Boran pastoralist at a watering hole in the Garba Tula region of Kenya.

Did you know that protected areas provide drinking water to a third of the world’s 100 largest cities? Or that marine protected areas play a critical role in conserving fish stocks worldwide?

These are just two of the ways protected areas — in their many forms including national parks, marine reserves and community conserved areas — support human life. Not only are they key to securing our water and food supplies, they also reduce the impact of disasters and help us recover from them.

Healthy forests stabilise soils, helping to prevent landslides and avalanches, wetlands and river basins purify water and reduce flooding, while mangroves and coral reefs protect coastlines from storms. All these ‘services’ help sustain the wellbeing and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

The IUCN World Parks Congress, taking place in November, will showcase the many ways in which we can safeguard ecosystems – our life support. It will highlight the successes and challenges of various approaches, be they government legislation, economic incentives or community-led initiatives.

    News and features

    Sargasso Sea

    Liquid assets

    Interview with IUCN Patron Sylvia Earle, legendary underwater explorer and ocean ambassador. She says protecting the ocean is not a choice, it’s an imperative - our health and wellbeing depend on it. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    Huascaran National Park

    Peru’s protected natural areas sustain both people and nature

    Livelihoods, food and biodiversity are tightly interwoven in and around Huascarán National Park and other natural protected areas in Peru. …  

    06 Aug 2014 | Article

    Integrating climate change mitigation with integrated water resources management

    Saving Samoa’s water supplies – protected areas play a key role

    Pacific islands may conjure images of pristine holiday destinations but they are facing a number of environmental challenges - pressure on freshwater supplies among the top. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    Building Radical Terace in order to vacuate the Ramsar Site-High Intensity Manpower

    Protecting wetlands to sustain human life

    Thanks to a major restoration project, the Rugezi marshes in Rwanda, protected as a Ramsar Site since 2005, can continue providing food and water to the local communities. …  

    16 Jul 2014 | Article

    Girls making tree planters

    Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park – a phoenix rising from the ashes

    Interview with Gregory C. Carr, American entrepreneur and philanthropist who will be a keynote speaker at the IUCN World Parks Congress taking place in November in Sydney. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    Damrey storm damage - Thai Binh Province, Viet Nam

    The world after 2015 – ecosystem management integral to climate-resilient development

    Human and financial losses caused by climate-related disasters have risen significantly over the past few years. The year 2011 saw the highest economic losses due to disasters in history, at USD 370 billion. These losses are expected to increase as climate change impacts intensify and development patterns expose more industrial and private property. …  

    27 Jun 2014 | Article

    Planting Palm leaves to stop desertification on the road from Mides to Tozeur, southern Tunisia

    Protected areas – reducing climate change impacts and supporting livelihoods

    The reality of climate change and the risks it poses to communities and ecosystems is increasingly being felt across Africa, with one of the greatest risks being desertification. …  

    15 Jul 2014 | Article

    Rooftop view of Nairobi

    Quenching the urban thirst

    Coping with the growing water demand of cities is one of the most pressing challenges of this century - half of the world’s population now lives in cities and the figure is rising. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    Kings Canyon Australia

    Protected areas critical to future of the world's drylands

    An IUCN study has revealed that well-designed and managed protected areas are crucial to the survival of ecosystem services in dryland regions. They can also play a significant role in maintaining the livelihoods of Indigenous communities and reducing climate change and desertification. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    marine protected area

    Greek fishermen approve a marine sanctuary

    Dedicated marine conservationist and IUCN Ambassador, Pierre-Yves Cousteau is founder of Cousteau Divers, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the marine world. Cousteau Divers is behind the move to create a marine sanctuary in waters off the Greek Island of Santorini which is gaining broad support from the community. …  

    11 Jul 2014 | Article

    Balancing conservation, community, culture and commerce (the 4Cs) in privately-managed areas