National Parks Systems
Home Up National Parks Systems Worldwide PA financing1 Worldwide PA financing2





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.

The World 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 gap/presence analysis.

The Honduran 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.

You can download the full report: Comprehensive Protected Areas System Composition and Management.

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.

Species-Area Curve

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: 


The Honduras Case Study

This page presents the full Honduras case study with all the report files.

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) 

  This page has been visited   times since May 25, 2005

NATURE WORLDWIDE is the official website of the World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE. It is an integrated network of web sites dealing with different topics on nature, nature conservation and natural resources management. Read here why we created Nature Worldwide. Our Methodology explains how we produced our information. Our Site Map helps you find your way in the website. We made this website out of passion for conservation. We spent our own salaries and free time to gather the information and publish it on these websites, in total valuing hundreds of thousands of dollars of professional time. Nobody pays us to do this. We simply want to contribute to conservation. If you appreciate our work, PLEASE visit our site Adopt A Ranger and see how you can make a difference for conservation most effectively: By paying one day of the salary of a ranger, you will make a difference in conserving the lives of thousands of birds, other critters and entire forests. Check our sitemap. Enjoy!

NATURE DU MONDE est le site Web officiel du World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE, C'est une collection intégrée de sites web qui traitent avec des sujets différents sur nature, conservation de la nature et gestion des ressources naturelles. Lisez ici pourquoi nous avons créé Nature de Monde. Notre Methodologie explique comme nous avons produit nos renseignements. Notre Site Map vous aide trouver votre entrée dans le site web. Beaucoup de plaisir!

NATURALEZA DEL MUNDO es la página Web oficial del World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE, Es una red de páginas Web tratando de temas diferentes relacionados a la naturaleza, la conservación el manejo de recursos naturales, parques nacionales y áreas protegidas. Lea aqui porqué hicimos Naturaleza del Mundo. Nuestra Methodología explica como produjimos la información. Nuestro Mapa del sitio le ayuda encontrar su información en nuestra página web. Disfrute! 

NATUREZA DO MUNDO é o Web site oficial do World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE, Es uma red de páginas Web tratando de temas diferentes relacionados à natureza, la conservação el manejo de recursos naturaleiss, parques nacionais y áreas protegidas. Lea aqui porqué creamos Natureza do Mundo. Nossa Methodología explica como produjimos a informação. Nosso Mapa do sitio le ayuda encontrar sua informação no web site. Desfrute!

NATUR DER GANZEN WELT ist, die offiziellen Website der World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE. Es ist ein einheitliches Netzwerk von Web Sites, über Themen wie Natur, Natur-Schutz und natürlichem Ressourcen Quellen Hege. Lesen Sie hier warum wir Natur der ganzen Welt gemacht haben. Un

sere Verfahrensweise erklärt, wie wir unsere Informationen produziert würde. Unsere Site Map  hilft Ihnen Ihren Weg im Website zu finden. Viel Spaß!

NATUUR UIT ALLE STREKEN is, de officiële Website van het World Institute for Conservation and Environment, WICE. Het is een geïntegreerd Netwerk van websites, over Natuur, Natuurbescherming en het beheer van natuurlijke hulpbronnen. Lesen Sie hier warum wir Natuur uit alle Streken gemacht haben. Onze pagina Methode legt uit, hoe we onze informatie vergaarden. Onze Site Map helpt u op weg door onze website. 

WICE is a worldwide non-government non-profit organization that contributes to the conservation of nature. While it works on a many issues related to the conservation of nature and the protection of the environment, it is particularly committed to the conservation of national parks and other protected areas.

  Please read the disclaimer