The ecological effectiveness of protected areas: The United Kingdom
Given the importance placed on protected areas, determining their effectiveness in representing and maintaining biodiversity is a core issue in conservation biology. Nonetheless, frameworks identifying the breadth of issues associated with this effectiveness, and case studies of how well these are understood in particular regions, remain lacking. In this paper, we provide such a framework and an overview of the current state of knowledge of the ecological effectiveness of protected areas in the United Kingdom. Arguably, better data are available to address such issues in this region than anywhere else in the world. Nonetheless, studies remain scarce and have focussed foremost on the, rather narrow, issue of the effectiveness of management actions on individual sites in order to deliver fixed conservation objectives and discharge statutory responsibilities. Some attention has also been paid to how well the regional collection or portfolio of protected areas performs, particularly in capturing biodiversity features. Work on the extent to which protected areas in the United Kingdom form effective functional networks is in its infancy, but initiatives are under development. We identify some of the questions about the effectiveness of protected areas to which answers need to be known at the site, portfolio and network levels, and how significant progress might be achieved in addressing these.
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