By Sharon Atieno

Biodiversity loss is continuing and accelerating despite increase in conserved and protected areas in line with Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Kaori Yasuda, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-Rwanda Country Representative, said during the inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) in Kigali, Rwanda.

Approximately 25% of species are already threatened with extinction, the global biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82% and natural ecosystems have declined by 47% on average, relative to their earliest estimated states, according to a 2019 IPBES report.

“This is because some of the conserved and protected areas are not contributing to the conservation outcomes because they are not effectively covered and managed,” Yasuda said, noting that the IUCN’s Green list is the solution.

The Green list, officially adopted in 2014, is a standard that was developed to recognize and globally increase the number of protected areas that are fairly governed, effectively managed and achieving the conservation outcomes, which includes increasing biodiversity.

It has four main components which includes good governance, sound design and planning, effective management and successful conservation outcomes.

Under good governance, there are three main criteria. The first one includes guaranteeing legitimacy and voice.

Under this criteria, there are clearly defined, legitimate, equitable and functional governance arrangements in which the interests of every stakeholder are fairly represented and addressed including those related to the establishment or designation of the site.

The other criterion looks at whether governance arrangements and decision-making processes are transparent and appropriately communicated and responsibilities for implementation are clear or not.

The third criterion puts into consideration the planning and management whether it draws on the best available knowledge of the social and ecological site, using an adaptive management framework that anticipates, learns from and responds to change in its decision-making.

Under the component of sound design and planning, there are four criteria which examine the long-term conservation goals and objectives based on a sound understanding of the site’s natural, cultural and socio-economic values and context.

In the component of effective management, there are several criteria. Under this, the site should have a long term management strategy, clearly demonstrate ecological attributes and processes are being managed to maintain the site’s major natural values as well as showing that threats are being actively and effectively responded to.

Additionally, this component includes clear demonstration of management of the site within social and economic context, effective and fair enforcement of laws and regulations in all aspects of the protected area, management of access, resource use and visitation within the area as well as monitoring and assessment programmes to measure success.

In the last component, the site should demonstrate successful long-term conservation of major natural values, and associated cultural and ecosystem service values; as well as the achievement of social and economic goals and objectives.

For the conserved and protected areas to be included in the list, it goes through three steps which include the application, candidate and Green list phases with the process taking six months to two years. Once green listed and certified, the certification lasts five years before being re-assessed.

“We hope that the Green list will work as an effective tool for scaling up and scaling out effective, conserved and protected areas linking to biodiversity and conservation outcomes,” she said.