UNEP-WCMC and IUCN (2024), Protected Planet: The World Database on other effective area-based conservation measures(WD-OECM)[On-line], [May 2024], Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN. Available at:

In 2018, the governments of the world adopted the following definition of an OECM:

“A geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the insitu conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values” [1].

Because this definition was only recently adopted, most countries have not yet provided data to the World Database on OECMs. Importantly, this does not mean that no OECMs exist in those countries. OECMs will often be pre-existing measures that have not historically been recognised for their conservation values, ranging from Sacred Natural Sites to some military zones. The challenge for governments and other stakeholders will be in identifying OECMs, and supporting them to maintain their conservation benefits in the long term.

IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) has provided guidance on recognising OECMs [2].

[1] CBD, 2018; Available at: