MOOC on PAs management

Registrations to the January-March session are open!  Enrollment, participation and certificate are free.


About the course 

This course is about areas that are dedicated to protecting nature (“protected areas”), how they work and why they are so important in maintaining the wealth of the environment in our fast developing world, and particularly in Africa.

This course will help you learn about conservation challenges in Africa and how protected areas can help face them, from local level to international scale. These topics will be explored using best practices from the WCPA, and case studies from the field coming from all over the African continent.

The course starts with a presentation of what protected areas are and their role, importance and specificities, at local and global scale. Once these basics are covered, we will work through the various tools that can be used to ensure their sound planning, equitable governance, efficient financing and relevant assessment to make sure they have a positive impact on conservation of nature. The course will also highlight some management specificities such as marine protected areas, the link between protected areas and climate change, the role of gender and equity their governance, the power of ecotourism, the good practices for staff capacity building or public sensitization, the impacts of corruption, etc. Throughout the courses, we will showcase experiences from different region in Africa to better learn from success on the ground.

Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructors. NB: Coursera now asks students to pay for its certificate. You can however chose the free option to follow the course and write all the exams. If you pass the course IUCN will deliver you a free certificate.










Download the evaluation of the 1st session (October to December 2015) here

Download the handbook for the MOOC-GAP participants (FAQ) here

Read graduates’ stories (in French) here

Read Geoffroy Mauvais’ editorial on online training, from the PARKS journal here


Course syllabus

Week 1: protected areas concepts

  • Welcome to protected areas management course
  • Importance of protected areas and protected area systems
  • Role and functions of protected areas
  • Definition of protected areas
  • IUCN categories for protected areas
  • Convention on Biodiversity

Week 2: planning of protected areas

  • Planning of a single protected area
  • Planning of a system of protected areas
  • Integrated planning of a protected area and surrounding developed zones
  • Monitoring of protected area management
  • Trans frontier protected areas
  • Aichi targets

Week 3: governance of protected areas

  • Definition of governance
  • State protected areas
  • Private protected areas
  • Community based protected areas
  • Shared governance
  • Nagoya protocol

Week 4: effectiveness of protected areas

  • Management effectiveness and adaptive management
  • Law enforcement in protected areas
  • Ecological monitoring & conservation
  • Education and sensitization about conservation
  • Green List of protected areas
  • World heritage convention

Week 5: specificities of protected area management

  • Culture and nature
  • Capacity building for protected area management
  • Marine protected areas
  • Species approach
  • Tourism in protected areas
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

Week 6: sustainable funding

  • Financial planning
  • Economical values of protected areas
  • Funding sources
  • Funding mechanisms
  • Offset mechanisms
  • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

Week 7: cross cutting themes with protected areas

  • Protected areas & climate change
  • Connectivity and buffer zones
  • Ecological restoration
  • Gender & equity
  • Ramsar convention
  • Corruption and natural resources trafficking