A couple years back Michael Mascia and Sharon Pailler published an interesting paper where they reviewed how protected area downgrading (=decrease in legal protection), downsizing (=decrease in area) and degazettement (=loss of entire PA) – or PADDD as they call it – has taken place around the world. I really enjoyed reading this paper and think that it was a great opening on a very important topic. We’ve all heard news about relaxing protected area regulations to allow, for example, mining activities within protected sites. But it’s important to keep in mind that PADDD actions are not always negative as they can help us to solve complex social issues that are critical to the effectiveness of the protected areas (such as re-establishing the rights of indigenous people on their land). Right after this paper came out we discussed it in the journal club of my old lab. Afterwards I wrote a short summary on the points that rose from our discussion, in case you are interested to see what our first thoughts about the work were.
Now the work of Mascia and Pailler has taken a step forward as they recently launched a web tool that tracks where PADDD actions take place in the world (and here’s a link to a news piece about the launching). This is a great continuation to their paper, which more or less concluded that with the current available data there are no ways of quantifying the global magnitude and impacts of PADDD actions.
Hopefully this tool will get the critical mass behind it and eventually help us to understand how to make protected areas persistent and effective. In the meanwhile it will no doubly help us to grasp the global size of the phenomena, by simply putting dots on a map and pointing out that PADDD actions are not just singular cases – they are happening on all continents and the pace of both proposed and successful PADDD actions is increasing.
Nice work guys!