New global guidance on transboundary conservation

A new publication by IUCN aims to help transboundary conservation practitioners and those intending to become involved in initiating, managing and governing transboundary conservation programmes

Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, Montana, USA Photo: Jim Thorsell

Transboundary conservation is a process of cooperation to achieve conservation goals across one or more international boundaries. Since 1932 when the first officially designated Transboundary Conservation Area was established by Canada and USA (Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park), there has been a rapid growth of transboundary initiatives. Today, sites such as Marittime Alps-Mercantour (Italy/France), Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Angola/Botswana/Namibia/Zambia/Zimbabwe) and Manas Tiger Conservation Landscape (Bhutan/India) form part of more than 220 transboundary conservation programmes and initiatives worldwide.

The new book, Transboundary Conservation: A systematic and integrated approach, combines the most current scientific thinking with practices from around the globe and offers new understanding of transboundary conservation principles, supported by 33 practical examples reflecting a variety of situations. It is published within a Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

“One of the key elements of the new Guidelines is that they promote an array of innovative methods based on transboundary conservation practice and contemporary science, making the publication a valuable resource for all practitioners and transboundary conservation proponents,” says Lynda Mansson, Director General of the MAVA Foundation.

Much has changed since the predecessor to this publication was published by IUCN in 2001 (IUCN WCPA Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series No. 7). While these Guidelines build on that work, they also provide new knowledge drawn from the wealth of transboundary conservation practice. The Guidelines offer a revised typology of Transboundary Conservation Areas, with a definition of each type. They elaborate on transboundary conservation governance models, acknowledging a suite of informal and formal approaches that are practiced worldwide.

Transboundary conservation is often a complex process which requires careful planning, motivation and involvement of dedicated people. One of the strengths of the publication is that the ideas presented are supported by a large number of best practice examples from different regions and ecosystems, cultural norms and historical backgrounds.

“The new Guidelines provide an excellent compilation of best practices and lessons learned in transboundary conservation from all around the world. They build on these lessons and offer new perspectives which intend to help practitioners effectively and efficiently frame the entire transboundary conservation process,” said Maja Vasilijević, Chair of IUCN WCPA’s Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group and a co-editor of the publication.    

“A vast number of sites of high biodiversity value straddle international boundaries, making a compelling case for applying a transboundary conservation approach. This approach proves to be successful not only in protecting nature, but also in facilitating cooperation among different nations,” said Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel, President of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Through the guidance offered in this publication, everyone should be able to understand the values of the transboundary conservation approach, but also how to address the many challenges that can occur by working in a transboundary context.

“This renewed look at transboundary conservation, one of the great opportunities for action in this generation, will substantively complement and increase the usefulness of one of IUCN's key knowledge products—IUCN WCPA Best Practice Guidelines,“ said Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, Chair of IUCN WCPA.

Principal editors and authors of Transboundary Conservation: A systematic and integrated approach are: Maja Vasilijević, Chair of IUCN WCPA’s Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group, Kevan Zunckel, Consultant at the Zunckel Ecological & Environmental Services, Matthew McKinney, Director of the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy, Boris Erg, Director of IUCN South-Eastern Europe, Michael Schoon, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability, and Tatjana Rosen Michel, Director of the Panthera's Snow Leopard Program.

The Guidelines were published as part of a project coordinated by the Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group of IUCN WCPA and funded by the MAVA Foundation, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) through the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), and IUCN WCPA. The main collaborating institution in the development of the Guidelines was the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Significant support to the project implementation was provided by Thayatal National Park and Podyjí National Park, while about 100 experts contributed to the development of the Guidelines.

For further information or interviews:

Ewa Magiera, Communications Officer, ewa.magiera@iucn.org, +41 22 999 0346

Maja Vasilijević, Chair, IUCN WCPA Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group, maja@ekohorizont.hr

Work area: 
Protected Areas
Protected Areas
Ecosystems
Protected Areas
Location: 
West and Central Africa
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