United Nations List of Protected Areas

The United Nations List of Protected Areas is a compilation of all designated protected areas in the world. There have been fourteen edition since the publication of the first edition in 1961/62. The List, based upon Resolution 173 (XXVII) of the 1959 session of the UN Economic and Social Council, represents a testimony to the great political commitment that countries have shown towards this global conservation priority. The list has undergone several names changes from the "UN List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves" to the "UN List on National Parks and Protected Areas" to from 2003 the "UN List of Protected Areas"


The first edition of the UN List, entitled the “United Nations List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves", was published in two parts in 1961/62 and was launched at the first World Conference on National Parks held in Seattle, USA in 1962. Subsequent editions were published in 1966/71, 1972 (addendum to the 1966/71 edition), 1973, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1993, 1997 and 2003. The 1966/71, 1982 and 2003 editions were also launched at World Parks' events.

Since its inception the publication of the UN List has generated a lot of interest and has been a catalyst in the expansion of many countries' protected area networks through the development of new national legislative measures (IUCN 1971). This expansion in numbers and coverage of the protected area networks of countries apparent throughout the successive editions of the UN List is illustrative of an increased recognition by Governments and others of the need to conserve the Earth's natural places, and more recently of the need to move towards a more sustainable management and use of biodiversity and ecosystem services.


Year Number of sites Total area protected (km²)
1962 9,214 2,400,000
1972 16,394, 4,100,000
1982 27,794 8,800,000
1992 48,388 12,300,000
2003 102,102 18,800,000
2014 209,429 32,868,673

Cumulative growth of the protected areas network since 1962 (Source: UNEP-WCMC 2014, with data from Chape et al. 2003)