Understanding and assessing equity in protected area conservation: a matter of governance, rights, social impacts and human wellbeing

Equity is gaining increasing attention in international conservation policy. Specifically, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Target 11 calls for “effectively and equitably managed … protected areas”. Yet unlike effective protected area (PA) management, equitable PA management has not been defined, and there are few examples of a comprehensive approach to equity in conservation. This paper focuses on PAs, though much of the content will also be applicable to areas with conservation objectives beyond those defined as PAs. The paper aims to support managers and policy makers progress towards more equitable conservation of PAs. It begins by explaining and exploring links between equity and justice, governance, rights, social impact, poverty and human wellbeing; offers conceptual frameworks for relating these concepts; and discusses assessment methods that can be used with existing PAs.