Capacity Building to Enhance Protected Area Management Effectiveness and Wildlife Conservation in the Asian Context

Protected area and wildlife managers are faced with complex challenges that demand understanding of both social and ecological attributes. Major challenges to protected areas include overharvest of natural resources for commercial purposes, inappropriate adjacent land use, agricultural encroachment, infrastructure development, and invasive species. Promoting the resilience of threatened species and ecosystems is equally complicated by issues such as habitat fragmentation, climate change, and growing costs to communities experiencing conflict with wildlife. To respond to these threats, professionals must overcome significant barriers, including inadequate funding, lack of planning, insufficient monitoring/evaluation, and lack of political support and solid leadership. Another frequently cited barrier is the perceived lack of training among managers in both biological and social sciences. Expertise is often lacking in areas such as natural resource management and planning, research, monitoring and evaluation, leadership and decision-making, visitor management, conflict resolution and stakeholder involvement, fundraising, outreach and partnership development, and the ability to account for characteristics of local populations in management decisions. In response to the need for capacity building in these areas, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Colorado State University (CSU) entered into a formal partnership in 2008 by signing an International Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the technical competencies and leadership skills of conservation professionals in India and the US. This poster presents the WII-CSU partnership as a model framework for multi-institutional collaboration to enhance conservation effectiveness in the Asian context. Case studies highlighting successful research, training, and outreach initiatives will be provided to demonstrate the innovative approaches being applied by WII and CSU to address contemporary conservation challenges.

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