The Nature Conservancy - Parks in Peril
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Protected Area Systems

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“Collaborating on this type of initiative allows us to see our region from a new perspective… one that transcends national borders and limitations.”

Luis Olmedo Sanchez, Environmental Education Director of the Cerro Punta Integrated Development Foundation (FUNDICCEP), Panama


La Amistad International Park/Bocas del ToroSystems
are networks of protected areas, the most obvious example being the national system of protected areas for a country. Systems can also comprise other groupings of significant sites, such as private reserve networks, associations of indigenous or community lands, networks of ecological corridors, lands held by corporations, and other practical aggregations of sites managed by institutions and actors that seek to translate site-based conservation lessons into sustainable, multi-site results.

Photo: La Amistad International Park/Bocas del Toro © Felipe Carazo

PIP has focused considerable attention on working with government ministries charged with management of national protected areas systems. The goal is to improve the management of the entire system of areas. Examples of system-level interventions include training key personnel from across a government ministry of parks in the skills they need for collaborating with PIP partners and managing a variety of sites under their authority; sponsoring collaborative site conservation planning among PIP partners and system managers; working with system managers on system-wide financial planning and strategies for long-term financing; and supporting PIP partners in the development of strategies to abate system-wide threats, often through collaborative work on policy changes. For example, as a result of PiP’s work in Peru, the government ministry in charge of Peruvian national parks has adopted the Conservancy’s Conservation Area Planning methodology as an official tool for conservation planning.  PiP’s support of the Conservation Finance Alliance will support development of financial plans for national systems of protected areas in Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, and Jamaica.

Working with national protected area systems requires that PIP work across the topics of governance, participation, equity, and benefit-sharing to improve the efficiency of national protected areas systems in biodiversity conservation. Creating successful protected area systems requires social participation in the protected areas and throughout the region. Improving community participation reduces threats in protected areas by creating stakeholder support, reducing conflict with local communities, building stronger coalitions of individuals and institutions facing threats to protected areas.