Stuart H.M. Butchart, BirdLife International
Jörn P.W. Scharlemann, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Mike I. Evans, BirdLife International
Suhel Quader, National Centre for Biological Sciences
Salvatore Aricò, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Julius Arinaitwe, BirdLife International - Africa Partnership Secretariat
Mark Balman, BirdLife International
Leon A. Bennun, BirdLife International
Bastian Bertzky, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Charles Besançon, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Timothy M. Boucher, Nature Conservancy
Thomas M. Brooks, NatureServe
Ian J. Burfield, BirdLife International
Neil D. Burgess, Københavns Universitet
Simba Chan, BirdLife International Asia Regional Office
Rob P. Clay, BirdLife International Americas Secretariat
Mike J. Crosby, BirdLife International
Nicholas C. Davidson, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Naamal de Silva, Conservation International
Christian Devenish, BirdLife International Americas Secretariat
Guy C.L. Dutson, Birds Australia
David F.Díaz Fernández, Aves y Conservación
Lincoln D.C. Fishpool, BirdLife International
Claire Fitzgerald, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Matt Foster, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Melanie F. Heath, BirdLife International
Marc Hockings, The University of Queensland
Michael Hoffmann, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
David Knox, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Frank W. Larsen, Conservation International
John F. Lamoreux, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Document Type


Publication Date



Protected areas (PAs) are a cornerstone of conservation efforts and now cover nearly 13% of the world's land surface, with the world's governments committed to expand this to 17%. However, as biodiversity continues to decline, the effectiveness of PAs in reducing the extinction risk of species remains largely untested. We analyzed PA coverage and trends in species' extinction risk at globally significant sites for conserving birds (10,993 Important Bird Areas, IBAs) and highly threatened vertebrates and conifers (588 Alliance for Zero Extinction sites, AZEs) (referred to collectively hereafter as 'important sites'). Species occurring in important sites with greater PA coverage experienced smaller increases in extinction risk over recent decades: the increase was half as large for bird species with&50% of the IBAs at which they occur completely covered by PAs, and a third lower for birds, mammals and amphibians restricted to protected AZEs (compared with unprotected or partially protected sites). Globally, half of the important sites for biodiversity conservation remain unprotected (49% of IBAs, 51% of AZEs). While PA coverage of important sites has increased over time, the proportion of PA area covering important sites, as opposed to less important land, has declined (by 0.45-1.14% annually since 1950 for IBAs and 0.79-1.49% annually for AZEs). Thus, while appropriately located PAs may slow the rate at which species are driven towards extinction, recent PA network expansion has under-represented important sites. We conclude that better targeted expansion of PA networks would help to improve biodiversity trends. © 2012 Butchart et al.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2012 Butchart et al.



Link to Article at Publisher Website

Included in

Climate Commons