IUCN PARKS Journal Special Issue on the impact and implications of COVID-19 on the world’s protected and conserved areas

by Julia Rawlins

The latest issue of the PARKS Journal published in March 2021 focuses on the impact and implications of the pandemic on the world’s protected and conserved areas. It provides cutting-edge insights and raises key questions on three themes: 1) the background to the pandemic, 2) the impact on PCAs and livelihood,  3) how we recover from the damage to nature and avoid further catastrophes. 
In 11 peer-reviewed papers and 14 essays, it brings together knowledge and research from experts around the world and concludes with an urgent call to action regarding our fractured relationship to nature. Of particular relevance to LT&C members may be the essays entitled: 

Impacts of COVID-19 on protected and conserved areas: a global overview and regional perspectives

Marine protected and conserved areas in the time of COVID

Tourism in protected and conserved areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The overarching messages are summarised in the editors’ postscript as follows:

  • set against the billions of dollars that has been spent on dealing with the consequences of the pandemic, and the trillions more that will be spent to get economies moving again, the cost of securing the natural world through an effective system of protected and conserved areas is but a small fraction of that expenditure;
  • if the same amount of effort that has been put — with magnificent success and in record time — into the development of vaccines to combat the disease, were to be applied to dealing with the root causes of zoonotic pandemics, we could drastically reduce the threat of future events of this kind; and
  • if the shock of COVID-19 is not enough to make humanity wake up to the suicidal consequences of the destructive course of much misguided development, then it is hard to see how further calamities — far worse than the current pandemic — can be avoided. 

During the coming year, governments and others will be gathering in a series of international meetings to decide how to stabilise our climate, save biodiversity, secure human health and revive the global economy. Through all these events should run this golden thread: learn the lessons of COVID-19 by protecting nature and restoring damaged ecosystems.

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