The Green List of protected areas puts a positive spin on conservation, contrasting the Red List, which is an enormously lengthy and depressing list of threatened species throughout the world. (For example, the Red List identifies 4635 species listed as critically endangered.) The Green List, while sadly not nearly as long, identifies well managed protected areas. Its goal is to “celebrate the success of effective protected areas” and encourage other parks to reach the same standards.
The list is made up of 24 sites in 8 countries. China, France, Korea and Columbia top the list with at least three areas each. Notably none are in North America, but just as notably, none are in South America besides Columbia, Africa besides Kenya, or a huge expanse of land between Italy and Eastern China. Many are national parks, but some are reserves or natural areas. In Kenya, Ol Pejeta and Lewa are privately owned conservancies, which poses some interesting questions about the most effective management style of natural areas.
So what is required to be on the Green List? The answer is not readily available on IUCN’s website, but further digging revealed the following five criteria:
- Values stated, objectives declared and being met
- Protected area legally defined, boundaries clear and secure
- Management capacity, policies and actions to achieve objectives
- Governance, participation, equity and benefits fulfill standards
- Visitor management and communication meet standards
It also appears as though the Green List, like many certification programs, requires an application process. So did those that didn’t make the cut simply not apply? Granted, the Green List is a newly revealed list that will continue to grow. The IUCN is next looking at protected areas in Croatia, North Africa, Micronesia and Mexico. The idea behind the Green List is to reward effective protected areas with a hopeful increase in tourism. Most of these protected areas I have never heard of and would not be at the top of my list were I to visit a country. But now they might be. Conservancies in Kenya are far less visited than National Parks, but maybe now more people will visit Ol Pejeta. I certainly will.