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Journal for Nature Conservation
Volume 62, 2021, 126019

Potential contribution of OECMs to international area-based conservation targets in a biodiversity rich country, Spain

D.Rodríguez-Rodrígueza,b, A. Sánchez-Espinosab, D. Abdul Malakb

Department of Geography, University of Malaga, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Campus Universitario de Teatinos, s/n, 29071, Malaga, Spain.

Abstract

Other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) are new conservation tools intended to complement protected areas (PAs) at achieving effective biodiversity conservation and meeting international area-based targets. However, OECMs have been rarely considered in practical terms until recently. Here, we performed a rapid evaluation on the degree of fulfilment of current area-based international biodiversity targets, post-2020 foreseeable oncoming targets, and ecological targets by considering: 1) Protection coverage; 2) Inclusiveness of important areas for biodiversity; 3) Protection management; 4) Connectivity; and 5) Habitat representation, on land and at sea in Spain, a Euro-Mediterranean, biodiversity rich country. We conducted the evaluation under two scenarios: 1) Scenario 1 considers designated PAs; and 2) Scenario 2, that also includes potential OECMs. In order to generate Scenario 2, thirteen legal categories were assessed against international guidance on OECMs as a first step to screen their likelihood of providing OECMs in Spain. Our findings show that some potentially satisfactory OECM categories such as Public Utility Forests, River Reserves or Geoparks meet the OECM criteria to a large degree and deserve further study. Our results also highlight that Spain is currently well above most foreseeable post-2020 biodiversity targets and even close to some ecological targets using just PAs, except for marine protected area (MPA) management and MPA offshore coverage. Adding OECMs would noticeably improve the country’s figures yet without reaching many exigent ecological targets. OECMs can become a useful, cost-effective biodiversity conservation tool that contributes to international targets under new, more ambitious area-based conservation requirements in Spain and elsewhere. Nevertheless, for this to happen, suitable biodiversity management and monitoring schemes must be ensured.

Keywords: Protected area, Other effective area-based conservation measure, Aichi target, Post-2020 target, Global biodiversity framework.

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