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Crowdsourcing the World’s Protected Lands

Cluster: Purple indicates protected areas that have been downgraded, evidently including nearly all of India.

Here’s a pretty new word we wished we’d never learned: degazettement.

While it sounds like it might be the act of unsubscribing to your local penny saver, degazettement is instead the act of removing something from an official list. Just as ‘deacquisition’ is a curatorial term used by museums when dumping unwanted art, degazettement is used by wildlife managers to describe property that is no longer protected.

And more protected property is degazetted around the world every day. So much so, the World Wildlife Fund has been moved to launch a website using crowdsourced information to track the growing encroachment upon protected spaces the world over.

PADDDtracker takes its acronym from Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement (PADDD), which, its website explains, is “the legal process through which national parks and nature reserves become weaker, smaller, or are removed completely.”

“We have seen PADDD linked to everything from political bribes to tse-tse fly abatement, but we can’t say anything definitive on a global level,” Mike Mascia, director of social science at WWF, told the website Mongabay.com. “In some places, PADDD is linked to industrial scale commodity production and extraction; in other places, local land claims and human settlement play a key role. Some have suggested PADDD as a way to enhance the efficacy of national park systems.”

What makes PADDDtracker different is that it uses data sets provided by on-the-ground humans to keep tabs on changes to protected areas. Its extensive user guide leads visitors carefully through the important process of becoming a contributor. PADDDtracker has set itself the goal of releasing data sets to the scientific community and other interested parties on a regular basis so that the information it gathers can help other researchers and organizations.

Learn more at PADDDtracker.org.


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