What’s Going On Here?

You’re probably all aware of the IUCN’s red list of threatened species, but have you heard of the organisation’s green list of protected and conserved areas? This week, ten more sites achieved green list status and many more are eagerly working towards meeting the high standards for protected areas laid out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

What Does This Mean?

Conservation is the care and protection of our planet’s natural resources so that they can persist for future generations. More often than not though, conservation is focused around assessing threats and potential extinctions, the green list is the opposite – a global standard recognising the best-managed sites on the planet. But nature reserves need sustainable conservation outcomes to best help protected wildlife. Its absolutely necessary to understand how species interact within their ecosystems, and how they’re affected by environmental and human influences.

Therefore, the rising interest and ambitions of countries around the world to join the IUCN’s Green List or one of the many other great initiatives and campaigns out there is definitely a good sign. Nature reserves need sustainable conservation outcomes to best help protected wildlife, and if more sites are committed to sustainable management, the world’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats get a real survival chance.

With its accessible set of criteria, the IUCN’s Green List Standard motivates action and helps achieve those conservation objectives. Site managers need to demonstrate and maintain good performance and deliver real nature conservation results to become certified. The IUCN’s sustainability standard is organised into four components of successful nature conservation. The baseline components concern Good Governance, Sound Design and Planning and Effective Management (see graphic below for more details). 

Together, these support the fourth component of Successful Conservation Outcomes. With each component having a set of criteria and each criterion a set of generic indicators to measure achievement, IUCN managed to provide a global benchmark for how to meet the environmental challenges of the 21st century. 

The evaluation takes place in three phases: First, the Application Phase, where you have to show commitment and pass an initial evaluation. Second, the Candidate Phase, during which time the site has to implement the full set of IUCN Green List Standard criteria and provide evidence against all criteria prior to being nominated for the final and third phase, the Green List Phase. Once a Candidate site achieves “Green List Status”, the IUCN’s programme focuses on supporting the site to maintain that status. 

With the 10 new additions of this week and a further three existing sites seeing their status renewed, the IUCN Green List now counts 59 sites in 16 countries around the world. On top of that, while you are reading this, around 500 sites in 50 countries are actively working to meet the requirements.

Why Should We Care? 

Protected areas are a universal approach to nature conservation, and the overarching objective of the IUCN Green List Programme is to increase the number of protected and conserved areas that deliver successful conservation outcomes through effective and equitable governance and management. They offer locally relevant expert guidance which can help guarantee that wildlife and ecosystems can survive, thrive and bring value to communities everywhere. Through those various programmes, people learn “that development and conservation can go hand in hand. Because conservation has had economic benefits for communities, it’s not seen as a threat” says Walter Quertehuari Dariquebe, who represents indigenous communities.

While the most obvious reason for conservation is to protect wildlife and promote biodiversity, it’s no secret that the future of our planet desperately needs to be safeguarded. Nature itself is our biggest tool to stop global warming with everything, from tropical forests to coastlines, playing their part in the fight against climate change. Data has also confirmed what many of us suspected: nature and green spaces have been a big comfort during lockdown. So if you really need another reason for doing your best to protect those nature and green spots around you, and all over the world, remember that it will not only help our planet and wildlife, but support your mental and physical well-being, too.

Be Curious!

  • Discover the world’s protected and conserved areas through this global database, you might want to start with France, where the world’s highest number of IUCN Green listed sites are located.
  • Or explore Nature 2000, the European Commission led initiative stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and more than 8% of its marine territory.

Once you’re done virtually admiring those stunning places, you ‘ll likely feel the need to get involved in wildlife conservation, so if you’re not doing it already:

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