Land-use changes and the expansion of protected areas (PAs) have amplified the interaction between protected and unprotected areas worldwide. In this context, 'interface processes' (human-nature and cross-boundary interactions inside and around PAs) have become central to issues around the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This scientific literature review aimed to explore current knowledge and research gaps on interface processes regarding terrestrial PAs. At first, 3,515 references related to the topic were extracted through a standardized search on the Web of Science and analyzed with scientometric techniques. Next, a full-text analysis was conducted on a sample of 240 research papers. A keyword analysis revealed a wide diversity of research topics, from 'pure' ecology to sociopolitical research. We found a bias in the geographical distribution of research, with half the papers focusing on eight countries. Additionally, we found that the spatial extent of cross-boundary interactions was rarely assessed, preventing any clear delimitation of PA interactive zones. In the 240 research papers we scanned, we identified 403 processes that were studied. The ecological effects of PAs were well documented and appeared to be positive overall. In contrast, the effects of PAs on local communities were understudied and, according to the literature focusing on these, were very variable according to local contexts. Our findings highlight key research advances on interface processes, especially regarding the ecological outcomes of PAs, the influence of human activities on biodiversity, and PA governance issues. In contrast, main knowledge gaps concern the spatial extent of interactive zones, as well as the interactions between local people and conservation actions and how to promote synergies between them. While the review was limited to terrestrial PAs, its findings allow us to propose research priorities for tackling environmental and socioeconomic challenges in the face of a rapidly changing world.
Keywords: biodiversity conservation; buffer zones; landscape change; natural resource governance; protected area management; transition areas.
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.