Have you ever visited a protected natural area? Surely yes! Protected natural areas are an alternative widely used by governments or non-governmental organizations that seek to preserve the scenic beauty of landscapes and other elements. That is why protected areas are a great attraction for both tourism and recreation.
On this occasion, from AgroCorrn, we will delve into protected areas. Stay reading and so the next time you visit one of them you will know for sure what protected natural areas are , what their function is, what types exist and examples of some of them in various countries.
What is a protected natural area
Let’s start with the explanation about what protected natural areas are . These are delimited terrestrial or marine areas that receive a certain protection regime for presenting extraordinary biological, ecological, archaeological, geological, historical and / or cultural characteristics. Said protection regime can be provided by states as well as by private organizations.
What is the function of protected natural areas
The function of protected areas is precisely to preserve for the future those characteristics that make the protected area unique. In itself, the creation of protected areas is the most effective strategy when it comes to conserving biological and cultural diversity and ecosystem goods and services that are essential for the development of society and the beings that inhabit said region.
We recommend you read this other post about The importance of nature reserves and protected areas .
Types of protected natural areas
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has developed a classification of the different protected natural areas , differentiated from each other by the degree of protection they have and the activities that can be carried out in each of them. Let’s see the classification here:
- Strict nature reserves and wilderness areas: protect natural organisms and processes in the absence of human activity. The objective of this is to maintain representative examples of biological diversity. The only activity allowed is scientific research and species monitoring.
- National parks: they are large areas with landscapes of national or international importance. Permitted activities are related to education, scientific research, and recreation. Generally, commercial resource extraction is not allowed. Here we tell you more about what are national parks .
- National monuments: they are small spaces that are destined to preserve unique natural areas or of cultural, historical and / or ecological interest.
- Wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves: they resemble the first protected area described, except that here human intervention is allowed to maintain the characteristics of the ecological community.
- Protected areas and seascapes: are those protected areas that allow the interaction of people with the environment through traditional non-destructive uses of natural resources. Some of the permitted activities are grazing, orchards, fishing village, tourism and / or recreation.
- Protected areas with resource management: these are extensive areas in which the non-destructive exploitation of natural resources is allowed, so as to ensure the preservation of biological diversity and the ecosystem.
On the other hand, not only the IUCN has developed a classification system. The Natura 2000 Network , a network of protected areas in Europe, bases its classification on two types of areas:
- Area of special potential for birds (ZEPA): areas that are considered important for the conservation of birds, either due to their reproductive, feeding and / or migration functions.
- Special Conservation Zone (ZEC): areas that conserve habitats and species of flora and fauna due to their rarity, symbolic value and / or the ecological role they fulfill within the ecosystem.
Finally, there are biosphere reserves located in representative geographical locations for the conservation of the different habitats of the planet, including terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These reserves were designated by UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program. It is worth mentioning that although the biosphere reserves are internationally recognized, they are under the sovereignty of their respective countries, therefore, each of them determines whether or not it will grant (or not) any protection regime to the reserve. In this other article you can learn more about What are biosphere reserves and examples .
Examples of protected natural areas in the world
Next, we will indicate examples of protected natural areas in Spain and Latin America .
Protected natural areas in Spain
Spain has several types of protected natural spaces, among them we can mention: national parks, natural parks, natural reserves, natural monuments and more types that differ according to the different autonomous communities. In addition, this country is attached to the Natura 2000 Network project.
Protected natural areas in Mexico
Protected areas in Mexico can be federal, state, municipal, community, and private. Its areas are based on the IUCN classification criteria and also feature biosphere reserves. Two of the most emblematic Mexican protected areas are: Desierto de los Leones National Park and Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
Protected natural areas of Peru
Peru has around 158 protected areas that together constitute 16.93% of the national territory. The different areas are determined by the IUCN classification criteria. They also consider a type of natural protected area to the hunting grounds.
Protected natural areas of Ecuador
Ecuador presents its own National System of Protected Areas, with some criteria taken from the IUCN classification. Regarding statistics, approximately 20% of the terrestrial territory and 12% of the marine territory is under the protected area regime.
Protected natural areas of Argentina
The National System of Protected Areas of Argentina has the six conservation categories determined by the IUCN, to which are added the Interjurisdictional Marine Parks and Marine Protected Areas. It also has some biosphere reserves.
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