The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA) was present at the Fourth Mesoamerican Congress on Protected Areas held in San José, Costa Rica from March 18-21 with a side event that brought together representatives from conservation agencies in the Caribbean and Mesoamerican region.
The event, which took place on March 19th, included an opening speech by Dr. Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of IUCN’s ORMA office, a presentation on the BIOPAMA program by BIOPAMA Protected Areas Officer for the Caribbean region, Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn, and a lively discussion facilitated by Dr. Téa García-Huidobro, Regional Program Coordinator for IUCN’s ORMA office.
Participants included representatives from BIOPAMA member countries Belize and the Dominican Republic, Mexican conservationist Dr. Ernesto Enkerlin, head of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, BIOPAMA Global Programme Manager Nick Cox, and José Courrau, Senior Advisor on Protected Areas at the IUCN-ORMA office.
The discussion focused on gathering the participating countries’ responses to four key questions: which technical capacities are lacking for optimal protected area management; did participants wish they had more information for decision-making on protected areas and what kind of information would be most useful; what can be done to improve access to data and information; and are there tools that managers can use to influence decision-makers in support of PA management?
Participants stressed the need for monitoring and evaluation tools to strengthen PA management as well as legal knowledge for the creation of PAs. It was mentioned that alliances between academic groups and management groups had to be strengthened, while decision-making should be backed up by scientific evidence. Also, participants cited examples of the strategies used in their countries to influence decision making, including social media campaigns, working with the press and lobbying.
Executive Director of Grupo Jaragua in the Dominican Republic, Yvonne Arias, said “In the Caribbean, we have to be fighting all the time to save a site. The places that are saved, are saved thanks to the people’s struggle. We have the necessary information about PAs, but there is no follow-up.”
One of the discussion’s key conclusions was that through the creation of regional observatories, scientific and technical information and knowledge exchanges within regions would be strengthened. BIOPAMA is currently searching for a host institution and technical officer to open a Caribbean observatory, as Ms. Armstrong-Vaughn mentioned in her presentation.
For more information on the side event or on BIOPAMA’s work in the Caribbean, please contact Ms. Armstrong-Vaughn at hyacinth.armstrongvau....