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- Establishing protected areas is the most effective method for safeguarding biodiversity.
- Government agencies and conservation organizations set priorities for establishing new protected areas based on the relative distinctiveness, endangerment, and utility of a species or ecosystems. Many protected areas are established to preserve species of special significance, unique ecosystems, wilderness areas, and concentrations of threatened species. Gap analysis is used to identify elements of biodiversity not accommodated in existing protected area networks.
- While protected areas have previously been designed haphazardly, conservation biologists are developing guidelines for designing more effective protected areas. As general guidelines, protected areas should be large whenever possible, and should not be fragmented. Conservation planners should also aim to create linked networks of conservation areas to encourage wildlife dispersal.
- Protected areas must be actively managed to maintain biodiversity. Monitoring provides much needed information to evaluate whether management activities are achieving their intended objectives or need to be adapted.
- Managing interactions with local people and visitors is critical to the success of protected areas and should be part of a management plan. To obtain and maintain local support, managements plans should consider benefit sharing and co-management partnerships.