Global public opinion survey on space for nature

An adult cheetah yawning, taken during the Institute of Zoology's ongoing Cheetah Conservation Program.ZSL, in collaboration with IUCN and freuds, has carried out the first ever systematic global public opinion survey on the question of how much space we should set aside for nature, and why, to help steer the future vision for the world’s protected areas. 

The need for a global public opinion survey

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)’s Aichi Target 11, the governments of the world have pledged to protect at least 17% of the world’s terrestrial and inland water areas and 10% of its coastal and marine areas by 2020.  However, this target has been largely agreed through a political process, and there has been little consultation with the public on what areas we should protect for nature, and why.  In November 2014, the conservation community met to decide on a vision for the world’s protected areas beyond 2020 at the once-in-a-decade IUCN World Parks Congress, and it was critical that the views of this global constituency were incorporated into this process.

Informing discussions at the IUCN World Parks Congress

ZSL coordinated a key session at the World Parks Congress which addressed this question.  The aim of the session was to explore, in an interactive and participatory fashion, three dimensions of the question, ‘What space should we protect for nature post-2020?’, with respect to:

  1. Public opinion – how much space do people think should be allocated to nature, and why?
  2. Scientific advice – how much nature do we need to protect, and where, in order to conserve the intrinsic and utilitarian values and benefits that nature provides and that people want?
  3. Political targets – what does this mean for informing the design and uptake of new targets for protected areas beyond 2020?

A key aspect of this session was to ask people around the world – for the first time – their opinion regarding the space we set aside for nature.

Watch the film on Space for Nature to find out more:


Survey sample

The online survey targeted a randomised, national-level cross-section of society (at least 1000 respondents) in each of 7 developed and developing countries representing all six inhabited continents (Australia, UK, USA, Brazil, China, India and South Africa) and was also disseminated via ZSL’s and partners’ networks through social media and other means in September/October 2014.

PDF icon Space for nature infographic (9.23 MB)

See the survey results


Canadian Space for Nature report

The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) recently adapted the Space for Nature survey and administered it across Canada. The results in Canada are consistent with findings from other countries around the world that support much larger-scale protection of nature.

See the survey results