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Progress and challenges in consolidating the management of Amazonian protected areas and indigenous territories

Gullison, Raymond E., Hardner, Jared
Conservation biology 2018 v.32 no.5 pp. 1020-1030
biodiversity, climate change, conservation areas, deforestation, developing countries, drying, forests, funding, governance, hydrology, land use, nongovernmental organizations, planning
Effective management refers to the ability of a protected area or indigenous territory to meet its objectives, particularly as they relate to the protection of biodiversity and forest cover. Effective management is achieved through a process of consolidation, which among other things requires legally protecting sites, integrating sites into land‐use planning, developing and implementing management and resource‐use plans, and securing long‐term funding to pay for recurrent costs. Effectively managing all protected areas and indigenous territories in the Amazon may be needed to avoid a deforestation tipping point beyond which regional climatic feedbacks and global climate change interact to catalyze irreversible drying and savannization of large areas. At present, protected areas and indigenous territories cover 45.5% (3.55 million km²) of the Amazon, most of the 60–70% forest cover required to maintain hydrologic and climatic function. Three independent evaluations of a long‐term large‐scale philanthropic initiative in the Amazon yielded insights into the challenges and advances toward achieving effective management of protected areas and indigenous territories. Over the life of the initiative, management of sites has improved considerably, particularly with respect to management planning and capacity building, but few sites are effectively managed and many lack sufficient long‐term financing, adequate governance, support of nongovernmental organizations, and the means to withstand economic pressures. The time and money required to complete consolidation is still poorly understood, but it is clear that philanthropic funding is critical so long as essential funding needs are not met by governments and other sources, which could be on the order of decades. Despite challenges, it is encouraging that legal protection has expanded greatly and management of sites is improving steadily. Management of protected areas in other developing countries could be informed by improvements that have occurred in Amazonian countries.