Are there good examples?
In all categories of management and for all forms of governance, it is possible to identify sites that manage to successfully achieve their mission of nature conservation. While it is always difficult to illustrate the impacts of management on the ground, it is possible to assess management efficiency through the WCPA management effectiveness framework in order to measure whether current processes correspond to what they should be in accordance with recognized norms and standards. Thus, the PA that would serve as examples are not necessarily the richest or the most beautiful, but rather those where the work of all stakeholders corresponds to what must be done in the local or national context, and de facto, those where the best results are obtained.
Different levels of recognition
Working at a national level allows identification of pressures and threats to biodiversity and ecosystems of the country, and therefore recognizes the global context of management for each PA. This step is important to highlight some priorities for the network of protected areas and to identify gaps in existing global management procedures. This analysis also helps identify potential over or under representation of certain areas or key ecological components, and to gazette new areas or degazette protected areas that has become obsolete (the question, difficult as it is, is indeed on the table now and should be carefully considered in several countries).
At the site level, the analysis relies on the management plan which is the reference tool for monitoring the results. Unfortunately, these plans are often heavy tools, lengthy and costly to implement and, ultimately, only partially operational. Seen as an end in itself, the management plan is not sufficiently thought of as a programming tool. However, he does not need to be complex to be effective; and it should be revised frequently and easily (“short, simple and frequently reviewed”). It is on the basis of this document that the evaluation of the PA performance will be conducted, in order to check that the methods and practices he describes are observed.
Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of management tools for protected areas are still not enough applied, whilst it is necessary to progress towards the certification of protected areas. We must therefore continue to promote the concept of management effectiveness and good governance, and to push assessment practices to better hold managers accountable, strengthen management structures and eventually improve the conservation impacts. The certification process may be able to validate good practices and provide an incentive to progress in protected areas. The ultimate recognition will be the inscription in a green list of the well managed sites. this label is expected to be stronger than most of those that exist today (such as World Heritage sites) in that sense they will be linked to effective results on the ground. The green list should celebrate the best management and therefore the best managers.
Some lines of work proposed by the roadmap…
The establishment of a green list of PA is the last step of the roadmap. This is the final outcome, and all other directions proposed therefore also should have been followed (and achieved) before. To achieve this, and in addition to all other recommendations made in those 8 directions:
- It is necessary to simplify the overall strategies of the structures in charge of PA to describe more understandable goals, so the expected results are clear, and eventually we are able to measure the impact on conservation
- Management plans must be simple and short and may be revised periodically. That way, they will be more effective than documents designed to cover a long period that indeed they cannot fully anticipate.
- The definition of measurable criteria to join the green list will allow the establishment of an innovative, relevant and motivating process for the managers and partners of PA in the field.
- It has to remain a live and credible process to keep the “green list” label effective and therefore monitoring and evaluation of sites that are inscribed will continue well after their registration, following the same rigorous and transparent rules.
As such, the green list is not only a reward but also a tool which will support the management improvement of lots of PA.