IUCN Category II - National Park
Large landscape/seascape level protected areas
This category refers to the large protected areas that play a role in the connectivity of the landscape/seascape. They are defined by IUCN as “ large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities ”.1 The primary objective of protected areas in this category is to protect natural biodiversity, its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation.
Developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with support of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and other international institutions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and assigned by national governments
Year of creation
These areas are typically large and conserve a functioning “ecosystem”, although to be able to achieve this, the protected area may need to be complemented by sympathetic management in surrounding areas.1
- The area should contain representative examples of major natural regions, and biological and environmental features or scenery, where native plant and animal species, habitats and geodiversity sites are of special spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational or tourist significance.
- The area should be of sufficient size and ecological quality so as to maintain ecological functions and processes that will allow the native species and communities to persist for the long term with minimal management intervention.
- The composition, structure and function of biodiversity should be to a great degree in a “natural” state or have the potential to be restored to such a state, with relatively low risk of successful invasions by non-native species.
These areas are managed to maintain large natural landscapes/seascapes, and this can be carried out by a range of actors depending on the governance type of the area (see factsheet IUCN Protected Area categories for information on governance types). While these protected areas are designed to protect or restore natural areas, they are generally not as strictly conserved as category Ia, and will receive greater visitor numbers than category Ib.
Legal and compliance – The classification of a category II protected area requires that such areas are managed for conservation by legal or other effective means, and therefore legal recognition and protection at the national or sub-national level is likely to be present in these sites. The level of legal protection will however vary between countries, and will depend on the governance type of the area, as they receive differing levels of recognition by government in different countries. Nonetheless a number of national laws are likely to apply to these sites that deter large-scale economic activities in order to maintain the conservation values of these large unmodified areas.
As designated protected areas, these sites receive international attention and have been incorporated into a number of environmental safeguard standards. These include those of multilateral financial institutions including the World Bank2, the International Finance Corporation3, the European Investment Bank4, the Asian Development Bank5, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development6 and the Inter-American Development Bank7. Such standards often require that project activities do not take place within these areas unless they do not adversely impact the area and are compatible with the conservation aims of the protected area. In cases where projects are eligible for funding, additional requirements often apply, including consultation with and informed consent by stakeholders and managers, as well as the implementation of additional programs to enhance the conservation aims of the protected area. These standards refer to those that have been designated as well as areas officially proposed for protection.
In addition, a number of sector specific safeguard standards refer to protected areas, many of which are related to certification programs, including the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) that declares categories I and II as ‘no-go’ areas8, as well as the standards of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM)9 and the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC)10 that requires members to identify and respect legally protected areas. Protected areas form one of the values of the High Conservation Value (HCV) approach and are therefore included in a number of certification programmes and standards that adopt this approach requiring that such values are maintained or enhanced. These include the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)11, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)12, the Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS)13 and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA)14.
Biodiversity – These areas are protected for their biodiversity conservation values based on their size and intactness. These areas are therefore likely to hold high biodiversity value due to their potential role in maintaining natural processes and species that are perhaps threatened in more modified landscapes. Although relatively large in size, these areas form distinct management units that therefore of high relevance for mitigating and avoiding risk from biodiversity loss.
Socio-cultural – These areas are largely free of human habitation and activity and therefore the presence of socio-cultural values are less likely due to a lack of human presence and intervention at sites. Nonetheless, some small-scale activities and human presence may exist within these areas, and many will hold some cultural value as a result of recreational use at these sites.
- Protected Planet is a tool for visualizing, mapping and contributing to information on protected areas. This includes information on the IUCN category where known. Protected Planet brings together spatial data, descriptive information and images from the World Database on Protected Areas, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), WikipediaTM, PanaramioTM, FlickrTM, and Google MapsTM.
- The Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) for business provides a visualisation and GIS download tool for protected areas, including the IUCN category where known.
- Dudley, N. (Editor) (2008). Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. x + 86pp.
- World Bank (2001) Operational Policy 4.04: Natural Habitats. World Bank, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
- IFC (2012) Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management. International Finance Corporation, Washington, DC.
- EIB (2009) Statement of Environmental and Social Principles and Standards. European Investment Bank, Luxembourg.
- ADB (2009) Safeguard Policy Statement. Asian Development Bank, Manila, Phillipines.
- EBRD (2008) Environmental and Social Policy. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, London, U.K.
- IDB (2006) Environment and Safeguards Compliance Policy. Inter-American Development Bank , Washington, DC, U.S.A.
- RSB. (2009) Annex to the Guidelines for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, Stakeholder Mapping and Community Consultation Specific to the Biofuels Sector- Ecosystem and Conservation Specialist. Version 1.0. Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Lausanne, France.
- ARM (2010) Fairtrade and fairmined standard for gold from artisanal and small-scale mining including associated precious metals. Alliance for Responsible Mining Foundation, Antioquia, Colombia.
- RJC (2009) Responsible Jewellery Council Standards Guidance. The Responsible Jewellery Council. London, U.K.
- RSPO (2007) RSPO Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Palm Oil Production. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Selangor, Malaysia.
- FSC (2002) FSC Principles and Criteria for Forest Stewardship version 4. Forest Stewardship Council, Powys U.K.
- RTRS. (2010) RTRS Standard for Responsible Soy Production Version 1.0. The Round Table on Responsible Soy, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- CCBA. (2008) Climate, Community & Biodiversity Project Design Standards Second Edition. The Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance, Arlington, VA, U.S.A.
Dowload this factsheet as a PDF
If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can correct or extend the information provided