A wilderness area is a region where the land is in a natural state;
where impacts from human activities are minimal—that is, as
a wilderness. It might also be called a wild ornatural area. Especially in
wealthier, industrialized nations, it has a specific legal meaning as well:
as land where development is prohibited by law. Many nations have
designated Wilderness Areas, including Australia, Canada, New
Zealand, South Africa and the United States.
Human visitation is limited to a minimum, often allowing only those who
are willing to travel of their own devices (by foot, by ski, or by boat), but
this offers a unique opportunity to experience wilderness that has not
been interfered with. Wilderness areas can be classified as such only if
they are devoid of modern infrastructure, though they allow human
activity to the level of sustaining indigenous groups and their cultural
and spiritual values within their wilderness-based lifestyles.
Banner Peak above Thousand
Island Lake in a US
Wilderness Area come under
IUCN Category II National park — this bears similar characteristics to that
of Wilderness Areas with regards to size and the main objective of
protecting functioning ecosystems, however National parks tend to be
more lenient with human visitation and its supporting infrastructure.
National parks are managed in a way that may contribute to local
economies through promoting educational and recreational tourism on a
scale that will not reduce the effectiveness of conservation efforts.
The surrounding areas of a national park may be for consumptive or non-
consumptive use, but should nevertheless act as a barrier for the defence
of the protected area's native species and communities to enable them to
sustain themselves in the long term
One or several ecosystems not materially altered by human exploitation and
occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites and
habitats are of special scientific, educative, and recreative interest or which
contain a natural landscape of great beauty;
Highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or
eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the whole area and to
effectively enforce the respect of ecological, geomorphological, or aesthetic
features which have led to its establishment; and
Visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for
inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreative purposes.
In 1971 these criteria were further expanded upon leading to more clear and
defined benchmarks to evaluate a national park. These include:
Minimum size of 1,000 hectares within zones in which protection of nature takes
Statutory legal protection
Budget and staff sufficient to provide sufficient effective protection
Prohibition of exploitation of natural resources (including the development of
dams) qualified by such activities as sport, fishing, the need for
management, facilities, etc.
A natural monument is a natural or natural/cultural feature of outstanding or
unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative of aesthetic
qualities or cultural significance.
Under World Commission on Protected Areas guidelines, natural monuments
are level III, described as:
"Areas are set aside to protect a specific natural monument, which can be a
landform, sea mount, submarine cavern, geological feature such as a cave or
even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small
protected areas and often have high visitor value.―
Natural monuments or features often play a smaller but key ecological role in
the operations of broader conservation objectives. They have a high cultural
or spiritual value which can be utilised to gain support of conservation
challenges by allowing higher visitation or recreational rights, therefore
offering an incentive for the preservation of the site
Bogusław Oak, a natural monument in thePolish forest named Puszcza
Wkrzańskanear Leśno Górne. [below]
Blue Hole Natural Monument, Belize Poster ^
Biotope is an area of uniform environmental
conditions providing a living place for a
specific assemblage of plants and animals.
Biotope is almost synonymous with the
term habitat, which is more commonly used
in English-speaking countries. However, in
some countries these two terms are
distinguished: the subject of a habitat is
a species or a population, the subject of a
biotope is a biological community.
Habitat or species management areas may
exist as a fraction of a wider ecosystem or
protected area and may require varying
levels of active protection. Management
measures may include (but are not limited
to); the prevention of poaching, creation of
artificial habitats, halting natural succession
and supplementary feeding practices. Amazon rain forest biotope
IUCN Category V Protected landscape and protected seascape — area
covers entire bodies of land or ocean with a more explicit management plan
in the interest of nature conservation, but is more likely to include a range of
The main objective is to safeguard regions that have built up a 'distinct
character' in regards to their ecological, biological, cultural or scenic value. In
contrast with previous categories, Category V—Protected Landscapes and
Seascapes allow a higher level of interaction with surrounding communities
who are able to contribute to the areas management and engage with the
natural and cultural heritage it embodies through a sustainable outlook.
Landscapes and seascapes that fall into this category should represent an
integral balance between people and nature, and can sustain activities such
as traditional agricultural and forestry systems on conditions that ensure the
continued protection or ecological restoration of the area.
Category V is one of the more flexible classifications of protected areas. As a
result, protected landscapes and seascapes may be able to accommodate
contemporary developments such as ecotourism at the same time as
maintaining the historical management practices that may procure the
sustainability of agrobiodiversity and aquatic biodiversity.
Black Opal Spring in Yellowstone National Park in the United States.
Yellowstone, the world's second official protected area [below]
Schweizerischer National Park in theSwiss Alps is a Strict Nature Reserve ^
IUCN category VI Protected Area with sustainable use of natural
resources — a generally more encompassing classification that is focused
on the mutually beneficial correlation between nature conservation and
sustainable management of natural resources in correspondence the
livelihoods of those who are dependent on both. A wide range of socio-
economic factors are taken into consideration in creating local, regional and
national approaches to using natural resources as a tactic to
assist sustainable development rather than hinder it.
Satellite image of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia
Though human involvement is a large factor in the management of
these protected areas, developments are not intended to allow for widescale
industrial production. The IUCN recommends that a proportion of the land
mass is to remain in its natural condition – a decision to be made on a
national level, usually with specifity to each protected area. Governance has
to be developed to adapt the diverse – and possibly growing – range of
interests that arise from the production of sustainable natural resources.
Category VI may be particularly suitable to vast areas that already have a low
level of human occupation or in which local communities and their traditional
practices have had little permanent impact on the environmental health of the
region. This differs from category V in that it is not the result of long-term human
interaction which has had a transformative effect on surrounding ecosystems
Satellite image of the Great
Barrier Reef Marine
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