Protected Areas

IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme and

IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas

Delivering the Promise of Sydney


How we engage

Protected and conserved areas are the foundation of biodiversity conservation. They safeguard nature and cultural resources, improve livelihoods and drive sustainable development. 

IUCN works to establish best practices and standards that maximise the effectiveness of protected and conserved areas and advances justice and equity in conservation, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. 

In its work on protected areas and conserved areas, IUCN focusses on three key areas:

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  • In the spotlight:

    The IUCN Green List

    The IUCN Green List now counts 15 new sites, bringing the total number of sites listed to 40. The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas is the first global standard of best practice in area-based conservation. It certifies natural sites that are effectively managed and fairly governed.

  • In the spotlight:


    The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme aims to improve  the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities.

  • In the spotlight:

    PANORAMA - Solutions for a Healthy Planet


    Explore applied protected area solutions from around the globe!

    PANORAMA is a partnership promoting examples of inspiring, replicable solutions across a range of conservation and development topics, to enable cross-sectoral learning and upscaling of successes. Read more about IUCN's engagement in PANORAMA.  

  • In the spotlight:

    MOOCs and protected areas capacity building

    Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are now an undeniable part of the education landscape and a revolutionary opportunity for everyone across the world with an Internet connection to access free courses and to receive a certificate or academic credits. The IUCN Papaco MOOCs on 'protected areas management' and 'ecological monitoring' have cumulated a number of 12,700 registrations so far from more than 120 countries. Two more MOOCS have just started, on 'law enforcement in protected areas', and 'species conservation' in African protected areas. Read more about the origins, the participants, and success rates of IUCN Papaco's MOOCs to date.


  • Zanzibar Photo: Sara Giovannini

    BIOPAMA: call for experts for the Regional Advisory Committees


    IUCN seeks applications from qualified individuals to serve on the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) established to provide analysis and recommendations on the selection of grantees for the BIOPAMA action component.

  • Convocatoria Lista Expertos Lista verde España Convocatoria Lista Expertos Lista verde España Photo: IUCN-Med

    Abierta la convocatoria para la selección expertos evaluadores de la Lista Verde en España


    El Centro de Cooperación del Mediterráneo de la UICN (UICN-Med) junto con la Comisión Mundial para las Áreas Protegidas (WCPA en sus siglas en inglés) de la UICN ha abierto la convocatoria para seleccionar los candidatos del grupo de expertos de evaluadores...

  • Festuca festuca is a magnificent grass species, highly prized for its robustness and traditionally indispensable to build roofs capable of withstanding the harsh weather of the Ethiopian highlands Festuca festuca is a magnificent grass species, highly prized for its robustness and traditionally indispensable to build roofs capable of withstanding the harsh weather of the Ethiopian highlands.  Photo: Grazia Borini Feyerabend

    Dynamic governance model in Ethiopia's Central Highlands


    The Guassa area in Central Highlands of Ethiopia is an excellent example of a dynamic “indigenous community conserved area” (ICCA). IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme participated in the first regional meeting of the ICCA Consortium in Africa, held...

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Protected area solutions

Protected areas offer vital solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges, including climate change, species extinction and poverty. Recognising this, IUCN has defined 'Solutions' as one of the core business lines for its global work on protected areas....

Protected Area Categories

IUCN protected area management categories classify protected areas according to their management objectives. The categories are recognised by international bodies such as the United Nations and by many national governments as the global standard for defining and recording protected areas...

Capacity development

Capacity development touches upon all aspects of IUCN's Global Protected Areas Programme. Below you will find links to the BIOPAMA page, the massive open online courses (MOOC) that the Programme on African Protected Areas and Conservation (PAPACO) organises, and the PA Law course, as...

World Database on Protected Areas

The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) is the most comprehensive global database on terrestrial and marine protected areas. It is a joint project between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), managed by UNEP...

Quick reads

Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

Thumbnail_Oceans MPA issues brief Photo: IUCN

Marine protected areas and climate change

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – areas of the ocean set aside for long-term conservation aims – are the only mainstream conservation-focussed, area-based measure to increase the quality and extent of...

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