Gaps and opportunities for the World Heritage Convention to contribute to global wilderness conservation

Allan, James R., Kormos, Cyril, Jaeger, Tilman, Venter, Oscar, Bertzky, Bastian, Shi, Yichuan, Mackey, Brendan, van Merm, Remco, Osipova, Elena and Watson, James E.M. (2017) Gaps and opportunities for the World Heritage Convention to contribute to global wilderness conservation. Conservation Biology, 32 1: 116-126. doi:10.1111/cobi.12976

Author Allan, James R.
Kormos, Cyril
Jaeger, Tilman
Venter, Oscar
Bertzky, Bastian
Shi, Yichuan
Mackey, Brendan
van Merm, Remco
Osipova, Elena
Watson, James E.M.
Title Gaps and opportunities for the World Heritage Convention to contribute to global wilderness conservation
Journal name Conservation Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1523-1739
Publication date 2017-12-06
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/cobi.12976
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 32
Issue 1
Start page 116
End page 126
Total pages 11
Place of publication Malden, United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
2303 Ecology
2309 Nature and Landscape Conservation
Abstract Wilderness areas are ecologically intact landscapes predominantly free of human uses, especially industrial-scale activities that result in substantial biophysical disturbance. This definition does not exclude land and resource use by local communities who depend on such areas for subsistence and bio-cultural connections. Wilderness areas are important for biodiversity conservation and sustain key ecological processes and ecosystem services that underpin planetary life-support systems. Despite these widely recognized benefits and values of wilderness, they are insufficiently protected and are consequently being rapidly eroded. There are increasing calls for multilateral environmental agreements to make a greater and more systematic contribution to wilderness conservation before it is too late. We created a global map of remaining terrestrial wilderness following the established last-of-the-wild method, which identifies the 10% of areas with the lowest human pressure within each of Earth's 62 biogeographic realms and identifies the 10 largest contiguous areas and all contiguous areas >10,000 km. We used our map to assess wilderness coverage by the World Heritage Convention and to identify gaps in coverage. We then identified large nationally designated protected areas with good wilderness coverage within these gaps. One-quarter of natural and mixed (i.e., sites of both natural and cultural value) World Heritage Sites (WHS) contained wilderness (total of 545,307 km), which is approximately 1.8% of the world's wilderness extent. Many WHS had excellent wilderness coverage, for example, the Okavango Delta in Botswana (11,914 km) and the Central Suriname Nature Reserve (16,029 km). However, 22 (35%) of the world's terrestrial biorealms had no wilderness representation within WHS. We identified 840 protected areas of >500 km that were predominantly wilderness (>50% of their area) and represented 18 of the 22 missing biorealms. These areas offer a starting point for assessing the potential for the designation of new WHSs that could help increase wilderness representation on the World Heritage list. We urge the World Heritage Convention to ensure that the ecological integrity and outstanding universal value of existing WHS with wilderness values are preserved.
Keyword Biodiversity conservation
Community conservation
Conservación comunitaria
Conservación de la biodiversidad
Ecological integrity
Ecosystem services
Hábitat intacto
Intact habitat
Integridad ecológica
Natural World Heritage
Patrimonio Mundial Natural
Protected areas
Servicios ambientales
Áreas protegidas
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
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Created: Sun, 24 Dec 2017, 09:16:43 EST