After the lines are drawn: The importance of protected areas governance

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It’s tempting to think that once we declare a protected area protected, all the species, ecosystem services, and ecosystem functioning within the area will be conserved in perpetuity. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We cannot simply establish protected areas, draw lines on a map, and leave these areas alone. These areas, and the biodiversity within, are still subject to internal and external threats – threats like climate change, invasive species (like these flowers in Blue Mountains National Park), and poaching, to name a few. In order to ensure that protected areas will continue to function and conserve species well into the future, we need to also ensure that these areas are effectively managed. For this reason, one of the streams…

An Island Vibe at the WPC

At any conference, it’s always good to break up the daily routine of PowerPoints and panels with a bit of color, a bit of fun. After all, networking is one of the main goals of events like this week’s World Parks Congress (WPC), and many important connections have been made over drinks or meals intermixed within the usual conference schedule. Leading the way in this respect during the WPC has clearly been the WIN Pacific Pavilion, which is a collaboration between a number of Pacific organizations, including IUCN Oceania, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP), and ­­­­­the World Indigenous Network (WIN).IMG_1362

This pavilion, set in the middle of the congress’ main hall, has been described as the…

On electric dragons and building a unified voice of the Pacific

IMG_0487The vaka is the heart and the spirit of the community. Its sails sewed together and painted by hand.   Its mast felled from the forest at the center of the island, its floorboards originated from the same stand. This canoe is guided by nature. Its double-hauls are pushed forward by the wind and its power comes by way of the sun.  The lead navigator looks to the stars for direction, feeling the waves for confirmation on their bearing.  When the winds are silent, the vaka bobs, listlessly.  The crew throws fishing lines off the back reeling in tuna, finishing the first before throwing the line out again to catch the next. Each night, under the light of a billion stars, stories…

Is technology the solution?

The World Parks Congress (WCP) in Sydney has come to an end with a closing ceremony that focused on several main themes: integrating indigenous communities into the decision making processes; recognizing park rangers for their work at the front line of conservation; involving the youth of the world to lead the future of parks, people and the planet; and learning the art of story telling to inspire larger audiences to support conservation. These messages are primary aspects of the Promise of Sydney, which is “the blueprint for a decade of change coming from the deliberations of this World Parks Congress.” It is now up to the delegates and the rest of the conservation community to go back to their countries and “save the world.”

But saving the…

Did the World Parks Congress reach conservation goals?

The World Parks Congress (WPC) divided the categories of Parks and Protected Areas into 8 different ‘Streams’. Out of these, the most relevant to me was Stream 1: Reaching Conservation Goals. The aim of this stream was to demonstrate that a well-planned and effectively managed protected area system is essential to conservation.

On the final day, the session summarized all that had taken place over the week including key solutions that came out of the 53 sessions held. The concerns and threats that gained attention throughout the Congress and recommendations for addressing them were then contributed to a document titled “The Promise of Sydney”. This will be presented as a final report to governments, NGOs, businesses, extractive industries, and representatives from other sectors…

Think Global, Act Local - Sydney's Parks

Greetings from outside of Sydney Olympic Park!

The event organizers, in their great wisdom, realized that even the most determined of us congress-goers  can’t spend eight straight days in windowless rooms without going stir-crazy. Therefore, on Sunday we had the opportunity to take a field trip and see how local parks are addressing the global themes of the congress, from ‘reaching conservation goals’ to ‘inspiring a new generation.’  Options ranged from whale-watching to cruising up the Hawkesbury River to visiting the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. While presenters and panelists at the congress had already discussed and debated many methods and strategies for conservation, here was our opportunity to see them being implemented on the ground. Four of us opted for the trip titled ‘Think Global, Act Local,’…

Lee White delivers powerful presentation in Saturday’s double session about the need for concerted efforts and strong political support to effectively combat poaching. Photo by Linda Holcombe

Today the Yale F&ES student delegation to the 6th World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia had the opportunity to sit in on a paneled debate among world leaders on “The Nature of Crime”, wildlife crime and enforcement.

On the panel:

Shifting the Way the World Shops

If you are what you eat, then just as true, you are what you buy.

From organic, fair-trade, responsible palm oil, Wildlife Friendly, and most recently deforestation-free, consumers can cast their lot with a variety of eco-friendly labels and define who they are by what they buy. It gives someone in New York City the chance to contribute to forest protection in Indonesia by using their wallets to influence the sustainability of the supply chain that serves them with goods.

The consumer’s role cannot be underestimated; conscious consumers can help to shift the social norms and support responsible supply of agricultural or forest products. To get sustainability into the mainstream, the world needs to shift its shopping habits, minimizing environmental damage, and taking the environmental costs of the…

Learning, celebrating, and asking at the World Parks Congress

 

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We are all students here at the World Parks Congress.

We are all here with a joint mission and shared worldview – that we need nature, and nature needs us. And, ultimately, we are here to learn from each others’ experiences with the hope that we can make the world a better place. The community of practitioners, scientists, and world leaders at the World Parks Congress bring diverse skills, experiences, and knowledge to the table.  Through collaboration and engagement, we hope to find solutions to shared problems and conservation outcomes that benefit both nature and people.

We know what the challenges are. We know how to solve the problems we face. But something stands in our way.  In our…