MEPS 434:251-266 (2011)  -  doi:10.3354/meps09214

REVIEW
Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea

Camilo Mora1,3,*, Peter F. Sale2

1Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada
2Institute for Water, Environment and Health, United Nations University, Port Carling, Ontario P0B 1J0, Canada
3Present address: Department of Geography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

ABSTRACT: A leading strategy in international efforts to reverse ongoing losses in biodiversity is the use of protected areas. We use a broad range of data and a review of the literature to show that the effectiveness of existing, and the current pace of the establishment of new, protected areas will not be able to overcome current trends of loss of marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Despite local successes of well-designed and well-managed protected areas proving effective in stemming biodiversity loss, there are significant shortcomings in the usual process of implementation of protected areas that preclude relying on them as a global solution to this problem. The shortcomings include technical problems associated with large gaps in the coverage of critical ecological processes related to individual home ranges and propagule dispersal, and the overall failure of such areas to protect against the broad range of threats affecting ecosystems. Practical issues include budget constraints, conflicts with human development, and a growing human population that will increase not only the extent of anthropogenic stressors but the difficulty in successfully enforcing protected areas. While efforts towards improving and increasing the number and/or size of protected areas must continue, there is a clear and urgent need for the development of additional solutions for biodiversity loss, particularly ones that stabilize the size of the world’s human population and our ecological demands on biodiversity.


KEY WORDS: Land protected areas · Marine protected areas · Effectiveness · Conservation · Biodiversity loss · Human population · Human consumption


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Cite this article as: Mora C, Sale PF (2011) Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 434:251-266

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