COMPREHENSIVE PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEM COMPOSITION
The World Parks Congress in Bali in 1982 had set a target to set aside 10 percent of the world’s terrestrial landmass as protected areas, but it did not indicate which lands. For the majority of the more than 175 countries that have ratified the Convention on Biodiversity it is unknown what their ecosystems and species are and where they occur. Only through extremely efficient selection of spaces to systems of truly protected areas can a significant proportion of the species of the earth be given a chance to survive. Efficiency of selection becomes even more important, when we realise that many species in protected areas will still perish as a result of natural ecological processes taking place in protected areas that will/have become islands of nature in a human-dominated world. In addition to such processes, some anthropogenic influences cannot be stopped at the boundaries of protected areas. Most and for all, climatic change will take a heavy toll, even in the best-managed protected areas. The more species we can select to protected areas systems, the more species will have a chance to weather out the storm of ecological destruction that is currently devastating this planet’s biodiversity. The conservation of the world’s biological heritage in a human-dominated world is a scientific challenge on a par with cracking the genetic code or sending humans to the moon. It requires the collaboration of all sectors of society and a great variety of disciplines, but most and for all, ecological science. If the ecological foundations of conservation are ignored, then all other efforts are likely to fail.
Based on concept development and experimentation since 1992, “Comprehensive Protected Areas System Synthesis and Monitoring” has been developed by a task force of renowned experts in all the primary fields required to bring together both the theoretical background and the institutional experience for such ambitious goal. Their report came out as an IUCN publication as a contribution to the Vth World Parks Congress, in Durban, South Africa. It provides a holistic method and a toolbox for the rational design of protected areas systems that maximise species conservation through targeted selection, based on broadly accepted ecological principles. The identification is based on appropriate technology computer programmes and techniques that allow the user to identify and map biodiversity using ecological surrogates to spatially distinguish species assemblages. A monitoring programme with additional tools and manuals, builds on the initial selection as a baseline, while it gradually furthers the biological knowledge of protected areas on the basis of relevant field observations. A protected areas costing module, can help policy makers, planners and managers with the complex process of raising and distributing the finances needed to operate the protected areas systems.
For a long time, ecosystem mapping has been possible from aerial photographs, and this was applied in some parts of Africa, in Belize and in Western Europe on a moderate scale. Interpretation was slow and the photographs were expensive and national sets were often incomplete. As a result, the maps of natural vegetation covered only few parts of the world. It was not until the 1990s that satellite images had become effectively available to a broader gremium of scientists and biologists. Some of the first detailed mapping applications with remotely sensed imagery for the tropics was the pioneering work by Iremonger in 1993, 1994 and 1997. These were important advances as they facilitated much faster and more cost-effective mapping, particularly after the LANDSAT 7 imagery became available for less than US $500 per image in the year 2000. GIS software had also become more broadly available which can now be operated from regular desktop computers.
Bank/Netherlands Government/CCAD financed the production of an
ecosystem-mapping, spanning more than 1500 km from Belize to Panama: the “Map
of the Ecosystems of Central America”. Ecosystems were mapped by more than 20
scientists using the “Tentative Physiognomic-Ecological Classification of
Plant Formations of the Earth”, developed under the auspices of the UNESCO,
complemented with additional aquatic ecosystems and some floristic modifiers.
The term ecosystem was used, because it was argued that areas with distinct
physiognomic and ecological characteristics would not only have partially
distinct sets of floristic elements, but also partially distinct sets of fauna
and fungi elements. It was demonstrated that ecosystems derived from such
criteria could be identified in considerable detail and a short period, using
satellite images and teams of experienced national biologists. This opened the
way to worldwide detailed identification and localisation of ecosystems and
related species assemblages. Never before was it possible to generate
geographically unbiased data, as all existing databases – even in developed
countries - are heavily biased by road-access, research facilities and
site-choice by researchers. It now has become possible to distinguish and map
partially distinct assemblages of species rapidly in considerable detail from
recent datasets reflecting current situations and without aforementioned factors
of bias. These ecosystem maps finally make it possible to carry out unbiased
part of that map was used to evaluate the presence and gaps of ecosystem
representation in the protected areas system, SINAPH, of Honduras. An MS-Excel
based spreadsheet evaluation programme called “MICOSYS” was used to compare
the relative importance of each area and to design alternative models for
protected areas system for different scenarios of conservation security and
socio-economic benefits. To achieve this, very specific criteria are needed that
allow differentiation of size requirements for protected areas depending on a
variety of factors such as Minimum Viable Population (MVPs) and Minimum Area
requirements (MARs), functionality for both terrestrial and aquatic species of
animals, plants and fungi, as well as ecosystem characteristics. Solid
ecological principles, enriched with some new considerations on species survival
have been integrated into a holistic approach that allows the synthesis of
comprehensive rational protected areas systems. New concepts are presented on
the minimum required sizes of protected areas, in which not merely top predators
were considered as limiting factors, but ecosystems. As far as the SLOSS (Single
Large Or Several Small reserves) debate is concerned, it is clear that we will
need SLASS: Some Large And Several Small reserves, the latter complementing
ecosystems absent in the large areas protected areas. The method not only
generates differentiation in importance of the protected areas on the basis of
socio-economic and ecological factors, but it also calculates estimates of
investment needs and recurrent costs. It was originally developed in 1992 for
Costa Rica, but it is country-size independent and may be applied anywhere in
the world. It is very flexible and may be complemented with other methods,
particularly the Important Bird Areas of Birdlife International and the Rapid
Assessment and Prioritisation of Protected Area Management (RAPPAM) Methodology
of the WWF. The cost calculations in MICOSYS are of strategic importance.
Governments all over the world have made great progress in institutionalising
protected areas. But it was only a first necessary step. Adequate funding has
not yet come along to meet the requirements. A realistic idea about costs is
necessary to work toward finding solutions to the financing problem.
One of the
by-products of the Map of the Ecosystems of Central America is an
MS-Access-based database called Ecosystems Monitoring Database, for the storage
of ecological field information, consisting of tracking information to support
physical physiognomic and floristic information. The database has been expanded
to also store information on fauna as well as essential information on the use
of natural resources and visitation within an area, thus creating a tool for
protected area or ecosystem monitoring. In Honduras, a monitoring approach was
developed and the database had become fully integrated and made user-friendlier,
so that it could also be used by park rangers.
The techniques used in the methodology are all known methods based on commonly accepted ecological principles The methodology has been developed, evaluated and tested for more than a decade and consists of an “appropriate technology” approach. User-friendly applications were designed in familiar programmes to be accessible to national scientists and rangers anywhere in the world. Each application may be used independently and may be customised to suit national needs. It has not been designed to replace existing monitoring systems, but to be available for countries where a database is not yet available or for individual users and or protected areas.
MICOSYS is the oldest and most widely used comprehensive protected areas system analysis tool. important evaluation and weighting factors include area size, ecosystems, species of special concern, endemic species, flag species, socio-economic factors, like ecotourism, watershed use, habitation, land-ownership, etc. It weights each individual areas based on a scoring system and it generates investment and recurrent costs estimates, staff requirements and infrastructural requirements.
This file has been loaded with the data of Honduras to give a realistic case sample. Areas and data may be replaced with information of any country of the world.
Protected Areas and Ecosystem Monitoring Database. This link takes you to our Monitoring page, where the monitoring concepts are elaborated in great detail and where a large variety of customised documents can be downloaded in support of the downloadable database tool as well as a protected areas management evaluation tool, both running in MSAccess.
An important part of organized species selection is based on the "Species-Area Curve".
This spreadsheet on species-area curve variables allows you to see what percentage of species of an ecosystem may be conserved with varying z values of the species - area curve. For more background please visit our webpage: http://www.ecosystems.ws/minimum_area.htm
The Honduras Case Study
Glosario de Términos de Biodiversidad
Glosario de términos Es un dictionario de casi 6000 términos en línea escrito por Dr. Maarten Kappelle (2004) con financiamiento de la Cooperación Español y publicado en línea por INBio de Costa Rica. (Spanish only)
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