Data Sources and Methods for the Protected Areas Indicators
Description and rationale of the Protected Areas indicators
The Protected Areas indicators report the amount and proportion of Canada’s terrestrial (land and freshwater) and marine area that is assessed as protected under the international definition of a protected area as “a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”. Land and/or water access, use and activities are legally restricted, permanently or temporarily, primarily for the purpose of conserving biodiversity and ecosystem function, regardless of proprietary designation (e.g., park, conservation area, wildlife reserve). Geographic breakdowns by jurisdiction and by ecological region are also provided.
The area of land and waters that is protected is a measure of human response to the loss of biodiversity and natural habitat. As the amount of protected area in Canada increases, more natural landscapes are withdrawn from direct human development stresses, thereby preserving ecosystem services and contributing to biodiversity conservation. While the results can be linked to International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standards for management goals, the degree to which the areas are ecologically intact and protected from the combined impact of human activities is not known. Many countries use protected areas as the core of their programs to preserve biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecological services.
The Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which includes Canada, set an aspirational target to set aside 17% of terrestrial areas and inland waters and at least 10% of marine areas, by 2020. This is one of 20 targets collectively known as the Aichi Target, established in October 2010. The protected area target supersedes the previous target set in 2004, of having 10% of each ecological region protected by 2010.
2.3 Changes since last report
The quality and completeness of protected areas data have continued to improve. In contrast to CESI reporting for 2010, areas with no reported IUCN category are no longer included. This improves consistency with international reporting.
 Dudley N (2008) Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories (PDF; 2.07 MB), IUCN: Gland, Switzerland, page 6. Retrieved on 16 April, 2012.
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