Konstantina Spiliopoulou

I am a conservation biologist with a wider focus on macroecology and biogeography. I am particularly interested in the potential and limitations of area-based conservation tools, such as protected areas and key biodiversity areas. The years prior to my PhD, I worked on spatial biodiversity patterns, connectivity and endangered species.




PhD Project [completed]: Tracking changes in protection of Greek Key Biodiversity Areas

This decade holds a particularly crucial role for the future of biodiversity, with aspirational conservation commitments now having to deal with global health and geo-political disruption. The biodiversity crisis is widely acknowledged: according to the IUCN Red List 38,500 species (28% of those assessed) are threatened with extinction, with predictions of up to 1 million species at risk in total. Protected areas are the most important tool to safeguard the diversity of life on the planet. They now cover 16.6% of land and inland waters and 7.7% of coastal and marine areas globally. However, it has been shown that sites designated in the last decade are often poorly located and do not capture the most important aspects of biodiversity, e.g. endemic and threatened species. This because they mainly focus on achieving the percentage coverage targets set by global environmental goals, rather than on protecting the areas of particular importance for biodiversity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, together with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 is calling for an expansion of protection to at least 30% of the land and sea. Yet it is critically important that additions to protected areas or other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM) are placed where they maximise the ability to conserve biodiversity and prevent extinctions. The European Commission’s suggests the use of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) as one of the best scientific basis available for identifying areas of global importance for biodiversity. KBAs represent the largest global network of systematically identified sites important for biodiversity, and when they are largely or entirely covered by protected areas, species extinction risk has been shown to grow at significantly lower rates compared to KBAs that are only partially covered or unprotected.

Trends over time in the degree to which KBAs are covered by protected areas is one measure of how well KBAs are conserved and one measure of how well protected area networks are targeted towards important locations for biodiversity. This trend is used as an indicator for reporting on the progress towards global environmental targets and goals and on the state of the environment in reports. It was an official indicator for the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11, and the Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15. The indicator is calculated as the mean percentage of the extent of each KBA covered by protected areas.

This doctoral thesis a) evaluated the Natura 2000 network of protected areas in Greece (chapter 1) and the European Union (chapter 2) based on the coverage they offer to the threatened species’ ranges; b) identified for the first time KBAs in Greece using multiple terrestrial taxonomic groups (chapter 3) and c) explored the global patterns of KBAs and protected areas (chapter 4) and the formulations to calculate the indicator of KBA coverage by protected areas (chapter 5).


Spiliopoulou, K., Brooks, T., Butchart, S. H.M., Plumptre, A. J. (2021). Implementing and Monitoring Global Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goals. In: Key Biodiversity Areas. CEMEX & Earth in Focus Inc., British Columbia Canada, pp. 279 (978-0-9947872-5-5) https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5501253Open Access Repository

Starnes, T. & Spiliopoulou, K., Key Biodiversity Areas. In: T. Starnes & W.R.T. Darwall (eds.). (2021) Identification and validation of Western African freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas. https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2021.RA.1.enOpen Access Repository

Spiliopoulou, K., Dimitrakopoulos, P.G., Brooks, T.M., Kelaidi, G., Paragamian, K., Kati, V., Oikonomou, A., Vavylis, D., Trigas, P., Lymberakis, P., Darwall, W., Stoumboudi, M.Th. & Triantis K.A. (2021) The Natura 2000 network and the ranges of threatened species in Greece. Biodiversity and Conservation 30, 945–961. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-021-02125-7Open Access Repository

Spiliopoulou, K. (2022) Tracking changes in protection of Greek Key Biodiversity Areas. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.

 Academic Host

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Anavyssos, Greece
Maria Stoumboudi


International Union for Conservation of Nature
Cambridge, UK
Will Darwall
Thomas Brooks
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Athens, Greece
Kostas Triantis
Stuart Butchart Collaborator