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Climate and land-use changes reduce the benefits of terrestrial protected areas

An Author Correction to this article was published on 19 April 2022

This article has been updated


Expanding and enhancing protected area networks (PAs) is at the forefront of efforts to conserve and restore global biodiversity but climate change and habitat loss can interact synergistically to undermine the potential benefits of PAs. Targeting conservation, adaptation and mitigation efforts requires understanding climate and land-use patterns within PAs, both currently and under future scenarios. Here, projecting rates of temporal and spatial displacement of climate and land-use revealed that more than one-quarter of the world’s PAs (~27%) are located in regions that will experience both high rates of climate change and land-use change by 2050. Substantial changes are expected to occur more often within PAs distributed across tropical moist and grassland biomes, which currently host diverse tetrapods and vascular plants, and fall into less-stringent management categories. Taken together, our findings can inform spatially adaptive natural resource management and actions to achieve sustainable development and biodiversity goals.

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Fig. 1: Spatial concordance of climate velocity projected under the RCP 8.5 and RCP 2.6 scenarios.
Fig. 2: Spatiotemporal distribution of climate velocity and land-use instability within terrestrial PAs globally.
Fig. 3: Global patterns of climate velocity and land-use instability.
Fig. 4: Distribution of climate velocity and land-use change within PAs across terrestrial biomes during the near future (2021–2050) relative to a global median during the baseline (1971–2000).
Fig. 5: Climate, human-dominated landscapes and forest growth potential during the 2021–2050.

Data availability

All underlying raw model data are publicly available online. CORDEX climate data are available at Land-use Harmonization data are available at WDPA is freely available online at Protected Planet Network Expert-derived polygons of amphibians, mammals and reptiles are available online at the IUCN Red List Portal Polygons of birds’ distributions can be requested from BirdLife International Datasets on native richness of vascular plants were obtained from ref. 54. Biomes and ecoregional polygons are available at WWF database Map elements: (1) bounding box (‘ne_110m_wgs84_bounding_box’ layer) can be downloaded from Natural Earth database and (2) Land border was retrieved using the getMap() function of rworldmap library in R. Climate (temperature and precipitation) and land-use (cropland, primary forest, secondary forest, pasture, rangeland and urban) rasters for each period are available at Figshare (

Code availability

Authors calculated climate and land-use velocities using VoCC package of R statistical computing platform v.4.0.2 (ref. 49). Codes for visualizations are available on Figshare ( More information about the codes and data can be obtained from the corresponding author on request.

Change history


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We thank M. Di Marco for providing comments on an earlier version of this work. E.F.A. acknowledges PhD support from Macquarie University through the International Macquarie Research Excellence Scholarship (iMQRES) programme.

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Authors and Affiliations



E.F.A. and J.M.M. conceived the study. E.F.A. performed the analysis and led the manuscript with L.J.B. and J.M.M. All authors critically edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ernest F. Asamoah.

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Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks Isabel Rosa and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Global patterns of the combined climate change velocity and land-use instability.

(a–c) A bivariate choropleth of climate and land-use velocities showing two-dimensional velocity space across the globe during 1971–2000, 2021–2050 and 2071–2100 epochs. Climate velocity and land-use instability metrics were both reclassified into frequency distributions of percentile bins. Both climate and land-use change results are based on a spatial resolution of 24 km in a Mollweide projection (ESRI: 54009).

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Supplementary Methods, Figs. 1–4, Tables 1–5 and References.

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Asamoah, E.F., Beaumont, L.J. & Maina, J.M. Climate and land-use changes reduce the benefits of terrestrial protected areas. Nat. Clim. Chang. 11, 1105–1110 (2021).

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