KEY FINDING 8. Both the extent and representativeness of the protected areas network have increased in recent years. In many places, the area protected is well above the United Nations 10% target. It is below the target in highly developed areas and the oceans.
Protected areas are usually set aside to protect biodiversity or cultural resources.1 While some protected areas are managed exclusively for biodiversity, others allow recreational opportunities and still others allow resource use under management regimes that do not jeopardize the long-term sustainability of the natural environment. Protected areas are important because they provide places where ecological processes can evolve, refuges for species at risk, and repositories of genetic material. They also provide opportunities for recreation, spiritual renewal, and the conservation of places of cultural value. Protected areas are one tool for the protection of biodiversity. Sustainable management outside protected areas is equally important.