Protected Areas 101
Glossary of Terms
This Glossary of Terms is meant to provide general explanations for a general audience. As such, appropriate guidelines and statutes should be consulted for the precise legal or technical definitions of terms when necessary.
Biodiversity / Biological Diversity – A complex mixture of the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among the types of organisms, the area or region in which they live, the ways they interact, and the patterns and processes that influence the health and functioning of that complex community.
Biosphere Reserve – An area established to conserve biological diversity, protect cultural values, and promote social development, while promoting sustainable economic development. Biosphere Reserves are established by national governments and given global recognition under the Man and Biosphere Programme coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Biosphere Reserves are designed to demonstrate and promote sustainable development approaches that are based on community efforts and sound science.
Community Conserved Area – An area conserved through the management decisions and efforts of a local group or community. Such areas may be managed to meet livelihood or cultural values objectives, but often result in conservation of natural resources and protection of the ecological functions of an area.
Governance – In the context of protected areas, governance refers to the traditions, processes, and structures that enable stakeholders to influence or make decisions concerning the designation, establishment, and management of a protected area or a system of protected areas. It is recognized that governance processes take place at several levels; global, regional, national, and local.
Habitat/Species Management Area – An area designated for the conservation of a particular species or habitat.
Managed Resource Protected Area – An area designated to protect ecological systems and processes while allowing for the sustainable use of natural resources.
National Park – An area established to protect ecological systems and processes, but which is also used for human activities that do not degrade the ecological, historical, or cultural resources of the area.
Natural Monument – An area established to protect a specific natural feature (such as a cave system or mountain), a living feature (such as an ancient grove of trees), or a site of significant historical or cultural value.
Protected Area – A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values (IUCN, 2008).
Protected Forest – A forested area that is protected from exploitation by legal means. Such areas are different from forest reserves in that protected forests are typically designated to maintain protection of other features or land resources from threats such as storms, floods, and landslides. In the Caribbean, forest reserves are generally established on public lands, while protected forests are designated where the land is under private ownership.
Protected Landscape/ Seascape – An area designated to protect distinct scenic characteristics, usually of high cultural value, that resulted from the interaction of people with their environment over a long period of time.
Ramsar Site – A wetland designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (also called the Ramsar Convention) as a wetland of international importance. The Convention supports both national action and international cooperation to ensure wise use of such wetlands. It defines wetlands broadly as “lakes and rivers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs, and salt pans”.
Strict Nature Reserve – An area designated for the protection of biological diversity, and where human use is limited.
Wilderness Area – A large natural, mostly undisturbed, area that is protected and managed in order to maintain its natural conditions.
World Heritage Site – A site designated to protect natural and cultural heritage resources of outstanding universal value. World Heritage Sites are proposed by national governments and designated by the World Heritage Committee under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (also called the World Heritage Convention).