Protected areas (PA) have proven their value for the conservation of biodiversity, sites and their cultural values. The awareness of society regarding the preservation of Nature is expressed in many policies and conventions of international fora. In recent decades the surface area under protection has exponentially enlarged, reaching 15.4% of the terrestrial and inland water world surface. Nevertheless a bigger effort is needed to increase and better manage existing PA and networks, that has to be specially focused on the establishment of marine PA, that to date represent only 3.4% of the total marine surface.
Besides addressing the inherent complexity of managing natural systems, nowadays PA face additional pressure related to the increasing use of resources and global change. Therefore, the integration of PA in a wider landscape planning and management approach is becoming a key issue, where society plays an important role in the decision making process. This strategy demands the development and application of new methods and tools to reach the PA goal of becoming cornerstones of the sustainable use and development of our planet.