The interregional Barents Protected Area Network (BPAN) has published a new report evaluating the current state of protected area network in the Barents region. The report covers the thirteen regions included in the Barents Cooperation, from Russian Komi Republic in the east to Norwegian Nordland in the west, and is unique in that it provides the first harmonised account of the representativeness of the protected areas.
Anna Kuhmonen, from the Finnish Environment Institute, is project manager for the BPAN and claims that the report will be an important tool for improving the connectivity between the protected areas in the region.
“The results of the report provide knowledge for experts and decision-makers that can be taken into account in conservation planning and it makes it possible for national or regional planners to consider the situation across the border”, says Kuhmonen.
In the face of climate change, connectivity between the protected areas becomes increasingly important as it improves the ability of species to adapt to the new climate. Moreover, the protection of carbon sinks such as forests and wetlands, which have a significant mitigating effect, is central to ability to slow down global warming.
“Many important nature areas are already known and many of these are also planned as protected areas”, Kuhmonen says. “But the establishment of protected areas takes a long time and, with the current speed and resources, the target to conserve 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas by 2020 will not be met.”