The Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group is the premier global network of transboundary conservation experts coming from a variety of institutions and sectors
Its mission is "to promote and encourage transboundary conservation for the conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values while promoting peace and co-operation among nations, through enhancing knowledge and capacity for effective planning and management of transboundary conservation areas, in fulfilment of the Durban Action Plan and CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas."
Governance: an Executive Committee consisting of the Chair, Vice-Chairs, Senior Advisors and Regional Coordinators, constitutes a leadership body of the Specialist Group. The Executive Committee is responsible for the strategic guidance of the Group, promotion of transboundary conservation and the Group’s work, as well as recruitment of new members.
As part of IUCN WCPA, the Specialist Group relies primarily on its voluntary membership. The Group’s network involves about 200 members from more than 60 countries, including WCPA members and wider group of individuals who are not WCPA members.
What is transboundary conservation?
Worldwide, different terminology is employed to refer to transboundary conservation practice, which is often misleading and confusing in terms of the objectives of a particular transboundary site. IUCN has led the way in gathering experts for the purpose of offering standardized terminology. In 2006, a comprehensive typology incorporating diverse transboundary conservation practices was suggested, consisting of:
- Transboundary Protected Areas
- Parks for Peace
- Transboundary Conservation and Development Areas
- Transboundary Migratory Corridors.
This typology serves the purpose of guiding conservationists and other specialists involved in the development of transboundary initiatives.
Cooperative management (or co-management) is at the heart of every transboundary conservation initiative, whether its levels are low (e.g. information exchange and communication) or high (e.g. joint decision-making). Co-management is one of the most distinctive elements and prerequisites of transboundary conservation areas in comparison to protected areas of non-transboundary character. Due to the complex nature of transboundary conservation initiatives, the challenges of operating in the transboundary context are considerable. The parties are often faced with differing legal systems, cultural and language differences, unequal levels of professional standards and economic development, etc. However, with more than 200 transboundary conservation complexes worldwide, the rise of which has been significant in the last three decades, the parties involved in conservation cross borders recognise the ever increasing benefits of such an approach. Benefits can span from ecological, social, and political benefits, with economic incentives supplementing them.