Urbanization and the Global Network of Protected Areas
David Potere, Princeton University
The goal of this research is to explore the vulnerability of conservation areas to both the direct threat of urban encroachment and the indirect effects of proximity to urbanized areas. A geographic information system analysis of the global distribution of urban land and conservation areas has revealed that today, 25 percent of protected areas (3.9 million sq. km) lie within 60 km of urban land, and 12 percent lie within 30 km of urban land. In order to estimate the conservation threat posed by future urban expansion, the aim is build a rough estimate of urban areas in 2030 by combining non-spatial, country-level urbanization estimates from the United Nations with recent urban population density observations and a composite of contemporary global urban maps. Initial findings indicate that urbanization has as important a role to play in setting global conservation priorities as do other components of global change.