2017 Annual Meeting of the International Alliance of Protected Areas – Training and experience sharing Third day (23 October) – Nature Education and General Assembly (GA)

The third day of the 2017 Annual Meeting of the International Alliance of Protected Areas (IAPA), was held in Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve (NNR), Sichuan Province, China, on the 23rd?of October 2017. The speakers included experts and IAPA members from 5 countries (China, Italy, Romania, South Africa, United States). Through?10 speeches on Nature Education, best practices and innovative concepts were shared and case studies were discussed.

Frederik Venter, Member of IAPA Steering Committee and General Conservation Manager of Kruger National Park, South Africa

Conservationists used to consider tourists as a nuisance for conservation but the talks during the workshop on Nature Education showed that attitudes have evolved and sustainable tourism is now an integral part of PA work. Sustainable nature tourism can be an economic driver, and the example of South Africa (more than 80% of the costs of PA are covered by tourism revenue) shows that it can significantly contribute to PA financing. Nature education is critical in raising support for conservation among the general public and city dwellers. Examples from Kruger National Park (NP), Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve (NNR), Maramures Mountains Nature Park, Wanglang NNR, Nebrodi Natural Regional Park, Niubeiliang NNR, Qiantang River Headwater NP and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, inspired participants to develop their own educational activities in their respective PA. The need to build a compelling story and adapt messages to the audience was highlighted.

Some of the speakers from the second and third day of IAPA Annual Meeting

The General Assembly (GA) of IAPA was held during the afternoon and was attended by the 10 members of IAPA Steering and Advisory Committees, as well as 64 members of IAPA. The 2017/2018 IAPA workplan was revised and approved by the GA and will guide the work of the Alliance for the year to come. Delegates praised the organization of this year’s Annual Meeting and thanked the speakers and other members for all the knowledge acquired during these three days. Very relevant suggestions were provided regarding the strengthening of partnerships, joint monitoring, external communication, etc.

The “Annual Meeting Flag” was transfered from Tangjiahe to Changbaishan, where the next IAPA Annual Meeting will be held in 2018

The GA was an opportunity for IAPA members to mention the challenges they faced and several activities were included in the workplan of the Alliance for 2017/2018 to meet their needs. For example, guidelines will be drafted on topics such as monitoring. PA managers regularly have to deal with these topics but clear guidance had been lacking up to now and IAPA will bridge this gap. The implementation of the 2017/2018 workplan will thus further increase the benefits IAPA bring to its members.

The delegates listening attentively the agenda of the 2017 IAPA General Assembly