Nagoya 2010: ProtectedPlanet.net takes you to 150,000 spectacular nature sites
Interactive Website Uses 'Citizen Science' to Boost Global Interest in Protected Areas
Nagoya / Cambridge (U.K.), 19 October 2010 - Moving from the breathtaking fjords of western Norway to Australia's only active volcanoes, touring 150,000 of the world's protected areas from an armchair is now possible with the click of a mouse.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has joined forces with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create protectedplanet.net - an interactive, social media-based website that provides in-depth information on both the leading lights and hidden gems of the conservation world.
Using the latest satellite images, users can pinpoint individual protected areas - such as national parks or marine reserves - and zoom in for information on endangered species, native plant life or types of terrain.
Protected Planet also offers visitors the opportunity to upload photographs of their trips to protected areas, write travelogues of what they saw and experienced for Wikipedia and recommend places of interest nearby-information that can be shared through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
This in turn might inspire others to make the journey, thus bringing much needed income to communities in often poor and sometimes remote areas of the globe.
The Ecotourism industry is growing fast and currently captures $77 billion of the global tourism market. As concern about global warming increases, more tourists than ever are opting for eco-friendly holidays, including visits to protected areas. According to Travel Weekly magazine, sustainable tourism could grow to 25% of the world's travel market by 2012, taking the value of the sector to approximately $473 billion a year.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "National parks and protected areas represent one key and successful response to conserving and managing this planet's nature-based assets. And in a way that can generate revenues and livelihoods for local communities. Indeed by some estimates, $1-$2 billion of global tourism is linked to the world's network of around 150,000 protected sites".
"But the benefits of well-managed tourism are currently uneven with some parks popular magnets for tourists and others hidden gems that are relatively unknown. Protected Planet has the potential to change this by bringing the world's protected areas into a living room near you. So whether you are a government official or a scientist or a citizen looking for a holiday of a lifetime, click on www.protectedplanet.net for a new adventure," he added.