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The nature and extent of terrestrial protected area coverage on the UK's Overseas Territories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2017

RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, 2 Lochside View, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh, EH12 9DH, UK
International Directorate, RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK
RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, David Attenborough Building (CCI), Pembroke St, Cambridge, CB2 3QY, UK
RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, RSPB, 2 Lochside View, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh, EH12 9DH, UK
*Correspondence: Nicholas I. Wilkinson e-mail:


Signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to the effective protection of at least 17% of the terrestrial environment by 2020 (Aichi Target 11). Here, we assess the coverage of terrestrial protected areas (land protected by legislation) on the UK's Overseas Territories. These 14 Territories are under the sovereignty of the UK, a signatory of the CBD, and are particularly biodiverse. Eight Territories have protected areas covering 17% or more of their land, but the extent of protection across these Territories as a whole is low, with only 4.8% of this land designated as protected. This protection covered 51% of sites already identified as of conservation importance (Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas), although only 8% of the area of these sites was protected. The expansion of effective protection to meet the 17% target provides an opportunity to capture the most important sites for conservation. Locally led designation will require an improvement in knowledge of the distribution and density of species. This, together with measures to ensure that the protection is enforced and effective, will require provision of resources. This should be seen as an investment in the UK meeting its obligations to Aichi Target 11.

Copyright © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2017 

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