In a number of stories in the next few weeks, we will make a recap of some of the major wins for nature in 2021. Today we are starting with wildlife protection as a number of countries around the world created and expanded their protected areas with the goal of saving certain species from extinction or minimizing deforestation:
In May 2021, the Australian government took the decision to create two new marine protected areas, which would be twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Both of the parks will be established in the Indian Ocean, around Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. They will cover about 740,000 square kilometers of ocean. As a result, the share of protected oceans around Australia will go up from 37% to 45%.
Nearly a month later, the South Australian government proclaimed Nilpena Ediacara its newest national park. The park, which adds about 60,000 hectares of protected land, will be home to one of the most important Ediacaran fossil sites on Earth dating back to 500 million years ago.
In June 2021, Panama took a giant leap in its efforts to protect its ocean. As one of the countries most threatened by climate change, it declared the creation of a marine reserve with the same size as the country’s entire land area. This move has tripled the existing Cordillera de Coiba marine protected area and turned Panama into a true Blue Leader – a country that protects 30% or more of its waters.
In November 2021, Ecuador announced the expansion of the marine-protected area around the Galapagos Islands. The area is among the best places to explore wildlife, like penguins, marine iguanas, and giant tortoises. Unfortunately, marine animals there are threatened with extinction as a result of both illegal fishing and climate change. With the expansion, Ecuador will add 60,000 square kilometers (23,200 square miles) to its marine protected areas.
In mid-December 2021, the government of Costa Rica announced the expansion of its protected waters around the Cocos Island National Park. The country will add almost 53,000 square kilometers to its protected areas and will ban fishing and other extractive activities there. The expansion follows an agreement signed between the presidents of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador during COP26 in Glasgow on November 2, committing to protect a total of 500,000 square kilometers in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.
In early 2021, in Guanay, Bolivia, the government established a law to protect a third of its land, spanning 110,837 hectares (273,884 acres) of forests. The Guanay Protected Area comprises 32% of the Guanay municipality.
You could also read:
“Sustainable Countries? The Good and The Bad.”