April 2008 (9:9)

Issue PDF archive: PDF icon MPA95.pdf

Ecosystems and their wildlife do not recognize political boundaries. Therefore, in many cases, management must take transboundary conservation into account. Efforts to achieve conservation across national borders are often described in the context of pursuing ecosystem-based management.

But transboundary conservation can yield other benefits, too. This month, MPA News examines the use of MPAs across borders to improve international relations. Whether designated explicitly as part of a peace process between nations, or as a way to broaden an already-friendly relationship between neighbors, marine peace parks offer a means of promoting cooperation and better conservation.

What is a peace park?

In discussions of protected areas across borders, multiple terms are often encountered: transboundary protected areas, transfrontier conservation areas, peace parks, and so forth. Often practitioners use these terms interchangeably. For the purpose of this article, MPA News will generally do that as well.

IUCN defines "parks for peace" as:

"Transboundary protected areas that that are formally dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and to the promotion of peace and cooperation."

Referring to a site as a "peace park" does not necessarily imply that the nations involved were previously in conflict. As a case in point, the site generally considered to have been the first peace park is the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, designated in 1932 by traditional allies Canada and the US. Rather, a transboundary protected area contributes to a culture of peace and cooperation between nations, as explained by Anne Hammill of the International Institute of Sustainable Development and Charles Besançon of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. In an essay published in the 2007 book Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution (MIT Press), Hammill and Besançon suggest a transboundary protected area can play any of the following geopolitical roles:

  • Acting as a symbol of ongoing cooperation between nations with a history of peace;
  • Creating an entry point for discussions between neighboring countries that may be deeply divided over economic, social, environmental, or other interests;
  • Increasing security and control over resources in border areas so that their rightful owners can benefit from them;
  • Creating shared opportunities for ecotourism and sustainable development ventures on a region-wide scale, an important step in post-conflict reconstruction; and
  • Developing a rich and resilient web of relationships among protected area managers from the countries involved, other government actors, local and international NGOs, and the donor community.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has tallied the number of transboundary protected area "complexes" currently in existence, both terrestrial and marine. According to UNEP, there are 227 of these (see www.tbpa.net/tpa_inventory.html). Some of the complexes are enormous, consisting of dozens of individual protected areas. One complex that features the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, for example, is considered by UNEP to include 80 protected areas among the countries of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico. At this scale, the term "peace park" may become less applicable: in these large complexes, not every one of the individual protected areas may have been designated with transboundary cooperation as a specific goal.

There are several transboundary MPAs designated expressly to further international cooperation and conservation. The Wadden Sea International Protected Region - consisting of multiple MPAs and other managed areas in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands - is a leading example of ecosystem-based management (MPA News 8:4). The 100,000-km2 Pelagos Sanctuary for cetaceans in the Ligurian Sea requires cooperation among France, Italy, and Monaco (MPA News 5:3). The Eastern Tropical Pacific Corridor initiative, including portions of the EEZs of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama, is another example (MPA News 7:4). The Southern Ocean, managed as an enormous protected region by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, is one more.

In terms of existing for the specific purpose of furthering peace, however, the foremost example in the marine realm might be in the Red Sea.

Red Sea Marine Peace Park

The term "peace park" applies quite literally to what Israel and Jordan have designated in the northern Gulf of Aqaba, a semi-enclosed sea shared by these nations. As part of their peace treaty signed in 1994 to normalize relations, Israel and Jordan developed the bi-national Red Sea Marine Peace Park (RSMPP), embodying two existing MPAs: Jordan's Aqaba Marine Park and Israel's Coral Reef Reserve in Eilat. The designation of the RSMPP called on the nations to partner in research efforts on coral reefs and marine biology, and implement comparable policies and regulations to protect those reefs.

This resulted, in 1999, in launch of the RSMPP Program - a full partnership between resource management agencies and marine research institutions in Jordan and Israel. Facilitated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Program aimed to provide resource managers of both countries with scientific understanding of the basic physical, chemical, and biological processes in the Gulf of Aqaba, and the impacts of human activities on those processes. Study teams and management teams from the respective national agencies participated in joint meetings and workshops twice a year or more, sharing information, coordinating activities, and discussing trends. The cooperative research, for example, determined basic water circulation patterns affecting the RSMPP, and initiated a long-term monitoring initiative for basic coral reef ecosystem parameters. All data from the monitoring have been entered into an open database of Program-related information. (For a full description of the RSMPP Program, including lessons learned, go to www.cnps.org.tw/park-03/WPC-EA4-2002/2%20Session%20B/B01.pdf.)

The RSMPP has no budget, per se. Instead, each country funds its own component of the RSMPP. Aqaba Marine Park, for example, is 90% funded by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, a Jordanian statutory institution. The remaining funds for the site are generated by various user fees in the park, such as from registration and the testing of air tanks for diving.

Notably, the two individual sites are not contiguous: the no-take Aqaba Marine Park is 17 km from the Jordan/Israel border. But they share common natural resources (including nearly 1000 species of fish) and are affected by the same environmental stresses. Both Jordan and Israel are promoting the northern Gulf of Aqaba as a tourism destination center, with water projects and other coastal infrastructure developments accelerating the regional growth rate, causing various environmental impacts.

"If the RSMPP had not been established, the Aqaba Marine Park (AMP) would not be what it is today," says Abdullah Abu Awali, the marine park's manager. "The RSMPP Program had a significant role in establishing the AMP management plan, and several regulations and guidelines suggested by the RSMPP have been implemented by the AMP. These regulations and guidelines have promoted and encouraged environmentally sustainable use of natural inter-tidal resources, and ensured long-term economic benefits."

Korea Marine Peace Park

Lessons from the RSMPP, as well as from various terrestrial peace parks, are being applied in efforts to establish a marine peace park on the Korean Peninsula. In 2005, the South Korean government issued a Presidential Executive Order to initiate a marine peace park with North Korea in the countries' disputed western sea. Although the initiative would be unilateral for the time being - prepared with no input from the North Korean government - it was intended to help ensure the goal of sustainable and peaceful development in the region, symbolized by the "3 Ps": protection of ecological integrity, peace, and economic prosperity.

Unlike on land, where the Koreas have a 4-km-wide, heavily-fortified demilitarized zone to keep people from crossing, their sea boundary has no physical barrier. However, the countries' respective navies and coast guards regularly confront each other in the region, and there is disagreement over where the boundary lies. There have been two naval gunfights between the Koreas in the western sea. And as recently as 28 March 2008, the North Korean government fired several missiles off its west coast amid growing tensions between that country and the new South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak. Since its inauguration in February 2008, the Lee government has taken a hawkish stance toward North Korea compared to the government of former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

The change of government in South Korea is affecting prospects for a marine peace park. Much has seemingly changed since 2007, when the second inter-Korean Summit (involving the Roh administration at the time) resulted in a Joint Declaration featuring a series of cross-border cooperation projects. Among these was the official designation of a Special Peace and Cooperation Zone (SPCZ) around the disputed western sea border. "The SPCZ is the core of the Joint Declaration," says Jungho Nam, who manages the Korean marine peace park project at the Korea Maritime Institute in South Korea. Although negotiations on the SPCZ focused on economic and political issues (e.g., designating a joint fishing area and establishing a special economic zone) and not on ecological protection, Nam says it could still provide a framework for eventual institution of a Korean marine peace park (the "MPP Korea"). "One of the SPCZ's core elements is the sustainable development of the region," he says. "The SPCZ is a cornerstone for developing and promoting the MPP Korea."

Despite the legal and institutional bases for cooperation established last year, it is unclear whether President Lee's administration is interested in promoting and furthering the Declaration, or even the 2005 Presidential Executive Order on the MPP Korea. Nam says there are other challenges, too. "Because North Korea has a strong interest in economic development and securing capital, they are normally prone to choosing development-oriented projects rather than taking a balanced approach to development and conservation," he says. "And considering the policy of the new South Korean administration, political support will be given to the development sector here as well. Many developers, construction companies, and local governments in the coastal area want to take benefits from sand mining, reclamation projects, and other construction projects."

To address these challenges, the Korea Maritime Institute has suggested principles for promoting the MPP Korea. "First, a non-political approach led by experts should be highlighted," says Nam. "The political relationship between the two Koreas is getting worse, and in this situation politicians may hesitate to promote the initiative. Progress can still be made, however, by individuals who have done research in the area. From my understanding, even when the political situation and inter-Korean relations have been at their worst, contacts and meetings through expert groups have still occurred."

Second, says Nam, building partnerships with international and regional bodies is important. "Securing international support for the MPP Korea could contribute to spreading the importance of the initiative with international societies, and creating an environment for involving North Korea in establishing the marine peace park," he says. "North Korea is a member of international and regional programs, especially environmental ones. These could function as a bridge for making the inter-Korean relationship closer." The MPP Korea project has organized and facilitated an international advisory group composed of multiple institutions and initiatives, including UNESCO, IUCN, the GEF Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem Project, and the UNEP Northwest Pacific Action Plan. The project has also hosted a Jordanian RSMPP official to share his peace park experiences, and has had colleagues visit other transboundary MPAs around the world.

Third is to be patient, says Nam: it will take time to raise social awareness and support for the MPP Korea project. "We've suggested a three-track approach for the establishment of the MPP initiative," he says. "National, inter-Korean, and international coordination and cooperation."

For more details on the MPP Korea initiative, download the 66-page report "Toward Establishing the Marine Peace Park in the Western Transboundary Coastal Area of the Korean Peninsula" (2007, Korea Maritime Institute) here.

For more information

Abdullah Abu Awali, Aqaba Marine Park, PO Box 2565, Aqaba 77110, Jordan. E-mail: abuawali [at] yahoo.com

Jungho Nam, Korea Maritime Institute, KBS Media Center Bldg., #1652, Sangam-Dong, Mapo-Gu, Seoul, 121-270, Republic of Korea. E-mail: jhnam [at] kmi.re.kr

For an 18-minute DVD on the MPP Korea project, e-mail Jungho Nam.

BOX: Types of transboundary protected areas

Following the World Parks Congress in 2003, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas established a Global Transboundary Protected Areas Network to promote biodiversity through peaceful cooperation across borders (www.tbpa.net). That network has defined several different types of transboundary protected areas:

  • Two or more contiguous protected areas across a national boundary.
  • A cluster of protected areas and the intervening land or water.
  • A cluster of separated protected areas without including the intervening land/water.
  • A trans-border area including proposed protected areas (such as when a transboundary initiative starts with protected areas in one country or region, with the hope of extending protection across the border).
  • A protected area in one country aided by sympathetic land/water use over the border.

BOX: Candidate sites for marine peace parks and transboundary research

In a 2002 paper on lessons learned from the Red Sea Marine Peace Park, a team of managers and researchers from Israel, Jordan, and the US suggested that several other marine sites worldwide could benefit from similar transboundary efforts. Their recommended sites:

  • Eastern Caribbean Island states
  • Gaza/Jordan/Israel on the Mediterranean coast
  • Pakistan and India near the Indus River delta region
  • Former republics of Yugoslavia on the Adriatic Sea
  • Greece and Turkey on Cyprus
  • The Pratas Island/Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea

The paper, "The Red Sea Marine Peace Park: Early lessons learned from a unique trans-boundary cooperative research, monitoring and management program", by Michael Crosby, Bilal Al-Bashir, Mohammad Badran, Samir Dweiri, Reuven Ortal, Michael Ottolenghi, and Avi Perevolotsky, is available at www.cnps.org.tw/park-03/WPC-EA4-2002/2%20Session%20B/B01.pdf.

BOX: Publications on peace parks and transboundary protected areas

Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution (2007). Edited by Saleem H. Ali. MIT Press. 432 pp. Cost: US $29, although a free version can be accessed on Google Books (books.google.com)

Security Considerations in the Planning and Management of Transboundary Conservation Areas (2004). By David Peddle, Leo Braack, Thomas Petermann, and Trevor Sandwith. 40 pp. Cost: Free (www.tbpa.net/docs/pdfs/SecMan/SecMan1.pdf)

Transboundary Protected Areas for Peace and Co-operation (2001). By Trevor Sandwith, Clare Shine, Lawrence Hamilton, and David Sheppard. IUCN. 111 pp. Cost: Free (www.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/PAG-007.pdf)

The Peace Parks Foundation, based in South Africa, has supported southern African governments in the development of 10 peace parks (www.peaceparks.org). In doing so, the Foundation has played many roles, including facilitating planning processes, managing community consultations, and training park managers, among other tasks. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is a founding patron of the Foundation.

Willem van Riet is Vice-Chairman, International Relations, of Peace Parks Foundation. MPA News spoke with him about the peace park concept and how such parks differ from "regular" protected areas.

MPA News: What distinctions, if any, do you draw between peace parks and transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs)?

Van Riet: The 1999 Southern African Development Community Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement defines a TFCA as "the area or component of a large ecological region that straddles the boundaries of two or more countries, encompassing one or more protected areas as well as multiple resource use areas". The underlying principle of a TFCA is to promote collaboration in the management of shared natural resources along international boundaries.

A TFCA becomes a transfrontier park once the international treaty establishing the park has been signed. It denotes cooperation in the management of contiguous protected areas. Collaboration in managing shared natural resources complements the goals and objectives of various international conservation conventions and can be used as vehicles for advancing regional economic integration while promoting peace and stability.

That said, Peace Parks Foundation normally uses the terms peace park, TFCA, and transfrontier park interchangeably.

MPA News: How is the planning of peace parks different from the planning of "regular" protected areas?

Van Riet: The challenges unique to peace parks are related to cross-border issues. While sovereignty is never affected, the international border(s) between the partner countries soften to allow locals, tourists, and animals free movement within the parameters of the park. While not without difficulties, this is an extremely positive process, as the partner countries are in a sense forced to meet far more regularly than before to discuss issues of mutual concern. This brings about good neighborliness and regional peace and stability.

The way this is carried out in practice is by setting up working groups overseen by a technical committee, which in turn is operational under the ministerial committee as soon as the Memorandum of Understanding toward the establishment of the TFCA has been signed. The signing of the international treaty establishing the transfrontier park effectively transforms the technical committee into a joint management board and the working groups into management committees. These new, permanent management committees deal with conservation; safety and security; finance, human resources and legislation; and tourism. Facilitating the process is an international coordinator, which the partner governments (assisted by Peace Parks Foundation) usually appoint soon after the MoU signing.

MPA News: Does the marine realm pose unique challenges to the creation of peace parks?

Van Riet: Yes. In southern Africa, these challenges include poaching of abalone resources and the destruction of beaches by 4x4 off-road vehicles. However, as is the case with terrestrial peace parks, these issues are far more effectively addressed on a cross-border or regional basis. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers for the Environment are, for instance, considering developing a protocol for the region to manage or regulate 4x4 activities on the region's beaches. [The SADC consists of 14 nations: www.sadc.int.]

The first marine peace park with which the Foundation has been involved is the Lubombo TFCA between Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland. A crucial step in protecting the resources of Lubombo, Africa's first coastal and marine TFCA was designated in May 2007 with the appointment of a marine protected area manager to the Maputo Special Reserve and Ponta do Ouro area in Mozambique. An exciting first outcome of this has been a cross-border turtle monitoring program whereby data are being collected for the entire Maputaland coastline, from St. Lucia in South Africa to Santa Maria in Mozambique. This collaborative project between Maputo Special Reserve, Peace Parks Foundation, the Mozambican Marine Turtle Working Group (consisting of public and private sector entities, as well as local communities), and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in South Africa will result in the first report defining the status of turtle populations along this entire strip of coastline, as well as management recommendations.

For more information

Willem van Riet, Peace Parks Foundation, Millennia Park, 16 Stellentia Ave, PO Box 12743, Die Boord, Stellenbosch 7613, South Africa. Tel: +27 21 887 6188; E-mail: wvanriet [at] ppf.org.za

In October 2007, Russell Reichelt was named the new chairman and CEO of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), overseeing one of the world's largest and best-known MPAs. Previously he had served as CEO of both the CRC Reef Research Centre and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and was formerly chairman of Australia's Fisheries Research and Development Corporation.

Reichelt is faced with leading GBRMPA through a challenging period, addressing significant threats to the long-term health of the Great Barrier Reef. MPA News asked him how he viewed his park's role in the greater MPA community, and what his plans are for managing the park.

MPA News: What roles does the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority see itself serving in the global community of MPAs?

Russell Reichelt: GBRMPA is continually striving to achieve best practice. The Park sits within a World Heritage Area that adds additional international obligations. We have a program of active engagement with the international community through intergovernmental relationships, such as the World Heritage Committee and other broader partnerships such as the International Coral Reef Initiative. GBRMPA contributes to these groups the lessons it has learned, but also benefits tremendously from our partners' experiences.

MPA News: Can you describe your philosophy for governing GBRMPA?

Reichelt: Our primary goal is the long-term protection of the Great Barrier Reef through the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. My management philosophy is to establish clear goals, ensure commitment from all major stakeholders (especially the Australian Government), and establish strong accountability mechanisms so we know whether we are succeeding in our efforts to achieve the goal. GBRMPA cannot achieve its goal without close partnerships with the Queensland Government and the major user groups who operate or live in the Great Barrier Reef region and its catchments.

MPA News: What do you see as the main challenges facing the marine park in the next 5 years, and the next 50 years?

Reichelt: The main challenges for the GBR Marine Park in the next five years are the effects of climate change, especially heat-induced coral bleaching events and the decline in coastal water quality that is reducing the resilience of the ecosystem.

In the next 50 years, I expect at least a doubling of the population of one million people along the coastline adjacent to the Marine Park. This will lead to steadily increasing pressures from coastal development and risks to water quality and loss of critical habitat such as wetlands and seagrasses. It will also lead to rising levels of conflict between sectors that compete for use of the Park.

MPA News: How will GBRMPA address these challenges?

Reichelt: Cooperation across jurisdictions and among stakeholders will be very important. Commercial and recreational fishing, marine tourism, indigenous hunting, recreational boating, ports and shipping are all important and valid uses of the Marine Park. I expect GBRMPA to pursue new partnerships and cooperative arrangements to minimize resource use conflict in this contested seascape.

Apart from better capacity to broker productive relationships, I expect GBRMPA to focus on improved knowledge systems, especially synthesis and sharing of knowledge. This will be critically important in developing new policy and management arrangements, and also in developing transparent, visible accountability mechanisms such as the forthcoming "Outlook Report" for the Great Barrier Reef, which is due in 2009. [For more information:www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/about_us/great_barrier_reef_outlook_report.]

MPA News: Will the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park look different in 50 years?

Reichelt: It is inevitable that mass bleaching events will cause changes, but I am hoping the Great Barrier Reef will still be a beautiful tropical marine ecosystem as it is now. There are no detailed forecasts of either bleaching impacts or resilience to bleaching so any comment on how the park will look is guesswork. I expect changes in the pattern of biodiversity and age structure due to bleaching events in the same way that the Crown-of-Thorns starfish outbreaks in the central third of the park have encouraged the faster-growing corals such as Acropora. There are healthy populations of herbivorous fishes throughout the park, and efforts are underway by the fisheries managers to bring effort on top predators (fish and sharks) under control. I am hopeful that present efforts to improve water quality will bear fruit and the current decline of inshore reefs will stabilize or reverse. Forecast impacts of acidification in longer timeframes (centuries) are not good. As Charlie Veron says in his new book, A Reef in Time (Harvard University Press, 2008, p. 231): "With immediate global action now to drastically reduce CO2 emissions, there will come a time when the crisis has passed. The Great Barrier Reef, although scarred, will come through whatever lies ahead and once again be the place it is now."

For more information

Russell Reichelt, GBRMPA, PO Box 1379, Townsville, Queensland 4810, Australia. E-mail: russell.reichelt [at] gbrmpa.gov.au

Proposals requested for symposia at IMPAC2 and International Marine Conservation Congress

Organizers of the Second International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC2) and the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) are now accepting proposals for symposia and workshops at the joint event, to occur 20-24 May 2009, in Washington, DC, USA. IMPAC2 will serve as a track within the larger IMCC.Proposals for symposia will feature a specific group of speakers on a topic, for a session to last 2.5 hours. (Note: this is not to be confused with submissions of individual oral presentations, which will be requested later this year.) Proposals for workshops will be task-based, convening people to pursue a particular goal such as developing recommendations or outlining a publication. Proposals for symposia and workshops must be submitted via a link on the IMCC website (www.conbio.org/IMCC) by 1 June 2008.

Survey to help shape future of WCPA-Marine

MPA practitioners worldwide are invited to shape the values, goals, and programs of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas - Marine by participating in an online survey. Open through 30 April 2008, the 25-question survey will be used to prepare the final version of organization's Plan of Action, to be launched at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona this October. To participate, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=LR8LIVKgJbi4uURtvk0nYw_3d_3d.

US releases revised draft framework for national system of MPAs

The (US) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior have released a Revised Draft Framework for Developing the National System of Marine Protected Areas. The document is open for public comment, with a recently extended deadline of 16 May 2008. It addresses comments from the public and the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee on the first draft of the Framework, published in September 2006.

The revised draft outlines key components of the national system, including: a set of overarching national system goals and priority conservation objectives; MPA eligibility criteria and other definitions; a nomination process for existing MPAs to be included in the national system; a science-based public process for identifying conservation gaps; and a process for improving regional, national and international coordination. The document and instructions for submitting comments are available at www.mpa.gov.

Guidebook for locally managed marine areas

A new book offers step-by-step guidelines to help coastal communities and conservation partners plan and maintain locally managed marine areas (LMMAs). The guidebook is published by the LMMA Network, an initiative to help LMMAs in the Western Pacific benefit from the collective experience of their practitioners. In many Pacific Island nations, contemporary marine protection efforts are being blended with traditional conservation practices through a process of community-based adaptive management (CBAM). The outcome is now commonly described as LMMAs. These normally involve some form of protected area.The publication is structured around four general phases: initial assessment; LMMA design and planning; implementation of CBAM; and ongoing CBAM. Although it is aimed at a Pacific Islands audience, the book may offer useful guidance to communities elsewhere who are working to manage their local marine resources. The 70-page Locally-Managed Marine Areas: A Guide to Supporting Community-Based Adaptive Management is available at www.LMMAnetwork.org.

Report available on high seas governance workshop

An October 2007 workshop in New York City on high-seas governance, particularly the protection of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, is summarized in a report from IUCN. The international workshop focused on environmental impacts of various human activities, opportunities for coordination among states, the potential role of area-based management tools (MPAs), and ways to address regulatory and governance gaps. The report Workshop on High Seas Governance for the 21st Century is available in PDF format atwww.globaloceans.org/highseas/pdf/IUCNWorkshop2007.pdf.