Though the national park movement is more than a century old, efforts are ongoing to support that movement and enhance the protection of national park lands globally. Recently the National Park Service bolstered those efforts by agreeing to work with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on the support of parks and other protected areas world-wide.
As the first step under that agreement, the Park Service has agreed to send David Reynolds, the agency's Northeast Region chief of natural resources and science on a 40-month project to "help develop globally recognized professional standards for park rangers, managers and park system executives."
“David’s work will help build capacity for the IUCN Global Programme on Protected Areas,” Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a release announcing the partnership. “He will rely on his 33 years with the National Park Service and connections within the international community to write standards so that park and protected area staff will be true and effective professionals with the capacity to do their jobs under often difficult circumstances.”
During the coming years, the relevance of protected areas will be a significant subject of discussion through IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in 2012, the IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014 and ongoing discussions in the Convention on Biological Diversity. Mr. Reynolds will conduct his work from Medford, N.J., with occasional travel to parks and protected areas and training centers around the world.
“We are absolutely delighted with this support from one of our IUCN member organizations”, said Trevor Sandwith, director of IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas. "Capacity development is one of the key requirements for national governments to manage their protected area systems effectively.
"David will take responsibility for working across IUCN’s regions, themes and commissions to build competent protected area professionals and institutions. We hope this will lead to a globally recognized professional qualification in protected area management and ultimately to protected area systems themselves as being certified as being managed at the highest professional levels.”
The new assignment is a return to his earliest days in the international work for Mr. Reynolds, who worked "in parks in West and Central Africa in the Peace Corps in the mid-1970s." The chief actually began his Park Service career in the agency’s International Affairs Office back in 1978, and he's remained involved with international assignments over the years.
“I have to come up with tools to measure results. Many of these countries don’t have the financial resources of the United States and Canada; some don’t even have the computers most of us find as a basic tool in our jobs," said Mr. Reynolds. "So the trick to this project will be to develop something that is flexible enough to meet the needs of individual employees working in parks and protected areas in different countries and still set high professional standards so that training centers around the world can develop their own curricula.”
In addition to this pioneering work on capacity development for management effectiveness, IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas is focusing on a core set of priorities that includes climate change, the role of equitable governance and benefit-sharing, sustainable finance and investment, and above all, communicating at global and local levels that protected areas really do work.
IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.