Two-Year Study for Protected Areas Completed

17 December 2015 | World Wildlife Fund UK News Release

A two-year study to develop a new ‘asset’ framework for Protected Areas (PAs) has been completed by the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and is published today.

The new framework is designed to help protected areas attract new investment, generate more value from new and existing investments, and better manage risks that could ‘strand’ PA assets, such as biodiversity, habitats, visitor facilities, park staff and volunteers, and local livelihoods.

In an era of increasing resource competition, there is a risk that PAs could be seen as being ‘in the way’ of human development. Some countries have already backtracked on international PA commitments, and protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) has recently emerged as a topic of concern. Budgets for PA management are also being cut. As a result, PAs are increasingly vulnerable. The future of PAs depends on their contribution to society being properly seen.

Ben Caldecott, a Programme Director at the University of Oxford’s Smith School said, “For protected areas to succeed they need to attract new public, philanthropic, and private investment. Existing budgets are insufficient, especially in the context of the new and emerging risks that face – from climate change through to infrastructure development. We have created a new framework to help protected area managers better allocate existing funding, as well as attract new funding.”

Protected areas form an important part of global conservation efforts and generate a host of important ‘values’ beyond species and habitat conservation, including economic (e.g. tourism, fisheries, ecosystem services), social (e.g. communities), cultural (e.g. identity), recreational (e.g. hiking, safari), political (e.g. institutions, international reputation), and option (e.g. land development, bio-prospecting) values.

Susanne Schmitt, WWF UK’s extractives manager said “WWF-UK welcome the publication of this timely new framework. It highlights the suite of different values – from biological, cultural, human to institutional values – which Protected Areas, such as natural World Heritage Sites, represent. Understanding the full suite of values is the first step towards mitigating risks faced by protected areas and can help in the identification of urgently needed investment for these special places. “

Caldecott added, “Societies have invested in protecting natural assets for centuries. Our new ‘asset’ framework will enable the assessment and mapping of different types of protected area assets, the forms of value they create, who captures value, and the risks that may ‘strand’ these assets. The framework also represents a heuristic tool that can help underpin the case for new investment in PAs.”

The project recommends that in order to assure the future of PAs in the future, three things need to happen simultaneously: i) we need to demonstrate the value generated by PAs in ways that are meaningful for citizens, politicians, and markets in a rapidly changing world; ii) we need to understand better the forms of value generated by PAs to enable enhanced risk management; and iii) we need to attract new investment into PAs from old and new funding sources. The study published today is the first completed as part of a new University of Oxford Project for Protected Area Resilience (PPAR). Each of these three areas is a focus of Oxford’s PPAR.



Ben Caldecott,, +44 7885 611 444.
Rebecca Pain,, WWF UK Business Media Relations Manager, 01483 412303 or 07974 212544

Representatives from Oxford University, WWF-UK, United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are available for comment if requested.


The report is attached for your convenience. On Thursday 17th December the study will be available here:

The project is supported by grants from WWF-UK, The Luc Hoffmann Institute, and The Woodchester Trust. The United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are collaborating research partners.

As of 2010, terrestrial protected areas covered 12.2% of the Earth’s land area and marine PAs covered 5.9% of the Earth’s territorial seas. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets aim for at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas to be designated as protected areas by 2020 and, partly in response to this international target, expansion is occurring. But this is not being matched by a scaling in resource availability.

The project is led by Ben Caldecott and Paul Jepson at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment.

The project advisory board includes: Justin Adams (Managing Director, Global Lands, TNC), André Abadie (Managing Director/Head of Global Environmental & Social Risk Management, J.P. Morgan), Professor Jonathan Baillie (Conservation Programmes Director, ZSL), Robin Bidwell (The Woodchester Trust), Glyn Davies (Director of Programmes, WWF-UK), Christian del Valle (Managing Partner, Althelia Ecosphere), Rupert Edwards (Senior Adviser, Forest Trends), Professor Marc Hockings (Head of Science, World Commission on Protected Areas, Program Director of Environmental Management, University of Queensland), Naomi Kingston (Head of Protected Area Programme, UNEP-WCMC), Kathy MacKinnon (World Commission on Protected Areas), Stephanie Maier (Head of Corporate Responsibility, Aviva Investors), Therese Niklasson (Head of ESG Research, Investec Asset Management), Sue Stolton (Director, Equilibrium Research), Joshua Tewksbury (former Director, Luc Hoffmann Institute), Francis Vorhies (Director, Earthmind), and Sir Graham Wynne (Special Adviser, The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit).

WWF is one of the world’s largest independent conservation organisations, with more than five million supporters and a global network active in more than one hundred countries. Through our engagement with the public, businesses and government, we focus on safeguarding the natural world, creating solutions to the most serious environmental issues facing our planet, so that people and nature thrive. Find out more about our work, past and present at

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