|Developing a protection level index for protected areas|
Bienfait, L. (2019). Developing a protection level index for protected areas. Thesis. NIOZ Royal Institute for Sea Research: Yerseke. 47 pp.
The importance of the existence of Protected Areas (PAs) is growing as pressures on the earth’s ecosystems are increasing. PAs play a key role in the conservation of natural functions and processes, delivering ecosystem services and maintaining species and habitat diversity and they are essential to be able to reach the conservation goals that have been set internationally. Systems to categorise the protection level of PAs exist, but they have their limitations. The current system is mainly based on administrative management objectives rather than the true level of protection of a PA. This report suggests an alternative approach to measure the level of protection of PAs, at the level of PA managers and ensuring the method is quick, easy and cheap. Results from a case study with several European PAs suggest that this is a feasible method. The method of the Protection Level Index and future improvements are discussed in this report.