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Management Effectiveness of Protected and Conserved Areas (MEPCA) Indicator

The Management Effectiveness of Protected and Conserved Areas (MEPCA) Indicator is listed as a complementary indicator under Target 3 of the Monitoring Framework that will be used to monitor progress in the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF).


Photograph of a landscape showing a fast flowing river in a mountainous area with trees and vegetation on the rocky banks of the river. This image is decorative and is not referred to on the webpage.

In recent years there has been growing international interest to protect at least 30% globally of the land and  ocean by 2030 (Dinerstein et al. 2019; Jones et al. 2020). This culminated in the adoption of a target in December 2022, at the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to effectively conserve and manage at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans within protected areas (PAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) by 2030 (CBD 2022). As global coverage of PAs and OECMs increases, it is vital to ensure that they are not only designated but are managed effectively, to achieve positive outcomes for biodiversity.

The Kunming-Montreal GBF contains 23 targets for 2030 and four goals for 2050 calling for urgent actions to conserve biodiversity (CBD 2022). Target 3 focuses on PAs and OECMs: 

Ensure and enable that by 2030 at least 30 per cent of terrestrial and inland waters, and of marine and coastal areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services, are effectively conserved and managed through ecologically representative, well-connected and equitably governed systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, recognizing indigenous and traditional territories, where applicable, and integrated into wider landscapes, seascapes and the ocean, while ensuring that any sustainable use, where appropriate in such areas, is fully consistent with conservation outcomes, recognizing and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, including over their traditional territories.’ 

Indicators are required to monitor how well this target is being met. Whilst there are well-established operational indicators to measure global coverage of terrestrial and marine PAs and OECMs (UNEP-WCMC & IUCN 2021), there previously has been no widely adopted global indicator that measures how effectively these areas are managed and the conservation outcomes they are achieving. 

Existing indicators of PA effectiveness have largely focussed on whether an assessment of management effectiveness has taken place rather than understanding how effective the management is. Furthermore, existing methods of assessing PA management effectiveness have focused largely on management process rather than biodiversity outcomes (Visconti et al. 2019).

In response, JNCC, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), developed a new globally applicable indicator of Protected and Conserved Area (PCA) management effectiveness, known as the Management Effectiveness of Protected and Conserved Areas (MEPCA) indicator. The MEPCA indicator is designed with a strong focus on achievement of conservation objectives and outcomes, to be applicable at the national and global level, for terrestrial, coastal and marine areas. 

The MEPCA indicator has been developed based on the existing qualitative OSPAR management status four question approach. It is a framework indicator capable of absorbing existing PA/OECM effectiveness data where they exist or has the ability to make a new assessment, for a streamlined assessment approach. Importantly, the indicator draws focus to the delivery of conservation outcomes, as a proxy for understanding management effectiveness. With the above elements in mind, the indicator is considered relatively simple, easy to understand, and flexible, so that it is globally applicable. 

A report on the development of the indicator (up to November 2022) is available in the Resources section, however it should be noted that this will shortly be revised to detail the most recent development of the indicator to its final version presented on this webpage (version 7).


The MEPCA Indicator

The MEPCA indicator includes a series of metrics (a to h) (presented in the flowchart below).  Once responses to the MEPCA metrics have been made, they are multiplied against the weightings, to produce a score for area management effectiveness.

Flowchart presenting the MEPCA indicator process and metrics (listed from a to h), their available responses and weightings that form version seven of the indicator. Once the MEPCA metrics responses have been made, they are multiplied against the weightings, to produce a score for area management effectiveness.

The indicator is supported by a detailed set of definitions to allow consistent and accurate metric responses (see resources). The indicator itself is housed within a spreadsheet to allow quick calculations of the overall indicator score.


Key MEPCA Development Steps

The indicator has gone through seven versions since 2021, from early development stages to the latest version (version 7). 

Photograph of JNCC staff member Gemma Singleton at the IMPAC4 conference. Gemma is standing at a podium giving a presentation, with a screen behind her displaying a presentation. This image is decorative and is not referred to on the webpage.

Review of existing approaches: 2021 to 2022

A review of existing approaches to assessing Protected Area management effectiveness and translation of the OSPAR Management Status Approach was undertaken in 2021 and 2022.

The early development stages (version 1 to version 3) were focused on adapting the OSPAR approach for assessing PCA management effectiveness to focus on the extent to which ecological conservation outcomes of a PCA are met, rather than assessing broader social and cultural objectives.

A case study of national wildlife areas in Canada was undertaken to explore the difference in scoring between an adapted version of the MEPCA indicator (version 4) and the Canada-METT (management effectiveness tracking tool.


Trialling the approach: 2022 to 2023

It is critical that the MEPCA indicator is adaptable to existing practices and approaches in a broad range of global contexts and therein does not increase the reporting burden on countries. As such, part of our work (versions 4 to 7 of the indicator) to date has been trialling the approach with real world examples.

The MEPCA indicator has been trialled in the following locations:

  • North-East Atlantic Region: OSPAR MPA Network - UK, Germany, Spain
  • Canada  
  • Costa Rica  
  • Saint Helena 
  • British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) 
  • Scotland  
  • Australia 

The trialling across countries (see Figure 1), exploring varied PCA and governance types, provided the opportunity to test the indicator and its applicability in a global context. The results of the workshop and case studies identified areas of improvement, which were used to update and develop the MEPCA indicator to improve usability and ensure global applicability. 

Schematic map adapted from Protected Planet to provide an overview of the geographic regions in which the MEPCA indicator has been trialled.

Figure 1. Map adapted from Protected Planet to provide an overview of the geographic regions in which the MEPCA indicator has been trialled. 


Socialising the indicator: 2022 to 2023

  • Virtual Workshop (2022): To further socialise MEPCA with key global experts (see Figure 2), a virtual workshop was held in 2022. Participants were provided with an overview of the work undertaken to date and to further discuss and critically test the weightings and definitions of the metrics.

Piechart showing a summary of the regions that attendees at two workshops came from (Africa 4%, Arab States 0%, Asia and the Pacific 12%, Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) 0%, Europe 36%, The Americas 48%)

Figure 2. Summary of regional participation of attendees from two workshops held in 2022 to socialise the MEPCA indicator.

  • CBD COP 15 (December 2022): A key step in the global recognition of the indicator was its listing as a complementary indicator in the KM-GBF Monitoring Framework to support the assessment of progress towards Target 3. Beyond the core negotiations the indicator was also presented through different events and meetings. To support MEPCA’s listing as a complementary indicator a technical report was submitted to the CBD ahead of COP15 detailing its development up to November 2022. It should be noted that the indicator has since been further refined with the latest version (version 7) presented on this webpage.
  • IMPAC5 (2023): Following the global momentum from CBD COP15, IMPAC5 provided another opportunity to socialise MEPCA.


References and Resources


CBD 2022. Decision adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, CBD/COP/DEC/15/4 Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (

Dinerstein, E., Vynne, C., Sala, E., Joshi, A. R., Fernando, S., Lovejoy, T. E., Mayorga, J., Olson, D., Asner, G. P., Baillie, J. E. M., Burgess, N. D., Burkart, K., Noss, R. F., Zhang, Y. P., Baccini, A., Birch, T., Hahn, N., Joppa, L. N., & Wikramanayake, E. (2019). A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets. Science Advances, 5(4),

Jones, K. R., Klein, C. J., Grantham, H. S., Possingham, H.P., Halpern, B.S., Burgess, N.D., Butchart, S.H.M., Robinson, J.G., Kingston, N., Bhola.N., Watson, J.E.M. 2020. Area requirements to safeguard Earth's marine species. One Earth, 2, 188–196.


Submission from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) to CBD: Progress up until November 2022 in the development of the Management Effectiveness of Protected and Conserved Areas (MEPCA) (


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