Challenging common myths in protected area management

Authors Woodhouse, E.; Bedelian, C.
Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Policy and Practice Brief


Protected areas remain a cornerstone of efforts to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems globally. They are rapidly increasing in size and number. Aichi biodiversity target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity calls for 17% of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of coastal and marine areas to be protected by 2020.

​Key messages of this policy brief are:

  • It is a widely held myth that the integrity of protected areas is threatened by poor people in the local area. The evidence does not support this assumption.
  • Protected area managers should recognise that conservation activities can affect many aspects of local people’s wellbeing, including non-material aspects.
  • Compensation is rarely sufficient to offset the negative impacts that local people may suffer when their access to and use of natural resources is restricted. There should be a shift from one-off compensation to ongoing and adaptive engagement with affected communities.
  • Governance of protected areas must be more equitable, allowing for full and effective participation by and partnership between protected area managers and local communities.
  • Tenure rights can play a vital role in securing local people’s rights and incentives to conserve the environment but must be approached sensitively, to ensure that formal tenure processes do not marginalise poor people further.




​Image: Mursi tribe, Ethiopia, credit R. Waddington