World Commission on Protected Areas

Transboundary Conservation

The IUCN WCPA Transboundary Conservation Specialist Group is the premier global network of transboundary conservation experts, consisting of more than 250 members coming from a variety of institutions and sectors.
IUCN/Boris Erg, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Specialist Group Leader


Kevan Zunckel

Its mission is "to promote and encourage transboundary conservation for the conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values while promoting peace and co-operation among nations, through enhancing knowledge and capacity for effective planning and management of transboundary conservation areas, in fulfilment of the Durban Action Plan and CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas."

The Specialist Group is governed by a dedicated team of 15 people in the Executive Committee, consisting of 2 Co-Chairs, 3 Vice Chairs, 2 Senior Advisors, and 8 Regional Coordinators. The Executive Committee is responsible for the strategic guidance of the Specialist Group, promotion of transboundary conservation and the Group’s work, as well as for recruitment of new members.

What is transboundary conservation?

Ecosystems across the globe are divided by political boundaries. So they are exposed to many different policy, legal and institutional structures, management and governance regimes; they are affected by various social, cultural and economic contexts and systems; and they are sometimes impacted by complex relations between countries. Transboundary conservation has emerged as a practical way to overcome these differences and is considered as a process of cooperation to achieve conservation goals across one or more international boundaries.  

WCPA promotes three types and one special designation of Transboundary Conservation Areas:

Type 1: A Transboundary Protected Area: a clearly defined geographical space that consists of protected areas that are ecologically connected across one or more international boundaries and involves some form of cooperation.

Type 2: A Transboundary Conservation Landscape and/or Seascape: an ecologically connected area that sustains ecological processes and crosses one or more international boundaries, and which includes both protected areas and multiple resource use areas, and involves some form of cooperation.

Type 3: Transboundary Migration Conservation Areas: wildlife habitats in two or more countries that are necessary to sustain populations of migratory species and involve some form of cooperation.

Special designation: A Park for Peace is a special designation that may be applied to any of the three types of Transboundary Conservation Areas, and is dedicated to the promotion, celebration and/or commemoration of peace and cooperation.

Khahlamba Drakensberg  Park in South Africa, Maja Vasilijević

Today, there are more than 200 examples of transboundary conservation initiatives in which cooperation ranges from informal agreements to government-to government treaties. The value of transboundary conservation includes ecological benefits alongside enhanced socio-economic resilience and strengthened political relations.

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