In 2018 the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) defined OECMs as a geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in situ conservation of biodiversity3, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socioeconomic and other locally relevant values.

To be considered OECM, an area must have positive biodiversity outcomes, regardless of its primary management objectives, and must demonstrate management actions linked to ensuring biodiversity conservation. This contrasts with a protected area, where the primary objective must be conservation. Under the Protected Planet Initiative, UNEP-WCMC now maintains the World Database on Other effective area-based conservation measures

It is likely that OECMs may significantly bolster the recognised conservation estate of many countries including in Africa, where there are a number of conservation areas that do not fall under the traditional category definitions, such as military bases or community-conserved areas used primarily for livestock farming. Very few countries have begun the process of assessing potential OECMs. In response, the IUCN-World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Task Force on OECMs has drafted a Technical Report for Recognising and Reporting OECMs (IUCN-WCPA Task Force on OECMs, 2019). The framework for an assessment of OECMs in the region has been conducted by Candice Stevens and Daniel Marnewick in South Africa.

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Opportunities and Challenges


  1. The OECM framework facilitates the formalisation, expansion and reporting of national conservation area estates
  2. OECMs strengthen interconnected landscapes and seascapes alongside protected areas.
  3. OECMs can include a diverse range of rights-holders contributing to area- based conservation, including previously marginalised groups, land use types and sectors.
  4. OECMs play a role in supporting local economies that are simultaneously safeguarding environmental assets.

Leveraging financial and human resources to assess, report, monitor and support OECMs, without diverting resources from other conservation priorities, especially protected areas, and verification and reporting correctly.

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