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News article25 September 20193 min read

DOPA Explorer 4.0 – From local protected areas to global conservation efforts

Walruses, Svalbard
© G. Dubois, 2019

In line with the forthcoming new European Green Deal, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has today launched the fourth version of the free DOPA Explorer, the most advanced global information system characterising the world’s protected areas.

DOPA Explorer, which was first launched in April 2015 as part of the JRC's Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA), assesses the state of and the pressure on terrestrial, marine and coastal protected areas. It identifies those protected areas with important ecosystems and species, and assesses the pressures they are exposed to because of human activities.

What's the mission of the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA)?

DOPA provides a broad range of consistent and comparable indicators, based on global reference datasets, on protected area coverage, connectivity, species, ecosystems and pressures at country, ecoregion and protected area scale.

These indicators are particularly relevant for Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (Protected Areas) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 14 (Life below Water) and 15 (Life on Land) and can support spatial planning, resource allocation, protected area development and management and national and international reporting.

What's new in DOPA Explorer 4.0?

Developed in collaboration with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and BirdLife International, the new release of DOPA Explorer is based on the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) of May 2019 and new estimates of carbon stocks on land and pressures from livestock. It also includes a new global dashboard and new multilingual documentation (EN, FR, ES) in a refreshed interface that can be used on multiple devices (PCs, tablets and smartphones).

More than 20 key indicators in DOPA Explorer 4.0 derived from more than 500 metrics provide detailed assessments for all protected areas globally that are larger than 10 km2 (more than 42 000 protected areas!). This means that the system documents more than 95% of the global surface currently covered by protected areas.

The new global estimates on total carbon stocks are derived from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) soil carbon maps and new JRC material documenting above- and belowground carbon stocks. Land cover statistics have also been updated using the 100 m resolution global Land Cover map for 2015 released this year by the Copernicus Earth observation services.

Our indicator factsheets, which have been updated and made available also in French and Spanish, provide detailed information on all the main indicators in the system.

How does DOPA support international conservation efforts?

DOPA Explorer is used by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as by decision-makers from DG DEVCO, DG ENV and EU Delegations in developing countries. It will provide critical support to the next CBD Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in October 2020, at which the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the next EU Biodiversity Strategy (2020-2030) will be prepared.

Over the past years, the JRC has been working closely with the CBD to ensure that the DOPA tools and services assist countries around the world in planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting their efforts to conserve biodiversity.

DOPA is also one of the key infrastructures underpinning the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA), which aims to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in protected areas and surrounding communities within the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. BIOPAMA assists these countries by providing analytical tools, datasets, capacity development and financial support.

Further information

Related Content

DOPA Explorer

The Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA)

Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA)

World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA)

Global Land Cover map for 2015


Publication date
25 September 2019