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Protected areas come in many forms with many purposes. They may be tens of thousands of square miles in size, or less than a couple of acres (10,000 square meters). They may be strictly protected with no visitors allowed, or they may be multiple use areas that protect wildlife. They may also allow extensive recreation, or they may be complex, long-settled landscapes with historic, scenic, and cultural values. The global diversity of protected areas is one of their strengths. Few would deny protected areas a strong place in conservation and environmental management. But there is debate over which kinds of protected areas are best, and how they should be planned and managed.

History

The earliest protected areas were probably local, often communally and informally designated sites consisting ...

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