Biodiv Sci ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (6): 802-814.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2015099

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

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:2015-11-20 Published:2015-12-02
  • Contact: 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