Creating parks and protected areas is one of the most effective conservation strategies to protect biodiversity. Protected areas provide habitat for many species, but they also provide essential goods and ecosystem services for human well-being. For example, many protected areas act as natural reservoirs for agriculturally important biodiversity, including wild crop relatives, pollinators and pest control. In addition, one-third (33 of 105) of the world’s largest cities including Mumbai, New York, Sofia, Bogotá, Dar es Salaam, Melbourne, Quito, Tokyo and Sydney receive a significant proportion of their drinking water supplies directly from forest protected areas. Read more+
In 1992, protected areas only covered 4 percent of the globe. As of 2015, based on data from the World Database on Protected Areas and the Protected Planet report, 15.4 percent of the world’s terrestrial and inland water areas, covering 20.6 million km2, 10.9 percent of coastal waters (0-12 nautical miles), and 8.4 percent of marine areas within national jurisdiction (exclusive economic zone; 0-200 nautical miles) are included under a total of about 209,000 designated protected areas.
What We Do
The GEF helps create sustainable protected area systems by providing support to countries to:
1) effectively establish and protect ecologically viable and climate-resilient representative samples of a country’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems and provide adequate coverage of threatened species at a sufficient scale to ensure their long-term persistence
2) ensure that sufficient and predictable financial resources are available to support protected area management costs
3) build individual and institutional capacity to manage protected areas such that they achieve their conservation objectives.
The GEF promotes the participation and capacity building of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, especially women, in the design, implementation and management of protected area projects through established frameworks such as Indigenous and community conserved areas.1 The GEF also promotes protected area co-management between government and Indigenous Peoples and local communities where such management models are appropriate.
1Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas are natural sites, resources and species’ habitats conserved in voluntary and self-directed ways by Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
GEF support to the establishment and management of protected area systems and associated buffer zones and biological corridors has arguably been the GEF’s greatest achievement during the last 20 years. Supporting the management of protected areas is not only a sound investment in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, but also provides significant additional economic and environmental benefits beyond the existence value of biodiversity. Read more+
Since its inception, the GEF has invested in improving the management of 3,300 protected areas covering an area of about 860 million ha, an area larger than the size of Brazil. In addition, the GEF has supported 60 countries to implement system-wide protected area finance strategies through a combination of conservation trust funds (40 worldwide totaling US$300 million), payment for ecosystem services schemes, revolving funds, tourism fees, ecosystem service valuation and other financial mechanisms to provide steady, reliable funding for protected area management and biodiversity conservation.
The GEF Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) project in Brazil received the inaugural Development Impact Honors award from the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2012 for helping Brazil achieve a four-year decline in deforestation rates. The two phases of the project created 37.5 million ha of new protected, established sustainable development centers and consolidated 32 million ha of existing areas. ARPA's two phases ensure the protection of nearly 70 million ha of rainforest, which will save more than 1.1 billion tons of CO2 emissions.