Information - This Indicator is an experimental statistic and has been published in order to facilitate user involvement in its development – information on how the data have been obtained and how the indicator has been prepared is available via the link(s) in the 'Readiness and links to data' section. We would welcome any feedback, particularly on the usefulness and value of this statistic, via 25YEPindicators@defra.gov.uk.

K4: Extent and condition of terrestrial and marine protected areas in the UK Overseas Territories

Short Description

The UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) are home to a variety of spectacular and often unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Protected areas are a key tool for conserving the globally significant and, in many cases endemic, biodiversity found in the Territories. This indicator will have 2 components: (a) extent and (b) condition of UKOT protected areas. It will show changes in the coverage of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) across the UKOTs, from a 2020 baseline. The baseline is calculated using UKOT protected area extent data provided by UKOT governments. The areas are aggregated across UKOTs and geographical regions and percent coverage is calculated for the land and marine environments separately. The indicator will also demonstrate the condition of protected areas in the UKOTs, using aspects of protected area condition that can be assessed cost-effectively.

Readiness and links to data

This indicator is not available for reporting in 2023 in a finalised form. An interim indicator is presented here that shows the extent of protected areas and OECMs across the UKOTs. Information on how the data have been obtained and how the statistics have been calculated is available in JNCC Report Number 735.

The data are being published as experimental statistics in order to facilitate user involvement in the development of this indicator. We would therefore welcome any feedback on these statistics, particularly on their usefulness and value, via 25YEPindicators@defra.gov.uk.

Development of the condition aspect of this indicator has begun, exploring the feasibility of assessing terrestrial protected area condition and using 4 UKOTs as case studies to assess options for marine protected area condition.

Notes on indicator

‘All UKOTs’ (results presented in bold on the chart) includes 13 UK Overseas Territories; the British Antarctic Territory is not included. ‘Mediterranean’ includes the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and Gibraltar. ‘Indian and Pacific Oceans’ includes British Indian Ocean Territory and Pitcairn Islands group. ‘South Atlantic’ includes the Falkland Islands, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. ‘Wider Caribbean’ includes Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

The indicator includes protected areas and OECMs formally established up to and during December 2022, where these are implemented for and/or deliver biodiversity conservation. There is a wide range of protected area designation types within and across the UKOTs; the data reported represent the UKOT governments’ views on the composition of their respective protected area networks. Extent is measured using the outer boundaries of sites; the indicator does not assess the extent of management measures within protected areas and OECMs. UK Hydrographic Office data are used to map UK Overseas Territories’ seas in the absence of formally agreed maritime boundaries.

The UKOT PA network grew in 2022 with the designation of two terrestrial protected areas covering 100% of the land area of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (a South Atlantic territory). New marine and terrestrial protected area designations were also reported for the Cayman Islands and newly recognised marine OECMs were reported for Gibraltar.

Improvements and/or amendments to protected area data are also reported for Ascension Island, British Virgin Islands and Tristan da Cunha. These resulted in a more accurate measure of the total protection in terrestrial and marine environments, but corrections to British Virgin Islands data led to an 84 km2 reduction in the total extent of marine protected areas for the Wider Caribbean (percent coverage of the marine environment remained the same). Further details can be found in Annex 1 of JNCC Report Number 735.

Indicator components

Figure K4: Extent of terrestrial and marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures in the UK Overseas Territories, in total and by region, 2022

Table K4: Extent of terrestrial and marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures in the UK Overseas Territories, in total and by region, 2022

Ukot Marine; total area protected Marine; total area unprotected Terrestrial; total area protected Terrestrial; total area unprotected
All UKOTs 74.95 25.05 26.09 73.91
Indian and Pacific Oceans 99.98 0.02 60.56 39.44
Mediterranean 22.72 77.28 38.08 61.92
South Atlantic 84.44 15.56 26.46 73.54
Wider Caribbean 0.10 99.90 15.02 84.98

Trend description for K4

As of the end of December 2022, protected areas and OECMs covered three-quarters (75%) of the marine environment in the UKOTs (remaining level since 2021), but grew to cover more than a quarter (26.1%) of the terrestrial environment (up from 4.7% in 2021). Given that the UKOTs’ waters are more than 300 times larger than their collective land area (5,748,623 km2 of sea compared to 17,738 km2 of land), correspondingly the extent of marine protection (4,308,594 km2) is also 3 orders of magnitude larger than for the terrestrial environment (4,628 km2). There are marked differences in protected area coverage between regions, with the 2 UKOTs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans protecting the greatest proportions of the terrestrial and marine environment (collectively) compared to other regions.

Assessment of change

No assessment of change was undertaken for this indicator as a suitable time series is not yet available in the Outcome Indicator Framework.

Indicator Metadata