10 Countries With the Most Protected Areas

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Dimitrio Lewis / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The World Bank crunched the numbers and ranked the globe’s countries to see who has the most – and the least – amount of land designated as protected.

With almost 200 million square miles of land on this planet, you’d think there’d be enough room for us humans to share with all the other species. But alas, we seem to be pushing them out and otherwise harassing them, to the point that the latest IUCN Red List shows that 24,307 species are threatened with extinction.

“Many species are slipping away before we can even describe them,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “This IUCN Red List update shows that the scale of the global extinction crisis may be even greater than we thought. Governments gathered at the UN biodiversity summit in Cancun have the immense responsibility to step up their efforts to protect our planet’s biodiversity.”

And how to do that? Protecting the habitats which these species call home is a great place to start. With that in mind, using data from The World Bank, the Telegraph recently mapped out the globe’s protected areas, giving us an unusual glimpse into which countries are paying attention to conservation. For its sources, The World Bank used information from the United Nations Environmental Program and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, as compiled by the World Resources Institute, based on data from national authorities, national legislation and international agreements.

For reference, the IUCN defines a protected area as: “A clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values."

As of now, a mere 14.8 percent of the world’s total land enjoys protected status; which is actually a step-up from 1990 when it was just 8.2 percent.

Surprisingly, one of the world’s leading oil exporters took first place for the percentage of land designated as protected.

Countries With the Most Protected Areas

1. Venezuela (53.9 percent of total land area) 2. Slovenia (53.6) 3. Monaco (53.4) 4. Bhutan (47.3) 5. Turks and Caicos Islands (44.4) 6. Liechtenstein (44.3) 7. Brunei Darussalam (44.1) 8. Seychelles (42.1) 9. Hong Kong (41.8) 10. Greenland (41.2)

And while the United States doesn’t have a whole lot to boast about – we come in at 13.88 percent of total land area earmarked as protected, there are other countries that have even less. (Though maybe those countries don't need as much protection?)

Countries with the Least Protected Areas

1. Macao (0 percent of total land area) 2. Nauru (0) 3. Sao Tome and Principe (0) 4. San Marino (0) 5. Barbados (0.2) 6. Turkey (0.2) 7. Libya (0.3) 8. Haiti (0.3) 9. Iraq (0.4) 10. Afghanistan (0.5)

As noted in The Telegraph, The World Bank’s data was compiled in 2014 and is not available for every country in the world.

Via The Telegraph