Public Release: 

Articles on protected area management published in BioScience

Special section of monthly journal provides in-depth analyses

American Institute of Biological Sciences

Over 44,000 protected areas exist worldwide, covering nearly 14 million square kilometers. Although widely recognized as a cost-effective way to conserve biodiversity--their total area has doubled since 1975--protected areas face numerous problems. The BioScience Special Section is published immediately before the World Parks Congress being held in Durban, South Africa, from 8 September to 17 September. The coordinator of the Special Section is Jamison Ervin, a consultant to the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The Special Section includes an introductory article and four in-depth articles that describe and evaluate assessment systems that can be used to identify the most important threats facing protected areas. These include direct threats to the natural and cultural resources the areas are intended to protect, inadequate resources, and institutional problems such as inappropriate policies and inadequately trained staff.

An article by Marc Hockings, "Systems for Assessing the Effectiveness of Management in Protected Areas," reviews 27 different assessment methodologies, including ones based on quantitative and qualitative data, using an evaluation framework developed by the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). Only one of the methodologies reviewed by Hockings addressed all the elements considered in the WCPA framework (context, planning, input, process, output, and outcome). Hockings urges that assessments of protected area management effectiveness be more widely used, and that monitoring and evaluation become standard practices.

Jamison Ervin's article "Rapid Assessment of Protected Area Management Effectiveness in Four Countries" summarizes results from implementation of the Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM) methodology developed by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The approach highlighted five threats that warranted concerted policy efforts: poaching, alien plants, tourism, logging, and encroachment. Five critical management issues that emerged were funding, staffing, research and monitoring, resource inventories, and community relations.

An article by Peter S. Goodman, "Assessing Management and Setting Priorities in Protected Areas in KwaZulu-Natal," describes a RAPPAM assessment of 110 protected areas throughout KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. The assessment identified management problems, including poor design and layout of protected areas, inadequate financial resources, and staffing difficulties. The assessment, which has been influential in guiding changes in the management of protected areas in the region, also identified major threats, foremost of which is invasive alien plants.

An article by Jeffrey D. Parrish, David P. Braun, and Robert S. Unnasch, "Are We Conserving What We Say We Are? Measuring Ecological Integrity within Protected Areas," describes a framework developed by The Nature Conservancy for measuring the effectiveness of protected areas. The framework is called "Measures of Success." It entails specifying a limited number of conservation targets, specifying key ecological attributes for the targets and an acceptable range of variation for each, and rating the status of targets on the basis of whether the key attributes are within their acceptable ranges. The authors state that their approach can focus strategy development along ecological, rather than jurisdictional, boundaries.

An additional overview article by Jamison Ervin introduces the other articles in the Special Section. It discusses the scope of assessments of management effectiveness and some of the differences between approaches.


Journalists may obtain copies of the articles in the Special Section by contacting Donna Royston, AIBS communications representative, after 27 August. The articles are embargoed until 1 September.

BioScience publishes commentary and peer-reviewed articles covering a wide range of biological fields, including conservation biology. The journal has been published since 1964. The American Institute of Biological Sciences is an umbrella organization for professional scientific societies and organizations that are involved with biology. It represents 90 member societies and organizations with a combined membership of over 247,000.


BioScience online:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.