieve their conservation mission, we investigated what made them tick, what conditions resulted in improved wildlife trends, and what might create barriers to successful conservation in protected areas. Our study is the largest ever investigation of wildlife trends in protected areas. It examined 1902 populations of 556 species of birds and mammals in 447 protected areas across 72 countries.


We found that on average, monitored protected areas around the world successfully safeguard wildlife – birds are doing than mammals, and in Europe trends were more positive than in Africa.


Most notably, protected areas in wealthier, more developed countries performed better. The socio-economic conditions of the country in which a park is located was a more important indicator of success than other factors such as the protected area size, design or type.

“It’s clear that it’s really important to tailor protected area management strategies to social and political conditions. Wildlife protection needs strong national governance to be successful”

There are still many protected areas where wildlife populations are declining, and these need urgent support, especially in developing nations, if they are to successfully preserve their biodiversity in perpetuity.

“Unexpectedly, we also found the largest-bodied wildlife were doing the best, the giraffes and buffalo had more positive populations than smaller species like jackals.

Wild dog, Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango Delta, Botswana, 2015, credit Alison Woodley

The study was part of an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) taskforce involving species experts from the Species Survival Commission (SSC) and protected areas specialists from the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as part of an ongoing collaboration, and we presented the findings as part of a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress – check out the summary here


Read more in our article in The Conversation


Check out the paper

‘Wildlife population trends in protected areas predicted by national socio-economic metrics and body size’ is published in the journal Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12747






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