Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (10): 1177-1188.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2016162

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evaluating conservation effectiveness of protected areas: advances and new perspectives

Wei Wang, Lijuan Xin, Jinhong Du, Bing Chen, Fangzheng Liu, Libo Zhang, Junsheng Li*()   

  1. Biodiversity Research Center, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Beijing 100012
  • Received:2016-06-20 Accepted:2016-10-09 Online:2016-10-20 Published:2016-11-10
  • Contact: Li Junsheng


Conservation effectiveness of protected areas indicates the status of main protected objects, and achievements in maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem function. Evaluation of conservation effectiveness is becoming a popular issue surrounding protected areas. From multiple spatial scales, subjects, methods and indicators, we reviewed advances in evaluating conservation effectiveness of protected areas. Recent studies have represented global, regional, national, and individual scales. Evaluated projects include the most common ecosystems (forests, wetlands, grasslands, deserts) and wild species. Evaluation methods have been moving from traditional direct before-and-after or inside-outside comparisons to “matching” techniques, which allows one to control for known landscape or environmental biases when determining the impacts of protection. Some researchers have explored indicator systems to make systematic evaluations of the effectiveness of protected areas, meanwhile others have tested indicators using case studies. In China, nature reserve is the backbone of the country’s protected areas system. Different ministries and state-level authorities have initiated evaluation of conservation effectiveness of nature reserves. We suggest that future studies should explore the following issues to improve the quality of nature reserves: (1) conservation effectiveness of nature reserve networks; (2) conservation effectiveness of different types of reserves; (3) integration of conservation effectiveness and management evaluation; and (4) potential impacts on nature reserves.

Key words: protected areas, nature reserve, national park, conservation effectiveness, biodiversity, main protected objects