Biodiversity Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (6): 802-814.doi: 10.17520/biods.2015099

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

Analysis of change in the distances between global terrestrial protected areas and urban areas

Bian Fan, Keming Ma*()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085
  • Received:2015-04-21 Accepted:2015-05-30 Online:2015-12-02
  • Ma Keming

With the expansion of urban areas and protected areas (PAs), the distance between them is strongly declining. However, this phenomenon hasn’t garnered much attention. The negative influences of urban areas on PAs have scaling effects, and with this distance decreasing, those negative influences may compound, therefore the distance between PAs and urban areas could be an important reference for measuring these negative influences. Based on spatial data of PAs, cities and urban areas, our study analyzed the changes in distance from PAs to urban areas between 1950 to 2010 at global, continental, regional and national scale. The results showed that: (1) at these four scales, the distance between PAs to urban areas were all declining. Europe (Western Europe) was the continent (region), which had the closest proximity of PAs and urban areas. On the contrary, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) was the continent (region), which had the farthest proximity of these areas. Among the top 20 PAs countries, China had the nearest proximity, as the mean distance from PAs to cities with more than 50 thousand people was merely 143.5 km. (2) According to the current situation and changes in the distances between PAs and urban areas, the top 60 PAs countries can be divided into 5 categories: (a) the proximity was very near and the speed of changes was slow, such as Western European countries; (b) the proximity was near and the speed was moderate, such as China and America; (c) the proximity was relatively near and the speed was rapid, such as Saudi Arabia and Ecuador; (d) the proximity was relatively distant and the speed was relatively slow, such as Brazil, Canada and Russia; (e) the proximity was distant and the speed was relatively rapid, such as Australia and most African countries. (3) On a global scale, more and more PAs with high biodiversity are influenced by urbanization. This study may draw attention and awareness to the changing proximity between PAs and urban areas.

Key words: terrestrial protected areas, urban area, nearest distance, buffer area, multiple scale, priority ecoregion

Fig. 1

The change of nearest distances from PAs to cities between 1950 and 2010 (city population size: no less than 750 thousand)"

Fig. 2

The change of distances from PAs to cities at global and continental scale. (a) The change in mean of nearest distance from PAs to cities; (b) The change of PAs percentage in buffer areas of urban areas."

Table 1

The distance from PAs to cities within regions in 2010"

Mean nearest distance a (km)
PAs percentage within buffer areas b (%)
50 75 100 10 30 50
西欧 Western Europe 114.79 114.79 122.85 22.38 58.87 82.56
西亚 Western Asia 134.85 136.26 145.98 0.68 2.81 5.90
东亚 Eastern Asia 136.92 137.72 146.36 1.21 4.24 7.76
中美洲 Central America 140.57 140.59 163.83 2.48 9.85 17.68
西非 Western Africa 161.45 166.82 196.66 0.35 2.79 7.43
南亚 Southern Asia 178.05 178.81 217.17 1.62 8.99 20.60
南欧 Southern Europe 185.17 185.17 234.10 6.46 28.05 51.10
东欧 Eastern Europe 228.16 229.53 249.31 1.93 9.53 18.18
北欧 Northern Europe 238.18 238.18 264.41 5.04 18.76 31.66
北非 Northern Africa 244.75 244.75 356.22 1.11 4.75 9.33
南非 Southern Africa 251.56 251.56 252.62 0.77 3.72 8.64
北美洲 Northern America 249.17 266.95 289.48 1.32 6.13 12.07
东非 Eastern Africa 260.88 288.23 304.73 0.16 1.11 3.22
南美洲 Southern America 308.28 308.91 351.48 0.65 2.48 4.95
中非 Central Africa 322.46 322.57 383.72 0.19 1.11 2.66
中亚 Central Asia 323.14 323.14 333.57 1.08 5.73 13.80
东南亚 Southeastern Asia 303.14 330.29 406.65 1.18 6.18 12.83
加勒比海区 Caribbean 338.50 338.50 388.99 4.65 12.68 31.09
澳大利亚和新西兰 Australia and New Zealand 492.04 492.04 493.20 0.49 2.42 5.56
太平洋三大岛群 Pacific islands 2,812.72 2,812.72 3,198.28 0.18 0.40 0.48

Fig. 3

The change in distribution of distances from PAs to cities within countries. (a) The change in distribution of mean in nearest distances from PAs to cities; (b) The change in distribution of PAs percentage in buffer areas of urban areas."

Fig. 4

Hot spots of PAs closed to cities and located in priority ecoregions. (a) The vegetation hot spots. (b) The regional hot spots."

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