Measuring benefits of protected area management

trends across realms and research gaps for freshwater systems

Vanessa M. Adams*, Samantha A. Setterfield, Michael M. Douglas, Mark J. Kennard, Keith Ferdinands

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Protected areas remain a cornerstone for global conservation. However, their effectiveness at halting biodiversity decline is not fully understood. Studies of protected area benefits have largely focused on measuring their impact on halting deforestation and have neglected to measure the impacts of protected areas on other threats. Evaluations that measure the impact of protected area management require more complex evaluation designs and datasets. This is the case across realms (terrestrial, freshwater, marine), but measuring the impact of protected area management in freshwater systems may be even more difficult owing to the high level of connectivity and potential for threat propagation within systems (e.g. downstream flow of pollution). We review the potential barriers to conducting impact evaluation for protected area management in freshwater systems. We contrast the barriers identified for freshwater systems to terrestrial systems and discuss potential measurable outcomes and confounders associated with protected area management across the two realms. We identify key research gaps in conducting impact evaluation in freshwater systems that relate to three of their major characteristics: variability, connectivity and time lags in outcomes. Lastly, we use Kakadu National Park world heritage area, the largest national park in Australia, as a case study to illustrate the challenges of measuring impacts of protected area management programmes for environmental outcomes in freshwater systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140274
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume370
Issue number1681
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • impact evaluation
  • protected area management
  • freshwater ecosystems
  • Kakadu National Park

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