Conservation outside protected areas


National parks and other conservation areas cover only 12-13% of the earth’s surface; they alone cannot ensure the survival of species and ecological communities. It is vital that lands outside national reserves and protected areas are managed in ways that promote biodiversity conservation, especially in the face of global change.

CWR conservation strategies are often aimed for species/populations occurring outside protected areas; off-reserve management. Conservation easements are voluntary agreements between landowners and a private local or national conservation organization for the preservation and protection of a certain area or species.

This module presents different methods and examples concerning conservation of CWR outside protected areas.

In situ conservation outside protected areas

The in situ conservation of species outside these formally protected areas is also known as off-reserve management1. A range of actions must be employed to complement protected area systems and offer a higher degree of protection for CWR. Such actions may depend on engaging private landowners in the conservation process and include methods to contain and reduce threats to CWR such as:

  • Conservation easements (both voluntary and legal)
  • Incentive-based schemes 
  • Local conservation strategies
  • Public and private collaboration for conservation
  • Special cases such as conservation in vegetation fragments and micro-reserves 
  • Habitat conservation planning (HCP) and mitigation banking.

1 - Hale, P. and Lamb, D. (eds) (1997) Conservation Outside Nature Reserves. Centre for  Conservation Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane.

To top

Conservation easements

Conservation easements are legal agreements allowing landowners to voluntarily restrict or limit the kinds of development occurring on their lands1, 2, 3. They are usually voluntary agreements between landowners and a private local or national conservation organization for the preservation and protection of land in its natural, scenic, historic, agricultural, forested or open space condition.

Easements serve as a means of helping protect biodiversity in cases where purchase of the land is not possible. They are legally binding and can afford long-term protection, as they are perpetual and apply to future owners of the land.

1 - Merenlender, A.M., Huntsinger, L., Guthey, G. and Fairfax, S.K. (2004) ‘Land trusts and conservation easements: Who is conserving what for whom?’, Conservation Biology, vol 18, pp 67–75.
2 - TNC (2003) Conservation Easements - Conserving Land, Water and a Way of Life, The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
3 - TNC (2008) Conservation easements: all about conservation easements, The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

To top

Conservation of CWR in traditional agro-ecosystems

CWR are frequently found in disturbed, pre‐climax plant communities such as roadsides, field margins and orchards and often occur in traditionally managed agro-ecosystems and agro-forestry systems or in marginal environments. Their conservation in such areas is incidental and not a result of deliberate policy. Steps to enhance or reinforce such incidental conservation of CWR, including the creation of micro-reserves need to be considered.

To top