A workshop to develop negotiation and dialogue skills for natural resource management at the local level was organized by BIOPAMA, in conjuction with the Sustainability Challenge Foundation, from 17-18 September 2014 in Goba, Ethiopia, for the Bale Mountains National Park. It is part of the BIOPAMA capacity development action plan for Eastern and Southern Africa, shaped around the theme of supporting cross-sectoral engagement for integrated sustainable planning with actors active in and around protected areas.
Ethiopia, and specifically Bale Mountains National Park, provided a pilot opportunity to combine the use of up-to-date and relevant information on threats to the area with training on dialogue processes to advance the engagement with neighbouring stakeholders around the park. This BIOPAMA training aimed to build capacity on negotiation skills targeting the park managers and rangers of the Bale Mountains National Park, EWCA (Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority) staff, representatives of local government departments of Oromia and other stakeholders around Bale Mountains National Park, in support of a constructive dialogue to address the specific issue of uncontrolled grazing of livestock in the park that leads to overgrazing and habitat degradation.
The training and dialogue process was organized by BIOPAMA with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS), in Gobe, on the border of Bale Mountain National Park. After a two-day training of the trainers (SCF Alumni and FZS staff), 22 participants involved in negotiations around the Bale Mountains National Park joined the training. To better address the needs of the participants, a part of the training was delivered in Amharic.
The content of the training included an overview of the dynamics of conflict, negotiation theory and consensus building, including the Mutual Gains Approach to Negotiations in the context of natural resource management and nature conservation. The trainers used games and negotiation simulations to illustrate the concepts and principles of consensus building and negotiation techniques and allow participants a first opportunity to test what they had learned.
Participants intend to use this training to help them with the ongoing negotiations around resource use in and around the park. In some areas, agreements had already been reached, but in others, the negotiations are ongoing and this training may provide some impetus to resolve these remaining conflicts. A critical point raised in the training was the importance of a supporting policy and legislative framework at national level and the need for an iterative process to revise and adapt this framework to respond to needs at local level, if needed.
Two other trainings on stakeholder engagement and negotiation skills will be organized in Eastern and Southern Africa in October 2014 and February 2015, to support efforts to better secure protected areas and key biodiversity areas.