Celebrating the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Three-quarters of a century ago, the peace and friendship between the United States and Canada led to creation of the world's first "Peace Park," Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. To commemorate that event, and to explore how best to manage transboundary protected areas, particularly Peace Parks, a conference will be held in September at Waterton Lakes National Park.

Since that first Peace Park was designated, more than 135 others have joined the ranks. Their mission? Bringing together people not just to protect their shared heritage but to pursue opportunities for finding peace.

Other Peace Parks include the Peace Arch Park along the British Columbia-Washington state border; La Amistad International Park between Costa Rica and Panama, and; Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, between Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

More are planned, such as one tying together Big Bend National Park in the U.S. with the Maderas del Carmen and Cañon de Santa Elena protected areas in Mexico, and another linking the United States and Russia in the area of the Bering Strait.

The upcoming conference at Waterton Lakes runs September 9-12 and is expected to attract more than 200 management professionals from peace parks and transboundary areas from throughout the world.

“This conference will provide an outstanding forum in which to share knowledge, experiences and initiatives relating to Peace Parks and transboundary protected areas and will advance the theory and practice of transboundary management globally," says Rod Blair, Waterton Lakes' superintendent. "Numerous international experts will be speaking at the event. We are proud that the Peace Park continues to play an international role in promoting transboundary protected areas.”

Down in Glacier, Superintendent Mick Holm adds that, "The peace, friendship and cooperation that inspired local Rotary clubs 75 years ago to press for the creation of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park continue today. These themes are reflected in collaborative efforts that include ecosystem monitoring, research and management, and joint interpretive programs between our two parks. Of equal importance is that the Peace Park has helped inspire similar initiatives across the globe."

Topics to be discussed during the conference include:

* Global status and trends in transboundary protected areas;

* Peace parks and conflict resolution;

* Peace parks as vehicles for international cooperation;

* Education in transboundary protected areas;

* Influence and role of peace parks and other transboundary reserves on regional economies;

* Legal mechanisms and arrangements for transboundary conservation;

* Engagement of local communities and other stakeholders in transboundary protected areas;

* Role of indigenous peoples in transboundary protected area management, and;

* Collaborative initiatives (managerial, scientific, public/private, intergovernmental and educational) and mechanisms for transboundary management.

Comments

The peace park idea continues to grow and one of its great advocates is Nelson Mandela. Peace parks in Africa are being created not just for conservation purposes but to foster reconciliation between peoples long at odds. The most exciting prospect for the future is in Korea, where conservationists worldwide, and the (South) Korean National Park Service, are eying the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) as a transboundary conservation area if/when reconciliation occurs with North Korea. Thus far, the North Koreans aren't interested in talking about it. But with most of the DMZ off limits to humans since 1953 (land mines are a factor, of course) the rare and endangered species are flourishing and the future for conservation looks bright. Good places to learn more are http://www.dmzforum.org and http://www.peaceparks.org.