How should we assess protected area effectiveness? Presenting an outcome-oriented, social-ecological framework.


Biodiversity is threatened across the world, and stopping this loss is likely the biggest challenge humanity faces today. Protected areas are used to manage and improve biodiversity but assessing their effectiveness is complex, especially when goals for protected areas become more diverse. Now differing ecological, economic, cultural, and development goals of protected areas have resulted in various indicators and methods for evaluation of effectiveness but multifaceted assessments are yet lacking. Therefore, in a recent paper published in BioScience journal, Ghoddousi et al. (2021) argued that a more holistic and clearer definition of protected area effectiveness is needed, that includes multiple protected area outcomes. The authors created a conceptual framework that is outcome-oriented, multidimensional, and grounded in social-ecological theory.

Protected areas were initially created to maintain ‘wilderness’ and limit extraction, however more and more multiple-use landscapes are promoted as protected areas worldwide to foster sustainable use of natural resources. Therefore, the…

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