Banking on protected areas: promoting sustainable protected area tourism to benefit local economies
Globally, biodiversity is imperiled. The 2020 Living Planet Index reported a 68 percent average decline in birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, and reptiles since 1970; one third of the world’s terrestrial protected areas are under intense human pressure and about two-thirds of the world’s oceans suffer from human impact, as habitat loss and degradation, pollution, exploitation, climate change and invasive species drive catastrophic biodiversity losses. Biodiversity matters because of its intrinsic worth, and because ecosystem services, which depend upon biodiversity, underpin human wellbeing and support economic activity in a range of sectors. Our survival is, finally, impossible without intact natural landscapes and seascapes. Land- and marine-based ecosystems provide food, oxygen, water, carbon sequestration, resilience in the face of climate change, and a buffer against pandemics. They also foster economic activities such as tourism, which attract eight billion visitors to protected areas in a typical year. The need to protect these natural areas has never been greater.