World Database on Protected Areas


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

This assessment covers almost all countries

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is a joint project of UNEP and IUCN, produced by UNEP-WCMC and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). The overall goal for the World Database on Protected Areas is to provide the most comprehensive and authoritative global dataset on national parks and protected areas that answers key questions about sustainable development informing decision makers and policy makers.

Mandate for the assessment

The WDPA includes the “UN List of Protected Areas” mandated by the UN Economic and Social Council (res. 713 XXVII 1959) to be compiled from officially delegated national authorities on protected areas. In addition to the UN List mandate, the WDPA is specifically mentioned in many decisions and recommendations of the CBD and IUCN, and also serves to fulfil an even longer list of mandates on protected areas, ecosystem services and biodiversity protection as the recognized authoritative source of comprehensive information on the global protected areas network. To know more about the WDPA purpose:

This is one of the six priority IUCN Knowledge Products as identified in the 2013-2016 IUCN Programme which was adopted by IUCN members in the 2012 World Conservation Congress, and is available here:

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Since 1981 UNEP-WCMC, through its Protected Areas Programme, has been compiling this information and making it available to the global community. The WDPA is a joint project of UNEP and IUCN, produced by UNEP-WCMC and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas working with governments and collaborating NGOs.

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

To know more about the WDPA content visit:

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Polar
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed



Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

The World Database on Protected Areas is regularly updated.

Assessment outputs


The Protected Planet Report 2012 reviews progress towards the achievement of the protected area targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Building on the work of the CBD-mandated Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (BIP), the report includes a set of indicators of protected area coverage, representativeness, effectiveness, management and governance.

Protected Planet report produced by UNEP-WCMC in cooperation with IUCN and other partners, is available here:

Protected Planet wesbite is the public face of the WDPA:


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Key stakeholder groups engaged

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Data are accesible for non comercial use through the protected planet website:

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The World Database on Protected Areas is a foundation dataset for conservation decision making. It contains crucial information from national governments, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, international biodiversity convention secretariats and many others. It is used for ecological gap analysis, environmental impact analysis and is increasingly used for private sector decision-making.

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is used to calculate the protected area coverage indicator which is one of the formally agreed indicators to monitor progress towards CDB's Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. Protected area coverage is not only a global indicator but can also be calculated for regions and nations provided that there are sufficient data available. Coverage of protected areas is for example used by the European Environment Agency as an indicator to track progress towards the European 2010 biodiversity target in European countries.

For more information see:

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information