Assess the feasibility of transboundary conservation in your region by using a new diagnostic tool developed for transboundary conservation planners.
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By Michael Schoon
IUCN WCPA’s Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group and other organizations previously have attempted to coordinate transboundary conservation research programs, including the Transboundary Protected Area Research Initiative (TPARI) in southern Africa, various regional collaboration projects including the Biodiversity Support Program’s Beyond Boundaries series, the 2007 Parks, Peace, and Partnerships conference in Waterton Lakes, Canada, and some case study compilations such as Saleem Ali’s Peace Parks, Conservation International’s Transboundary Conservation, and Jim Thorsell’s Parks on the Borderline. IUCN has initiated various research projects in the past, resulting in important publications on transboundary conservation such as Sandwith et al. Transboundary Protected Areas for Peace and Cooperation among others. Over the past few years targeted collaboration on transboundary conservation research through the Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group has declined.
Several on the Specialist Group have begun to revitalize the transboundary protected areas (TBPA) network and look for common areas of research that would benefit from a broad network of researchers and practitioners studying similar situations. The areas that have been identified focus on common research questions – how to engender participation across scales from local to international, how to facilitate effective cross-border governance, how to encourage and foster collaboration, when and where collaboration and cross-border efforts make sense and where individual efforts may be more important, and what transboundary collaboration means for national sovereignty. Many of these questions would benefit from the multiple perspectives available through the Specialist Group and other researchers in a coordinated manner in two ways. First, the TBPA.net community can update, revise and add to the many individual case studies already presented on the website. Second, there is a compelling need to tackle many of these research questions through larger sample-size projects to see if there are common variables with common systemic effects across transboundary protected areas around the globe. IUCN and the Specialist Group can help in both compiling the individual case studies and in gaining access to databases and contact lists for the larger-N studies. The Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group could also conceivably help to build and serve as coordinator for a research team to conduct this research. Finally, and perhaps most important, the Specialist Group provides a rich source of contact between the research community and practitioners. Interaction between the two groups can help to address pertinent problems faced by protected area managers and provide data and information to scholarly inquiry. Ultimately the strength of the transboundary conservation community comes from these opportunities to share and collaborate.
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