The Target 3 text on sustainable use stresses that any uses must not undermine the fundamental conservation objectives and gives extra impetus to look critically at the ways in which protected and conserved areas (PCAs) are used. Target 3 includes wording on sustainable use to recognize that many protected areas permit a range of uses, and stresses that “any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes.” Target 3 does not specify what is covered by the term “sustainable use” in the context of PCAs, but this is usually defined as both non-extractive uses such as ecotourism, exercise and visiting sacred sites, and sometimes also extractive uses such as collection of medicinal herbs and fodder, catching fish, etc. The intent might better be described as ensuring any permitted uses, extractive or non-extractive, are sustainable, i.e., not damaging to biodiversity or ecosystem services. Agreement on management intent, including uses, ideally takes place when planning the PCA and will often be a compromise between the needs of people living in or near the area and wider conservation considerations. This will in turn influence the IUCN protected area management category, with for example, category Ib wilderness areas often including use by traditional communities, category V managed around long-standing cultural landscapes and category VI including natural areas with low-impact sustainable extraction of natural products, such as rubber. Some formerly strictly protected areas are opening to sustainable use, whereupon policies and rules will need revision. In general, there is now an expectation that protected areas and OECMs should not result in undue infringements on customary sustainable use, particularly by Indigenous peoples and local communities, if this is compatible with biodiversity conservation objectives. In all cases, as noted above, Target 3 implementation must uphold the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Articles 8(j) and 10(c), and related provisions and guidance, including regarding customary sustainable use.
Enabling factors and challenges
If properly negotiated, planned and managed, sustainable use agreements can limit uses to local people who have a stake in ensuring sustainability. If not managed well, non-extractive uses, such as tourism, can be as destructive as many extractive uses. Problems are likely if there is competition for resources (e.g., high value medicinal plants) or if desire for revenues drives up tourism to unsustainable levels or in cases such as marine protected areas allowing large-scale commercial fishing.