The 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress, held 6-15 September in Jeju, Korea, was the launch site for several new reports and initiatives related to marine protected areas. Among the highlights:
New guidelines on applying protected area management categories to MPAs
With a goal to make it more difficult for fisheries agencies to categorize area mechanisms that exploit fish as being MPAs, IUCN has produced a new set of guidelines for applying its protected area management categories. The guidelines clarify that if marine areas involve extractive use and have no defined long-term goals of conservation and ocean recovery, they should not be considered MPAs.
"It is time to stop pretending more of the ocean is protected than it actually is," said Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice-Chair of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, in a press statement. The guidelines also suggest pipelines and offshore wind farms should not be considered MPAs unless they are set up specifically with clear long-term conservation objectives in mind.
IUCN concludes that of the MPAs that have been categorized worldwide, about 50% have been wrongly allocated; this is typically because the name of the MPA (e.g., National Park, Sanctuary, etc.) was used to determine the category, rather than the management objectives. Guidelines for Applying the IUCN Protected Area Management Categories to Marine Protected Areas is available at https://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/iucn_categoriesmpa_eng.pdf
IUCN to create Green List of Well-Managed Protected Areas
To recognize protected areas that are meeting conservation goals and to act as a benchmark for progress toward effective management, IUCN is developing a "Green List" of sites that have satisfied a threshold of agreed criteria. Advantages of inscription on the Green List are anticipated to include greater international recognition for the protected area and increased political support. Pilot projects to test the Green List concept are underway in Korea, Colombia, and elsewhere. A press release on the Green List is at www.iucn.org/?uNewsID=10914
New biannual report on global protected area coverage
The first edition of what will be a biannual report on global progress toward protected area coverage goals was released at the Congress. The Protected Planet Report 2012 determines protected areas cover 12.7% of the world's terrestrial area but just 1.6% of the global ocean area. Compiled by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, and several other organizations, the 68-page report is available at http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/gpap_home/gpap_biodiversity/gpap_protectedplanet/?10866/ProtectedPlanet-Report
Guidelines on ecological restoration of protected areas
Modeled on Canada's national approach to ecological restoration, a new set of guidelines is available on restoring ecosystems in protected areas. The Canadian approach integrates habitat restoration with meaningful visitor experiences and learning opportunities. Co-produced by Parks Canada, IUCN, the Society for Ecological Restoration, and other institutions, the report Ecological Restoration for Protected Areas: Principles, Guidelines, and Best Practices is available at www.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/PAG-018.pdf