Representation of Global and National Conservation Priorities by Colombia's Protected Area Network
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Background: How do national-level actions overlap with global priorities for conservation? Answering this question is especially important in countries with high and unique biological diversity like Colombia. Global biodiversity schemes provide conservation guidance at a large scale, while national governments gazette land for protection based on a combination of criteria at regional or local scales. Information on how a protected area network represents global and national conservation priorities is crucial for finding gaps in coverage and for future expansion of the system. Methodology/Principal Findings: We evaluated the agreement of Colombia's protected area network with global conservation priorities, and the extent to which the network reflects the country's biomes, species richness, and common environmental and physical conditions. We used this information to identify priority biomes for conservation. We find the dominant strategy in Colombia has been a proactive one, allocating the highest proportion of protected land on intact, difficult to access and species rich areas like the Amazon. Threatened and unique areas are disproportionately absent from Colombia's protected lands. We highlight six biomes in Colombia as conservation priorities that should be considered in any future expansion of Colombia's protected area network. Two of these biomes have less than 3% of their area protected and more than 70% of their area transformed for human use. One has less than 3% protected and high numbers of threatened vertebrates. Three biomes fall in both categories. Conclusions: Expansion of Colombia's Protected Area Network should consider the current representativeness of the network. We indicate six priority biomes that can contribute to improving the representation of threatened species and biomes in Colombia.