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What it is

Have you ever been to a National Park, National Monument, State Forest, or similar park? If so, you've been to a protected space. Protected spaces are any land or sea areas that have strict limitations on their usage. In general, they are places that are off-limits to human development or any other harmful activities. Even during our times of sprawl, we have managed to keep these spaces free from development to protect the areas. These spaces are usually areas that are beautiful, culturally important, or important to the living things found within them.

There are a lot of different types of protected spaces
There are a lot of different types of protected spaces, ranging from areas in which only a few people will ever enter the space to areas that can still be logged or mined. The seven types are described below, but for more information, check out this link.

Perhaps the most well known protected natural space is Yellowstone National Park, but it represents only one of the many types of protected areas.Credit: National Park Service
  • Nature Reserves: These areas are used primarily for scientific study and monitoring. They tend to be very important areas that are either representative ecosystems or have some special geologic feature or species.
  • Wilderness Areas: These are areas that are protected primarily for the benefit of the wildlife within them. They tend to be large areas of land that are to remain unmodified or only slightly modified to allow the wildlife to live undisturbed.
  • National Parks: These areas are protected mainly to preserve a unique feature or set of wildlife for future generations. They tend to be designed with recreation in mind. They exist not only to protect the feature or wildlife, but to allow people to view and enjoy it.
  • Natural Monument: This is an area that is protected mainly to conserve a unique specific natural feature that has been deemed culturally important.
  • Habitat and Species Management Areas: These areas are protected and actively managed to try to preserve specific habitats or species.
  • Protected Landscapes/Seascapes: Similar to habitat management areas, these are areas that are protected and actively managed to preserve a habitat, but are also designed with recreation in mind.
  • Managed Resource Reserves: These are protected areas that are still used for their resources, but in a sustainable way that does minimal damage to the natural space and living things within it.
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