What type of lands are included under OECMs?

OECMs may occur in public, individual private lands, community lands, and Indigenous territories. Examples of OECMs include set-asides within agricultural systems, conserved water catchments, locally managed marine areas, and other high conservation value areas. The process of identifying OECMs across different situations may differ in practice.

The OECM framework considers that the identification of OECMs in areas within the territories of Indigenous peoples and local communities should be on the basis of self-identification and with their free, prior, and informed consent. Recognition of and support for the sites should better acknowledge their significant contribution to conservation and customary sustainable use of biodiversity in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems. Indigenous rights, knowledge, and institutions must always be respected.

How do protected areas and OECMs work together? 

Protected areas currently cover 15.7% of the world’s land and fresh water, and 8.2% of oceans. While they are an essential and continually growing approach to conservation, the protected area framework is not universally applicable to sites important for the conservation of biodiversity.

The OECM framework recognizes that conservation outcomes are possible outside protected areas, and the people involved in the governance of those natural resources should be valued, respected, and supported. Doing so has the potential to promote a new model for conservation that fosters inclusive approaches and equitably governs land, forests, freshwater and oceans to achieve long-term conservation, as well as social, economic, and cultural wellbeing.

Where can we learn more?

The 2022 Fuller Symposium will explore the topic of OECMs in two online sessions, which take place on October 18 and November 3. The event will focus on bringing together leading experts to engage critically with OECMs, analyze the potential for these sites worldwide, identify implementation challenges and ways to address them, and investigate the conditions needed to maximize their positive contributions to both people and the planet.

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