One third of the world’s protected lands are being degraded by human activities and are not fit for purpose, according to a new study. Six million sq km of forests, parks and conservation areas are under “intense human pressure” from mining, logging and farming. Countries rich and poor, are quick to designate protected areas but fail to follow up with funding and enforcement.
This is why biodiversity is still in catastrophic decline, the authors say. Since the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1992, the areas under protection have doubled in size and now amount to almost 15% of the lands and 8% of the oceans.
But researchers now say that many of these protected areas are in reality “paper parks”, where activities, such as building roads, installing power lines, even building cities, continue without restrictions.
“What we have shown is that six million sq km have this level of human influence that is harmful to the species they are trying to protect,” says the study’s senior author, Prof James Watson from the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society.