Protected areas, and the ecosystems and biodiversity within, provide many benefits for people. This includes protecting biodiversity’s intrinsic values, but also safeguarding the benefits people gain from them, such as the provision and regulation of water sources, and the climate benefits of stored carbon. Consequently, protected areas are now acknowledged as an important component of sustainable development. It is imperative to track and monitor networks of protected areas and their surroundings to ensure sustainable management of landscapes and seascapes.
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Strategic assessments provide the opportunity to identify and deliver regional conservation priorities and desired outcomes at a landscape scale with an explicit focus on ecologically sustainable development principles. Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is the practice of environmental impact assessment at the planning, policy or regulation development stage. Strategic assessments provide an alternative approach to project by project environmental assessment to incorporate landscape scale assessment and multi-jurisdictional partnerships.
The State of Hawai‘i has developed the first Mitigation Bank specifically for Aquatic Resources, focused on restoring coral reefs in MPAs. The result is an innovative program that maximizes restoration of impacted and degraded Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) while optimizing the need for mitigating damage caused by planned and unplanned impact events outside the MPAs.
WCS will highlight experiences with PA-based enterprises working with local communities in Bolivia and Guatemala to help promote sustainable livelihoods and improve governance conditions. In Bolivia, WCS works in a suite of Protected Areas and indigenous territories to develop community-based natural resource management enterprises, ranging from chocolate cultivation to caiman harvesting and processing of skins. In Guatemala, WCS works with a community to sustainably harvest an understory palm frond known as xate.
Protected areas in South Africa present one of the best opportunities for economic development, especially for local communities living around them. It is understood that protected area wildlife based tourism initiatives contribute more than R2 billion to South Africa’s GDP. The solution is to create a guaranteed business opportunity for the locals through linkages of SMMEs with procurement revenue of a PA. The strategy is to assist PAs to identify goods and services and ring-fence procurement revenue for qualifying local SMMEs.
The ongoing project “Incorporation of Sacred Forests into the Protected Areas System of Benin,” supported by UNDP and financed by GEF, preserves tracts of forest with religious and ecological significance in Benin. These sacred forests are at high risk, and the recent addition of Sacred Forest as a category of Benin’s protected areas legislation paves the way for greater protection of the forests included in the project scope as well as other forests around the country.
Wilderness Safaris’ community engagements and development activities recognise the realities of the importance of community support for conservation and tourism and broadly aim to ensure that neighbouring communities value conservation areas and thus will ensure their long-term sustainability. We endeavour to achieve this through finding ways to translate conservation and ecotourism successes into meaningful, real and visible socio-economic benefits for local communities.
The focus of the project has been on policy reforms and institutional strengthening at the national level and piloting innovative management options at Bangweulu Game Management Areas. The UNDP supported GEF financed Reclassification and Effective Management of National Protected Areas System (REMNPAS) Project developed a public-private-community partnership with African Parks Network, which led to the formation of the Bangweulu Wetlands Management Board (BWMB) in 2008.
Under-funding of protected areas is a universal challenge. The UNDP supported GEF financed project “Strengthening Governance and Financial Sustainability of the National Protected Area System” sought to improve the financial sustainability of the Ukraine’s national protected area system. To do this, the project: a) developed a comprehensive national strategy for protected area financing, b) introduced business planning for protected areas and piloted options for PA revenue generation.
Indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ conserved territories and areas harbor significant biodiversity, ecological and cultural value. The UNDP supported GEF financed “New Conservation Areas in the Philippines” project (NewCAPP) has worked with the Government of the Philippines and local and indigenous communities to create new conservation areas that are managed by indigenous peoples as a strategy for expanding the existing protected area network to cover more sites of biodiversity importance.