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. https://www.iucn.org/commissions/world-commission-protected-areas/our-work/oecms
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.