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Dr. James Watson of WCS Lays Out Vision for Protected Areas at IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress

Conservationists gathered at the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress to think big and act fast in the effort to maintain and expand protected areas that safeguard wildlife, ecosystems, and the services they provide to animals and people alike, according to Dr. James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Watson, Director of WCS’s Climate Change Program, outlined the successes, challenges, and need for a larger conservation vision for the world’s protected area networks in his keynote address for the Opening Parallel Plenary of the Congress’s Parks session.

The following are quotes from Watson’s keynote address:

“We need social, financial, and political buy-in and, at the very least, the various levels of government and industry to be neutral to conservation, and at best actively supporting conservation.”

“To achieve conservation success and to make sure protected areas play their role in this success, we need to engage with local communities, with industry and government within and beyond the protected areas.”

“On Sunday, my wife and daughter, Annika, took a friend to a local protected area to look for platypus about 20 miles out of Brisbane. When we pulled into the car park, she asked “are we in the wild?” Are we in the wild? I don’t know what motivates you, but this is what motivates me.”

Without well managed protected areas, the tiger would be functionally extinct.”

“All of us here know of many places around the world that if it were not for a place being protected, an endangered species would have gone extinct.”

“We are in the midst of a one-in-a-hundred-million-year extinction crisis, we are causing it, and while we are trying, things are getting worse by the year.”

“All society needs to be clear on the role protected areas play when well managed, and well placed, and with clear objectives, are working to save that natural capital and heritage.”

To read his recent paper in Nature, click here:

For a video of Dr. Watson discussing the promise of protected areas and the challenges they face, click here:

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