Terrestrial Areas

Summary Global Guidelines Technical and interactive resources

Target 3 applies to all natural terrestrial ecosystems, plus some long-established cultural ecosystems (created through human management) with important associated biodiversity.

How to protect terrestrial areas

Key steps towards Target 3 include:

    • Ensuring that a full range of ecosystems are represented. Concern about some ecosystems, such as tropical forests, can overshadow the important biodiversity and ecosystem service values of other ecosystems, such as native grasslands, woodlands, savannah and tundra.
    • Emphasizing a mosaic. Terrestrial protected areas need to be integrated both with conservation of inland waters and of coastal and marine systems, and with ecological corridors and sustainable management in the rest of the landscape.
    • Choosing the optimal management. Many protected areas, and even more Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs), support a variety of uses, but these sites are not sustainable use areas. Navigating what is and is not compatible with conservation is a key challenge in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and at the site-level where monitoring and adaptive management will need to be employed to ensure management is effective.

Many of these points are applicable to marine and inland waters as well.



Enabling factors and challenges

Pressures on terrestrial ecosystems are huge and increasing. Intensive agriculture is the largest driver of ecosystem loss and creates threats from fertilizer and pesticide pollution. Human population changes can threaten traditional, biodiversity-friendly management. Success therefore depends on wider social and technical changes including restoration, dietary change, the future of pastoralism, rural migration and climate change.

Area-based conservation needs to plan for future development and seek to shape how this evolves. Some countries could find it hard to establish large new terrestrial protected areas. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) requires OECMs to conserve significant biodiversity and obtain rightsholders’ consent, but there are fears OECMs will be recognized in places of little conservation value and will harm human rights.

This element of Target 3 interacts with many other GBF targets including particularly Target 7 on pollution reduction, Target 10 on sustainability of agriculture and Target 16 on consumption.

Protected Area Governance and Management


Protected Area Governance and Management presents a compendium of original text, case studies and examples from across the world, by drawing on the literature, and on the knowledge and experience of those involved in protected areas. The book synthesises current knowledge and cutting-edge thinking from the diverse branches of practice and learning relevant to protected area governance and management. It is intended as an investment in the skills and competencies of people and consequently, the effective governance and management of protected areas for which they are responsible, now and into the future. The global success of the protected area concept lies in its shared vision to protect natural and cultural heritage for the long term, and organisations such as International Union for Conservation of Nature are a unifying force in this regard. Nonetheless, protected areas are a socio-political phenomenon and the ways that nations understand, govern and manage them is always open to contest and debate. The book aims to enlighten, educate and above all to challenge readers to think deeply about protected areas—their future and their past, as well as their present. The book has been compiled by 169 authors and deals with all aspects of protected area governance and management. It provides information to support capacity development training of protected area field officers, managers in charge and executive level managers.

The IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology is the first-ever comprehensive classification framework for classifying and mapping all Earth’s ecosystems, which integrates their functional and compositional features.
Terrestrial Realm Global Ecosystem Typology


The World Terrestrial Ecosystems map classifies the world into areas of similar climate, landform, and land cover, which form the basic components of any terrestrial ecosystem structure.
Map of World Ecosystem Services

IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is a global standard for assessing risks to ecosystems. It allows us to identify common symptoms (both spatial and functional) to understand the level of risk that an ecosystem is facing.
Red List of Ecosystems



Long-term loss in extent and current protection of terrestrial ecosystem diversity in the temperate and tropical Americas.
Paper link