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The effectiveness of global protected areas for climate change mitigation

Forests play a critical role in stabilizing Earth’s climate. Establishing protected areas (PAs) represents one approach to forest conservation, but PAs were rarely created to mitigate climate change. The global impact of PAs on the carbon cycle has not previously been quantified due to a lack of accurate global-scale carbon stock maps. Here we used ~412 million lidar samples from NASA’s GEDI mission to estimate a total PA aboveground carbon (C) stock of 61.43 Gt (+/− 0.31), 26% of all mapped terrestrial woody C.

The ‘Paper Park Index’: Evaluating Marine Protected Area effectiveness through a global study of stakeholder perceptions

Governments around the world are increasingly committed to reaching terrestrial and marine conservation goals. But achieving such commitments is challenging, and conservation targets that are reached on paper, e.g., in terms of square kilometers protected, can be misleading. Designating Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) does not guarantee achieving marine conservation goals, and so-called ‘paper parks,’ i.e., MPAs that are legally designated but ineffective, are common.

Post-2020 biodiversity framework challenged by cropland expansion in protected areas

Protected areas (PAs) are essential for biodiversity conservation but are threatened by cropland expansion. Recent studies have only reported global cropland expansion in large PAs between 1990 and 2005. However, the amount of cropland expansion in global PAs (including relatively small PAs) since the 2000s is unclear. Using 30-m cropland maps, we find that the cropland expansion in PAs accelerated dramatically from 2000 to 2019, compared with that of global croplands.