Protected Areas

1.3 - Regional networks and transboundary areas

Goal 1.3: To establish and strengthen regional networks, transboundary protected areas (TBPAs) and collaboration between neighbouring protected areas across national boundaries


Establish and strengthen by 2010/2012 [72]/ transboundary protected areas, other forms of collaboration between neighbouring protected areas across national boundaries and regional networks, to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, implementing the ecosystem approach, and improving international cooperation.

Suggested activities of the Parties

  • 1.3.1 Collaborate with other parties and relevant partners to establish effective regional networks of protected areas, particularly in areas identified as common conservation priorities (e.g. barrier reef systems, large scale river basins, mountain systems, large remaining forest areas and critical habitat for endangered species), and establish multi-country coordination mechanisms as appropriate to support the establishment and effective long term management of such networks.

  • 1.3.2 Collaborate with other Parties and relevant partners through the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) to establish and manage protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and based on scientific information.

  • 1.3.3 Establish, where appropriate, new TBPAs with adjacent Parties and countries and strengthen effective collaborative management of existing TBPAs.

  • 1.3.4 Promote collaboration between protected areas across national boundaries.

Suggested supporting activities of the Executive Secretary

  • 1.3.5 Collaborate and consult with relevant organizations and bodies for developing guidelines for establishing transboundary protected areas and collaborative management approaches, as appropriate, for dissemination to Parties.

  • 1.3.6 Compile and disseminate information on regional networks of protected areas and transboundary protected areas, including, as far as possible, their geographical distribution, their historical background, their role and the partners involved.

  • 1.3.7 Review the potential for regional cooperation under the Convention on Migratory Species with a view to linking of protected area networks across international boundaries and potentially beyond national jurisdiction through the establishment of migratory corridors for key species.


[72]/ References to marine protected area networks to be consistent with the target in the WSSD plan of implementation.

Key activities included in this goal:

  • Collaborate with other parties and partners to establish effective regional networks
  • Establish and manage protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction
  • Establish new transboundary protected areas
  • Promote collaboration between protected areas across national boundaries

What is a transboundary protected area?

A transboundary protected area is a protected area that spans across boundaries of multiple countries. Typically the political boundaries within a transboundary protected area are absent, allowing for free movement of species, and there is a single management plan with shared objectives that spans all boundaries.

What are regional networks?

An ecological network is defined as an interconnected area of land and water that includes large core areas, corridors, stepping stones, buffer zones and sustainable use areas. A regional protected area network is an ecological network of protected areas that are designed to operate as a single network across multiple boundaries, including national boundaries.

What is meant by marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction?

All countries with marine boundaries have a defined zone, called “Exclusive Economic Zone,” that extends 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline, or shoreline. Areas beyond this zone are considered “International Waters.”

What are ways to promote collaboration between protected areas across national boundaries?

There are many ways to promote collaboration, including holding joint meetings, cooperating on various management activities such as monitoring and invasive species control, developing coordinated management plans, and forming joint management committees.

What is an assessment of opportunities for transboundary protected areas?

An assessment of transboundary protected areas entails the identification of both specific actions and specific places where the coordination of protected area establishment and management across national and regional boundaries can be improved.

What steps are involved in assessing transboundary opportunities?

Typical steps involved in assessing transboundary opportunities include:

  1. Identify key stakeholders from both countries or regions who should be involved in the national and regional assessments;
  2. Conduct an initial scoping of the key natural resource issues, and identify specific geographic opportunities for transboundary collaboration;
  3. Identify possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each potential site for transboundary cooperation;
  4. Broaden the set of stakeholders to include those relevant agencies, land owners, community members, and others who would be directly affected by transboundary collaboration, and potentially the designation of a transboundary protected area;
  5. Identify specific strategies to foster transboundary collaboration within the sites identified. This may include adjusting management practices, such as aligning management objectives, creating joint management work plans, adjusting the boundaries of the protected areas to account for additional objectives, staff exchanges, and coordinated financial planning. This may also include the creation or designation of a transboundary protected area.

E-learning module

Module 18: Marine Protected Areas

This module shows how the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas applies in a marine environment, and enables protected area planners to increase marine protection, improve the marine protected area network, and reduce threats to the marine environment.

External forum

Protected areas and network design

For those interested in network design and ecological gap assessments.

E-learning module

Module 3: Transboundary protected areas and regional networks

This module covers aspects related to transboundary protected areas and regional networks (PoWPA Goal 1.3), including the establishment, planning, management and assessment of transboundary areas.

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