The question of where to best place new protected areas remains hotly debated by both scientists and managers. Historically parks have been placed in remote places, where they cause the least inconvenience to people and commercial development. This is because it is politically and practically easier to place parks far away, and there is the added advantage that large remote parks are great for increasing the total number of hectares ‘protected’. This would be fine if biodiversity was confined solely to remote areas but there are many places where unique biodiversity occurs non-remote regions.
We argued in recent correspondance that parks should be placed in areas where they have the most potential to reduce biodiversity loss. Big remote parks might look impressive on maps but they are in places with low threat to biodiversity so actually offer little additional protection – those remote regions are unlikely to be developed anyway. Protected area gains should be measured not in terms of square kilometres or percentages of regions or jurisdictions, but in terms of avoided biodiversity loss.
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McCauley, D. J., E. A. Power, D. W. Bird, A. McInturff, R. B. Dunbar, W. H. Durham, F. Micheli and H. S. Young (2013). “Conservation at the edges of the world.” Biological Conservation 165(0): 139-145.
Craigie, I. D., R. L. Pressey and M. Barnes (2014). “Remote regions – The last places where conservation efforts should be intensified. A reply to McCauley et al.” Biological Conservation 172(0): 221-222.
McCauley, D. J., H. S. Young, E. A. Power, D. W. Bird, W. H. Durham, A. McInturff, R. B. Dunbar, F. Micheli and H. S. Young (2014). “Pushing back against paper-park pushers – Reply to Craigie et al.” Biological Conservation 172(0): 223-224.
Devillers, R., R. L. Pressey, A. Grech, J. N. Kittinger, G. J. Edgar, T. Ward and R. Watson (2014). “Reinventing residual reserves in the sea: are we favouring ease of establishment over need for protection?” Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems: Online In Press.