Protected areas according to IUCN
IUCN (The World Conservation Union) categorises protected areas by management objective and has identified six distinct categories of protected areas:
- Category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve - area possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physiological features and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring.
- Category Ib - Wilderness Area - large areas of unmodified or slightly modified natural ecosystems, retaining, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural condition.
- Category II - National Park - natural area, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations, (b) exclude its exploitation or activities inimical and harmful for the area, (c) enable realization of scientific, educational and recreational goals.
- Category III - Natural Monument - area containing one, or more, specific natural or natural/cultural feature which is of outstanding or unique value.
- Category IV - Habitat/Species Management Area - area subject to active intervention for management purposes so as to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/or to meet the requirements of specific species which may not survive without a special management.
- Category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape - area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value, and often with high biological diversity. Area managed mainly for landscape/seascape protection and recreation.
- Category VI - Managed Resource Protected Area - area containing predominantly unmodified natural systems, managed to ensure long term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while meeting the local communities needs.
IUCN categories of protected areas do not always cover Polish definitions of protected areas. For example, according to IUCN criteria only 15 out of 23 Polish national parks have a status of “international” national park (category II), while others are classified as V category - Protected Landscape/Seascape.