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Data Sources and Methods for the Protected Areas, International Comparison Indicator

Caveats and limitations

The extent to which the land areas including inland waters of a country/territory are protected is a useful indicator of Government’s will to protect biodiversity. However, it is neither an indication of how well managed the terrestrial protected areas are, nor confirmation that protection measures are effectively enforced. Further, the indicator does not provide information on non-designated or internationally designated protected areas that may also be important for conserving biodiversity.

There are known data and knowledge gaps for some countries/regions due to difficulties in reporting national protected area data to the WDPA and/or determining whether a site conforms to the IUCN definition of a protected area.

Data availability, both in terms of quantity and quality, is improving but not evenly across the globe. Data on terrestrial protected area coverage are available for over 220 countries/territories.

4.1 Sources of discrepancies between global and national figures

UNEP-WCMC aggregates the global and regional figures for this indicator from the national figures calculated through GIS analysis. The global, regional and national figures provided by UNEP-WCMC are therefore consistent. Gaps and/or time lags in reporting national protected area data to the WDPA can however result in discrepancies between the national figures provided by UNEP-WCMC and national figures available from national agencies. The WDPA 2010 analysis uses an older version of the Conservation Areas Reporting and Tracking System (CARTS), and does not consider the marine portions of protected areas that are primarily terrestrial.