Today, there are over 160,000 protected areas (PAs) spanning 12.7 percent of the planet’s land surface.
A concerted effort has ensured that PAs are indeed increasing in number and coverage; however, recent evidence indicates that they are not fundamentally inviolable – not today, and most likely not since the early 1900s.
National parks and other protected areas are subject to three major alterations over time: Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement
Of the three types of alteration, 60 percent were downsizing events, followed by degazettement (28 percent) and downgrading (12 percent). The impact of any of these events could be as small as less than a hundredth of a square kilometer to as large as altering 103,600 square kilometers
A single major player has emerged as a leading trigger of Protected Areas Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement (PADDD) events across the globe: industrial-scale resource extraction and development. Only half as many events were due to local land pressures and claims, and even fewer still were caused by comprehensive national revisions of PA systems.