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Key documents
Urban Protected Areas Profiles and best practice guidelines

Urban Protected Areas

Profiles and Best Practice Guidelines

By Ted Trzyna, in collaboration with Joseph T. Edmiston, Glen Hyman, Jeffrey A. McNeely, Pedro da Cunha e Menezes, Brett Myrdal, Adrian Phillips, and other members of the IUCN WCPA Urban Specialist Group. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 2014. 124 pages, illustrated. Limited print edition. Read and download at www.iucn-urban.org

“Their importance cannot be overstated.”

Urban protected areas—nature reserves situated in or at the edge of larger population centers —“are at the heart of the struggle to create more sustainable prospects for both nature and people,” according to this new book from IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “Their importance cannot be overstated.”

Urban protected areas “have a crucial role that sets them apart from other protected areas. They provide opportunities for large numbers of urban people to experience nature, including many people who may not be able to visit more remote protected areas.”

This is important for two reasons. One is now well known: Regular contact with nature is good for people. Aside from the benefits of outdoor exercise, spending time in nature improves physical and mental health.

The other reason may be less obvious: Urban people are crucial for nature conservation globally. Conservation depends on support from urban voters, urban donors, and urban communicators. Yet people living in cities tend to have less and less contact with nature. As the author puts it: “The wildest and remotest places on Earth, the most imperiled species on Earth, the chain of life sustaining human life on Earth will be protected only if urban people care about nature.”

The book profiles urban protected areas in fifteen metropolitan areas around the world and gives guidance on such topics as engendering a local sense of ownership, engaging with diverse ethnic groups, and breaking down cultural barriers between the “natural” and the “urban”; coping with such challenges as encroachment, crime, invasive species, human-wildlife conflict, zoonotic diseases, wildfires, noise, and artificial nighttime light; and making urban protected areas national and global priorities.

An initiative of the Urban Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, www.iucn-urban.org, whose secretariat is provided by InterEnvironment Institute, www.InterEnvironment.org.