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Terrestrial and marine protected areas are treasure boxes of biodiversity ― highly attractive for bioprospectors looking for active substances in plant and animal genetic resources. Integrating Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) into protected areas policy and management is therefore essential.

People have long recognized the need to safeguard natural resources. More than 2,000 years ago, India designated protected localities per royal decree. The first modern protected area is the Tijuca National Park, founded 1861 in Brazil. Today over 11.5% (17.1 million km²) of global land and 1.17% of the world's oceans, scattered across 5,880 marine zones, are protected.

These numbers alone show that protected areas are the cornerstones of biodiversity conservation. They are critical to achieve the 2020 Aichi Targets and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Not only do protected areas provide a home to extreme ecosystems and genetic variety; furthermore, local populations have developed a significant amount of traditional knowledge about these habitats over the past centuries and millennia.

The ABS Capacity Development Initiative is implementing the ABS component of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA). BIOPAMA and its implementing partners, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, provide opportunities for further study of the linkages between ABS and protected area management.

BIOPAMA is an initiative of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) Secretariat and funded by the European Union under the 10th EDF (European Development Fund).