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Size-dependent resistance of protected areas to land-use change

Year of publication2008
Author(s)Luigi Maiorano
Co-authorsAlessandra Falcucci, Luigi Boitani
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Magazine No.vol. 275 no. 1640
Publication typeJournal article
One of the major threats facing protected areas (PAs) is land-use change and habitat loss. We assessed the impact of land-use change on PAs. The majority of parks have been effective at protecting the ecosystems within their borders, even in areas with significant land-use pressures. More in particular, the capacity of PAs to slow down habitat degradation and to favour habitat restoration is clearly related to their size, with smaller areas that on average follow the dominant land-use change pattern into which they are embedded. Our results suggest that small parks are not going to be viable in the long term if they are considered as islands surrounded by a ‘human-dominated ocean’. However, small PAs are, in many cases, the only option available, implying that we need to devote much more attention to the non-protected matrix in which PAs must survive.