Support Capacity Development in Eastern and Southern Africa, Says WCPA Regional Vice Chair, Moses Mapesa

20 February 2013

The IUCN WCPA Capacity Development Programme’s purpose is to deliver technical support to national governments to meet their protected area objectives and support governments to meet their commitments under the CBD PoWPA and Aichi Target 11. I call on WCPA members in Eastern and Southern Africa to play a more active role in supporting this programme.

The long term goal of the Programme is to leave a legacy by enabling countries and regional centers to provide the majority of protected area capacity development needs to their region’s protected area professionals. The short term goal is to build a protected area capacity development programme that will be fully launched at the November 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia.In Africa, a current active force in the Programme which WCPA members can contribute to is the BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Area Management) Programme. Already WCPA members have contributed to capacity needs assessments in the region. Focus has been on identification of capacity building gaps for decision-making for protected areas.

At the Eastern and Southern Africa BIOPAMA regional workshop held in South Africa in December 2012, the emphasis was on interventions targeting key stakeholders in the decision making processes which impact protected areas. Discussions therefore focused on the major threats to protected areas and those involved in decisions that influenced these threats. The discussions yielded two major threats: land degradation/habitat loss (including infrastructure development) and illegal/unsustainable resource use. 

In assessing gaps in capacity building for decision makers, emphasis was placed on areas or needs that are key to addressing current critical threats to PA management and achievement of Target 11. The current critical threats to PA management identified include: climate change, budget cuts and constraints in challenging economic times, increasing human populations and development adjacent to PAs resulting in continued conflicts, extractive industries, including mining, oil and gas, land claims and encroachment by local communities making landscape connectivity more difficult, and unsustainable harvest of resources, including poaching. 

Effective governance cuts across all efforts to address most of the critical threats to good PA management. Therefore the governance level (senior management and policy making organs) which often receives less attention in capacity development programmes should be a priority. At the International Ranger Federation Congress in Arusha, Tanzania in November 2012, a workshop session on capacity development facilitated by the WCPA Regional Chair for Eastern and Southern Africa resulted in a number of participants strongly recommending capacity development efforts focus on PA CEOs and Directors, and Directors and Permanent Secretaries of the line ministries. At the BIOPAMA workshop, WCPA members came to a similar conclusion. 

The Protected Area Capacity Development Programme has several components which include sharing of knowledge products (such as books, journals, best practice guidelines, technical briefs and an e-book on managing protected areas), education and training where emphasis is on competency based training and learning (already a draft curricula based on competencies has been developed for the three levels of PA management namely field, managers and systems/strategic/policy managers), and sharing/access to expertise within the WCPA but also the other IUCN commissions.

WCPA members in the region are therefore being called upon to play an active role in implementation of the Capacity Development Programme by participating in curriculum reviews for training institutions for PA managers and field staff, making time for mentorship programs, on-the-job training through exchange visits and study tours, and contributing to training tools. I invite members to do this by expressing interest and sharing ideas with me. Please contact: Moses Mapesa, Regional Vice Chair,

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