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Data Sources and Methods for the Global Trends in Protected Areas Indicator

3. Data

3.1 Data source

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) contains data from governments and non-governmental organizations. Elements of a summary analysis of the WDPA made by United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP–WCMC) in 2014 for the Protected Planet 2014 report were used to create the indicator.

3.2 Spatial coverage

Coverage is global.

3.3 Temporal coverage

The WDPA is continually being updated and is made available on Protected Planet.Footnote [1] A major update was completed in 2014, following a request by the Convention on Biological Diversity to the Parties to the Convention (SCBD/SAM/DC/RH/83023) for updates to the United Nations List on Protected Areas. Information on individual protected areas includes their date of establishment.

3.4 Data completeness

The WDPA is compiled by UNEP–WCMC from data provided by protected area authorities relevant to the governance type of the protected area. For example, government agencies provide data on federal protected areas, sub-national agencies provide data on sub-national areas, non-governmental organizations may provide data on protected areas they own and manage, communities may provide data on the areas they protect and manage, and so on. The capacity, methods and formats of data management vary within and between data providers; therefore, the WDPA is a mosaic of geographic information system (GIS) data at varying levels of completeness, resolution and quality. Nevertheless, data accepted by the WDPA must meet a minimum standard.

Protected areas with unknown location and/or extent are excluded from the GIS analysis and statistics. Protected areas with unknown year of establishment are included in the GIS analysis and statistics from the earliest year reported and for every subsequent year reported.

Analyses of marine protection are conducted for the territorial seaFootnote [2] and exclusive economic zoneFootnote [3] (EEZ) of each country, as well as for the global ocean; claimed areas of continental shelf are not considered. Disputed land and sea that are covered by protected areas are included as a group on their own and are included in global totals, but not in national statistics. Similarly, the Great Lakes, Caspian Sea and Aral Sea are excluded from national but not global totals.

Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Reserves were excluded on the advice of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Programme in which they have stated only the core zone of MAB Reserves may be considered protected. These zones are not well defined in the WDPA, and the effect of their exclusion is small as they often overlap with other types of protected areas.

3.5 Data timeliness

Statistics were compiled for the Protected Planet Report 2014 using the August 2014 version of the WDPA.


Footnote 1

Some countries restrict the redistribution of their data; these data are not available publicly.

Return to footnote [1] referrer

Footnote 2

Territorial sea is defined as the area of the sea from the shoreline out to 12 nautical miles. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2014) Canada's Ocean Estate; A Description of Canada's Maritime Zones. Retrieved on 10 December, 2014.

Return to footnote [2] referrer

Footnote 3

The exclusive economic zone is an area of the sea adjacent to and beyond the territorial sea, extending out to 200 nautical miles from low water lines. See Fisheries and Oceans Canada (2014) Canada's Ocean Estate; A Description of Canada's Maritime Zones. Retrieved on 10 December, 2014.

Return to footnote [3] referrer