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Identification of Global Priorities for New Mountain Protected and Conserved Areas

January 1, 2021

Mountain ecosystems are extremely diverse and fragile. They include astonishing biodiversity in terms of number of taxa and endemicity, and globally provide the most diverse range of ecosystem services.

The world’s system of protected and conserved areas includes many outstanding areas within the earth’s mountainous landscape: about 19% of mountain areas are protected or conserved, globally. Furthermore, approximately 90% of the most-strongly-protected conservation estate occurs in mountains. Nevertheless, significant mountain areas are not adequately protected, and many mountain ranges are completely unprotected. Of over 6000 Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in mountains worldwide, 40.4% are entirely unprotected.

As the world conservation movement advocates to expand the global coverage of terrestrial protected areas over the next decade toward 30%, identifying priorities for new mountain protected and conserved areas will be most efficacious if it takes a strategic approach to ensure areas of highest value and most in need of protection are identified.

This paper introduces an iterative six-step decision support tool for identifying and prioritizing candidate areas for conserving inadequately protected mountain ecosystems, species, and habitats. The tool begins with quantitative analyses of the adequacy of protection of mountain KBAs, world terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity hotspots, and red-listed species. It then guides regional teams through qualitative assessments of other values to develop lists of priority areas to give heightened consideration for protection or conservation.

The tool is framed on the notion that any of the more than 6000 mountain KBAs can be allocated into one of nine categories: four that identify inadequately protected areas prioritised for heightened consideration, two for which no further action is required unless circumstances change, and three not requiring further action due to being deemed adequately protected.

Publication Year 2021
Title Identification of Global Priorities for New Mountain Protected and Conserved Areas
Authors Peter Jacobs, Erik A. Beever, Clinton Carbutt, Marc Foggin, Diego Juffe-Bignoli, Madeline Thomas Martin, Shane Orchard, Roger Sayre
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title Final Report
Index ID 70217649
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center; Land Change Science