Two key decisions related directly to the Regional Observatory for Protected Areas component of BIOPAMA in the Eastern and Southern Africa region are in the making and will guide programme activities over the next three years – the Action Plan for the Capacity Building Programme linked to the Regional Observatory and the option paper identifying suitable hosts for the Observatory in the region.
The Capacity Building Programme (CBP) Action Plan, developed by the southern Africa Endangered Wildlife Trust, will be based on the general theme of land use competition/conflict as one of the major threats to protected areas in the region, therefore also focussing on the value of protected areas and their engagement with other sectors. This theme was identified as a priority for capacity building from various assessments, as well as the input received from participants at the BIOPAMA Regional Workshop. In addition to specific capacity building activities, the CBP will also support networking of training centres in the region. The CBP aims to ensure more cohesiveness amongst training centres that offer protected area-related courses, diplomas and degrees for various levels of PA staff, as well as strengthening of the link between training providers and users.
The housing of the Regional Observatory poses another important decision for the BIOPAMA programme, as it intends to provide a link between protected areas information and decision-makers (local, national, regional and global). In the Eastern and Southern Africa region, there are several initiatives that collate and provide information and tools for decision makers. A consultant will investigate how the various arrangements function, as well as their link to decision-makers, with a particular focus on how functioning and linkage relate to protected areas information/tools and decision-making. At the conclusion of the study, information and applications from relevant institutions in the region will be solicited to allow the IUCN/JRC partnership to make a final decision on an appropriate hosting format and host institution for the Regional Observatory.
Moving forward, the decisions are expected to be finalised in August or September 2013. Negotiations with potential host institutions with then begin, along with implementation of activities in the capacity building programme.