The BIOPAMA Observatory for Protected Areas and Biodiversity in West and Central Africa has finalized testing the tools for protected area data collection and will start soon their dissemination and use in the region, with the support of regional and national actors. The Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux de Gabon (ANPN - National Parks Agency) and the Réseau des Aires Protegées d’Afrique Centrale (RAPAC – Central Africa Protected Areas Network) have been crucial partners for BIOPAMA in this process designed to support decision making through the collection, management, and analysis of protected areas data.
The ANPN and the RAPAC hosted a crucial test operation on two BIOPAMA tools recently developed: the BIOPAMA Form for assessment of protected area management effectiveness and the BIOPAMA Capacity Building Toolkit, COMIT (Coach Observatory Mission Information Toolkit), for training of coaches and park managers on the methodology for data collection, protected areas management, and data analysis. The combined objective of the Form and the COMIT is to improve the efficiency of protected area management by providing monitoring and tracking tools to support decision making.
The tests were conducted from 23rd March – 3rd April 2015 and brought together 19 nominated participants from national agencies and protected areas networks across the Central and West African region, most of whom were park managers or senior decision makers. Activities were successfully conducted in-house (theory) in Libreville, and in the field in Akanda and Ivindo National Parks, and in the TriDom transborder forest in Gabon.
This valuable experience in Gabon has advanced the BIOPAMA operations to an important next step: a regional workshop that will take place in July 2015, in Niger. The workshop will train coaches of park managers on the BIOPAMA form methodology using COMIT.
The BIOPAMA Observatory for West and Central Africa will begin national data collection initiatives in August 2015 using the BIOPAMA Form for assessment of protected area management effectiveness, tested in Gabon. With coaches trained to use the Form and the COMIT to help protected areas managers and national decision makers improve their access to data and adapt their decisions and planning more efficiently, BIOPAMA aims to have collected data from 90 protected areas by March 2016.
Sébastien Regnaut, head of IUCN’s regional programme for protected areas and IUCN’s regional focal point for BIOPAMA points out that “The partnership with the European Union and the regional and national operators has resulted in the diffusion of new tools that improve existing tools through increased adaptation to users’ needs. This is as a result of the work of a large number of local and global actors to make biodiversity data more readily available to policy makers and to the general public. In time, the efforts of the Observatory will increase collaboration between the stakeholders of conservation and increase transparency in policy making and policy application.”