Protected Planet National Technical Series: Republic of Korea

The Protected Planet National Technical Series is a new concept under the Protected Planet Report initiative which aims to support decisions on protected area expansion at the national scale by assessing progress towards global biodiversity targets, while also aiming to inform implementation of national targets. Therefore, the use of national biodiversity and land use datasets and the direct involvement of national protected area agencies in the inception, development and writing of the report is a fundamental part of the process. This first Protected Planet National Technical Series focuses on the Republic of Korea and was completed working closely with the Korea National Park Service (KNPS).

AIM AND SCOPE

The aim of the report is to assess the status of the protected area network of the Republic of Korea and propose priorities for expansion to support the implementation of international and national biodiversity targets.The geographic scope of this project is the Republic of Korea terrestrial territory, and territorial seas (from the coast to 12 nautical miles from the Korean shoreline). The Protected Planet National Technical Series is a desktop based analysis that ends with a spatial prioritisation, the results of which can help to inform further decisions on protected area expansion at the national level. These results may be used by the relevant Korean agencies to inform such processes and ultimately to build consensus on actions to improve biodiversity protection in the Republic of Korea. In addition, the approach taken in this report may be replicated by other country agencies.

METHODS

The Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) framework was followed to design the analysis. Its goal is to develop cost effective networks of protected areas that represent and maintain biodiversity. This project used the decision support tool Marxan and one of its user interfaces, CLUZ, to select additional conservation areas that met (KBAs) conservation targets. These targets were developed in close collaboration with KNPS and methods and results were discussed in a workshop in Seoul, Korea. The project was implemented through three main activities: 1) data collection; 2) assessment of the current coverage of Korea's protected areas network through a gap analyses; and 3) proposal of areas for expansion based on a target based spatial prioritisation analysis.

KEY MESSAGES
  • The results of the terrestrial selected scenarios show that, depending on the target scenario, an area between 17.3% and 46.4% of Korea's total terrestrial and inland water areas is needed to meet the set of pre-defined conservation targets while ensuring ecological representation of sites and features important for biodiversity.
  • At the time when this report was prepared there was not enough high resolution data to conduct a thorough analysis for the expansion of the protected area network in coastal areas.
  • A preliminary solution that covers 10 % of this area is however proposed with the data available.The analyses proposes solutions for expanding the boundaries of Korea's current terrestrial protected area network improving the representation of biodiversity, covering important sites while enhancing connectivity, generally avoiding high levels of agricultural activities and areas of high human population density.
  • This report has highlighted areas where the presence of globally threatened species has been confirmed and identified areas of high selection frequency. Some of these areas are not within designated protected areas or existing Key Biodiversity Areas. These areas need further assessment and could be candidates for new Key Biodiversity Areas under the KBA standard approved by IUCN Council in 2016.
  • In addition to expanding the protected area network to ensure adequate representation of biodiversity, there are many other attributes that are crucial to achieving a well-functioning network, that were not considered in this analyses.For example, effective management, connectivity between protected areas, equity and consideration of the contribution of other effective area based conservation measures to meeting biodiversity targets.
  • While the results presented here can inform future steps and decisions on how to meet national and international conservation targets, a wider stakeholder consultation is needed to prioritise conservation actions and test further alternatives for protected area expansion. Implementation, monitoring and evaluation of actions will be a crucial step in completing a full conservation planning process.
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