Assessing national human footprint and implications for biodiversity conservation in Iran

Abstract

Recent global-scale studies have revealed intense levels of human activities within many protected areas worldwide. However, these analyses rely on coarse global-scale data, making their utility for informing local-scale conservation action limited. We developed a spatially explicit national human footprint index for Iran, a biologically diverse country in west Asia, based on the latest high-resolution datasets available for human pressures. We assessed the extent and intensity of human pressure within Iranian protected areas, and across the biomes and ecoregions of Iran. We found that almost one-quarter (22%) of officially protected land was under intense human pressure, mostly located in north-west and west of the country. Protected areas within temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands are most impacted, with two-third of their area under intense pressure. The findings provide valuable information for targeting management strategies to alleviate human pressures within protected areas, and also act as a comprehensive database to track the state of protected areas through time.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for technical support from the Faculty of Natural Resources and Environment, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.

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Correspondence to Azadeh Karimi.

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Karimi, A., Jones, K. Assessing national human footprint and implications for biodiversity conservation in Iran. Ambio 49, 1506–1518 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01305-8

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Keywords

  • Human footprint
  • Human population
  • Human pressure
  • Iran
  • IUCN management categories
  • Protected areas