How effective are protected areas for reducing threats to biodiversity? A systematic review protocol


Protected areas (PAs) have become one of the most important instruments to preserve nature and, when effective, can significantly reduce human pressure and derived threats to biodiversity. However, evidence suggests that despite the growing number and coverage of PAs worldwide, biodiversity trends continue to deteriorate, and human pressure increases outside and inside PAs. While many studies have focused on the effectiveness of PAs in maintaining ecological features, less attention has been given to the threat reduction potential of PAs, despite threats being one of the main factors leading to the need to conserve biodiversity. It is therefore essential to understand PAs’ role in addressing threats. In this paper, we describe the protocol for conducting a systematic review to explore and review the evidence surrounding the effectiveness of PAs as an intervention to reduce threats to biodiversity. We will examine the role of PAs in addressing several types of threats. Thus, our primary research question is: How effective are protected areas for reducing threats to biodiversity?


This protocol follows the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence guidelines for evidence synthesis and complies with the ROSES (Reporting Standards for Systematic Evidence Synthesis) reporting framework. We will use a comprehensive search, covering databases such as Web of Science—core collection and Scopus and organizational websites to capture relevant grey literature. Our search terms and strategies aim to find studies assessing change of threats given in PAs at any scale and ecosystem type capturing literature in English. Independent reviewers will screen search results at the title—abstract, and full text levels. In order to evaluate the relevance of the evidence, we will use the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence Critical Appraisal Tool. The results will be presented as a narrative synthesis supported by quantitative data. Additionally, a meta-analysis, if possible, will be performed.



Protected areas, Conservation, Threats to biodiversity, Protected areas effectiveness, Threat reduction in protected areas

In Progress