Protected areas and other area-based governance systems are a cornerstone of conservation efforts. When well-designed and managed, these systems can reduce habitat and biodiversity loss, mitigate carbon emissions, and alleviate poverty. On the other hand, widespread evidence of the impermanence of protected areas – known as protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement (PADDD) – is emerging in the scientific literature. PADDD is largely related to expanding resource extraction and development (e.g. mining, oil and gas, industrial agriculture, infrastructure), but can also relax restrictions to enable access to resources by Indigenous and local communities, and in rare cases, foster more informed conservation planning. Research on PADDD challenges conventional wisdom about the permanence of protected areas, and provides the impetus for the conservation community to craft proactive responses in policy and practice. This talk will highlight global evidence of PADDD and its implications for conservation science, showcase applications of this research to-date, and discuss opportunities for area-based conservation in a post-COVID world.
Rachel Golden Kroner, Ph.D. is a social scientist at the Moore Center for Science at Conservation International, focused on environmental governance. She leads the organization’s work on protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement, a process known as PADDD.
Rachel uses principles from geography, economics and conservation biology to explore what works, where and why in conservation. Using methods including archival research, spatial analysis and impact evaluation, she studies how conservation systems (including protected areas and indigenous lands, among others) change over time. This work includes pioneering research on how protected areas have been altered and lost around the world (PADDD), and the resulting ecological, economic and social impacts.
Rachel is an award-winning speaker and has published in leading peer-reviewed journals, including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and Conservation Biology. She is an active member of the Society for Conservation Biology, and co-chairs the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas COVID-19 task force. Rachel holds a Ph.D. in environmental science and policy from George Mason University, an M.S. in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland, and a B.A. in biology with a specialization in ecology and conservation biology from Boston University.