New IUCN WCPA Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines on transboundary conservation now available online. Read the news here and download the Guidelines here.
By Michael Schoon
In 1924 Poland and Czechoslovakia signed the Krakow Protocol, which “pioneered the concept of international cooperation in establishing border parks” with the result of the formation of three joint park areas. At the time these protected areas were created, the idea of fostering peace through nature was not indicated as a goal. Rather, the protected areas were seen as an opportunity to preserve a natural landscape that happened to cross an international border. This initiative also served as one of the first attempts to mitigate conflict over a border dispute left from World War I through the joint management of a “collective” good. At the same time, similar work emerged in North America, and, with the dedication of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park on the Canadian-US border in 1932, the first officially declared international peace park was established. The park was seen as a formal means “to commemorate the bonds of peace and friendship between the two nations” (www.glacierwaterton.com). Later that same year a bilateral Pieniny Mountains Nature Park was established between Poland and Czechoslovakia.
The following year, 1933, the interest in transboundary conservation received a further boost when European powers signed the London Convention Relative to the Preservation of Fauna and Flora in their Natural State. Here, the Convention, which took effect in 1936, explicitly called for cross-border consultation and cooperation when establishing protected areas contiguous and adjacent to those of other nation-states. Prior to this, Belgium had established the first national park in Africa in the Virunga Mountains of the Belgian Congo. In the 1960s, when the African colonies gained independence and separated into Rwanda and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the previously established national parks became de facto transboundary parks. The governments formally declared the Central Albertine Rift Transfrontier Protected Area Network from the individual national parks in 2005.
In the years thereafter many Transboundary Protected Areas (TBPAs) became known colloquially as Parks for Peace (or peace parks) and were designed to promote goodwill and peace between sovereign nations through the preservation of nature. Growth in transboundary protected areas around the world has occurred through the initiative of the World Bank, IUCN, and many of the prominent international conservation NGOs. This growth has accelerated rapidly, and the movement has gained in popularity in recent years, with TBPAs increasing in number from 59 in 1988 to 169 in 2001 and an estimated 227 in 2007.