Friday, September 24

It is inspiring hope and change, but what is the IUCN Green List? | Conservation

When the Kawésqar National Park was formed in the Chilean part of Patagonia in 2019, only one ranger was responsible for an expanse the size of Belgium. Its fjords, forests and Andean peaks are a beautiful wild nature, one of the few ecosystems left untouched by human activity, along with parts of the Amazon, the Sahara and eastern Siberia.

Chilean officials hope that Kawésqar will one day meet the high standards for protected areas set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and make it on the organization’s “green list”.

IUCN green list of protected and conserved areas is less known than his red list of threatened species. But this week, 10 more sites, in Switzerland, France and Italy, reached green list status, which total to 59 sites in 16 countries. The Contamines-Montjoie National Nature Reserve, near Mont Blanc, was one of seven added in France. increasing the country’s sites to 22, the highest number in the world. Approximately 500 sites in 50 countries are working to meet 17 governance, planning, management and nature preservation requirements to achieve this status.

Swiss National Park, Switzerland IUCN Green List
The Swiss National Park, a breeding area for golden eagles and bearded vultures, became the first site on Switzerland’s green list. Photograph: Hans Lozza / IUCN

In Chile, the rule has supported a large conservation campaign, including an update of the national park system. The country has established a large network of protected areas in Patagonia, with more rangers in Kawésqar. On Earth Day, Chile announced that it would propose two parks for green list approval.

“The green list is an opportunity for aspiration and hope. Conservation is often about red lists, threats, and possible extinctions. This is the opposite, ”says Víctor Lagos San Martín, head of monitoring, development and governance of wild areas at the National Forestry Corporation of Chile. “The list helps us figure out how we can paint the planet green. It helped our plans for the national park system. “

One of the strengths of the standard is that it doesn’t always reward the usual suspects in conservation, according to James Hardcastle, who leads the IUCN green list initiative. It is designed to recognize success stories, big and small. Along with established national parks, indigenous reserves and provincial parks have achieved status, while the better known protected areas are still working to get on the list.

Hardcastle says the standard aims to improve the quality of conservation work around the world and, where necessary, encourage parks and governments to confront difficult truths about indigenous rights and unsustainable tourism models.

Tuscan archipelago, part of the Unesco biosphere reserve Isole di Toscana, Italy
The Arcipelago Toscano national park is one of the two new sites on the Italian green list. Its seven Mediterranean islands are rich in endemic flowers. Photography: Archipelago Toscano National Park Archive / IUCN

“We have around 250,000 protected areas and global studies show that most of them are not managed effectively,” he says. “Successful conservation is only achieved when the balance of caring for local interests and values ​​with reference to national and international elements is achieved.”

Questions and answers

What is the plan to protect 30% of the planet for nature?


The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has wrote a document outlining commitments to nature until 2030. One of the key features of the commitment, to be agreed next year, is to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 in an attempt to halt the loss of global biodiversity. This would roughly double the current amount of protected land and quadruple the size of marine protected areas.

The idea of ​​protecting large areas of the planet is not new. In the 1970s, calls to protect half the world began with the Nature needs half movement. One of the most respected biologists in the world, Edward O Wilson, was at the center of this plan and in 2016 published a book, Half-Earth. In 2017, 49 scientists wrote an article looking at how feasible Middle Earth would be. They recommended a global agreement for nature, such as the Paris climate agreement, which promoted increasing habitat protection to 50% by 2050. It appears that the 30% plan by 2030 is the one that will be agreed.

A global assessment carried out by 100 experts found that the benefits of protecting 30% were five times greater than the cost of doing so and would provide significant benefits in the form of ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation, flood protection, soil conservation and clean water supply. These “public goods” would increase economic output by between $ 64 billion and $ 454 billion each year, the researchers estimated. The report, commissioned by the Campaign for Nature charity, found that protecting a third of the planet would also prevent mass extinction.

What exactly is considered “protected” land is still debated, with many expressing concern about “paper parks” that actually do little to support nature. In the UK, for example, 26% of the land is theoretically protected, but in practice it is estimated that 5% is protected. The European Commission has recognized that mismanagement of protected sites is an EU-wide problem that is having “disastrous consequences on biodiversity”. Therefore, it is also necessary to improve the management of existing protected sites to halt the catastrophic loss of biodiversity.

A commitment to protect around 30% of the land and sea by 2030 is likely to be agreed upon at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which is scheduled for later this year in Kunming, China.

Dozens of countries, including the UK, Costa Rica and France, have already pledged.

Hardcastle hopes that the green list standards will prevent countries from imposing strict controls on areas in the name of nature conservation to meet these commitments.

“The green list is not a beauty pageant nor is it about showing who is the greatest. We have sites like the Amarakaeri reserve in Peru, which is an indigenous territory. Conservation there is just as effective, if not better, than a strict protection model. When you have smaller sites on the green list, you get a bit of a competitive advantage to do that, ”he says.

The Communal Archeology Reserve in the Amazon basin in eastern Peru it is managed through a partnership with the government and the Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga communities, protecting the forest from illegal gold miners, loggers and drug smuggling. The reserve maintains the water quality of the area and operates a sustainable nut crop to support local communities.

“I am convinced that you cannot have protected areas for nature if the people who live in and around them do not benefit. For me, our co-governance model is a big step forward, ”says Asvin Florez Gil, who heads the government side of the Amarakaeri reserve association. “Protected areas do not have to be a threat to indigenous communities. Quite the opposite. “

Casentinesi forests, Mount Falterona and Campigna National Park
The Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona and Campigna national park, in the Apennines, preserves one of the largest mature beech forests in Italy. Photo: National Forest Park Casentinesi Archive / IUCN

Walter Quertehuari Dariquebe, who represents the indigenous communities in the alliance, is clear about the benefits.

“We have learned that development and conservation can go hand in hand. Because conservation has had economic benefits for communities, it is not seen as a threat, ”he says.

“It is a shared governance structure. We make decisions and look for opportunities together. We are different from a national park that is a bit more reserved and structured. In the reserve we can take advantage of the resources in a sustainable way ”.

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