PS 49-96
Ecological effectiveness of protected areas: A case study from the Miombo ecoregion

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Nyeema C Harris, WWF International, Luc Hoffmann Institute, Geneva, Switzerland
Background/Question/Methods The designation of protected areas remains the cornerstone of conservation efforts to preserve biodiversity and arguably ecological processes. Global commitments from governments aim to expand the coverage of protected areas in terrestrial and marine ecosystems to 17% and 10%, respectively by 2020.  However, a comprehensive appraisal of “performance” for the current protected area network is a necessary precursor to expansion. I assess coverage and the ecological effectiveness of protected areas using data on biodiversity, biomass change and deforestation, and animal population trend from the Miombo ecoregion. 

Results/Conclusions The Miombo ecoregion spans 3.8 million km2 across 11 countries of southern Africa comprised of ~1500 protected areas (32% under protection). Population data shows varying trends from complete extirpations inside protected areas in the last 20 years to over 10-fold increases throughout the region. Deforestation inside protected areas is expanding rapidly due to alternative land demands, primarily from mining and agricultural expansion. These findings highlight the complexity of understanding the ecological performance of protected areas in coupled natural-human ecosystems.