Perspectives on Zonation in Ramsar Sites, and Other Protected Areas: Making Sense of the Tower of Babel


Zonation of land or water areas is a tool frequently used to clarify management objectives, assist with monitoring of the effectiveness of those objectives and reconcile user conflicts. The Ramsar Convention has promoted zonation for wetlands as a management tool, but in a rather unstructured way, in contrast to the highly structured three-zone system of UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserves. At the same time, over the last 40 years IUCN has been developing a categorisation system for protected areas, currently based on management and monitoring objectives. Research undertaken primarily on wetlands in China, but with desk-top study in other regions has shown that by using these management and monitoring objectives as guiding principles, and building on the Biosphere Reserve zonation system, a new approach is possible for wetland protected or conserved areas. Developing from the three-zone system of Biosphere Reserves this new approach proposes four zones, offering more utility and flexibility for managing, monitoring and comparing wetland conservation sites, both spatially and temporally.

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Zeng, Q. , Bridgewater, P. , Lu, C. , Yun, J. and Lei, G. (2014) Perspectives on Zonation in Ramsar Sites, and Other Protected Areas: Making Sense of the Tower of Babel. Open Journal of Ecology, 4, 788-796. doi: 10.4236/oje.2014.413067.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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