Protected areas now have a multitude of functions and are designed and managed based on these. Traditionally protected areas were strictly controlled by the government with little consideration of local communities, which was known as the 'fines and fences approach'.
New directions for the management of protected areas have emerged from the Parks Congresses in Caracas (1992) and Durban (2003). These congresses emphasised the importance of recognising the rights and knowledge of local communities and indigenous people, along with the need for integrating protected areas into a larger conservation framework, with the capacity for management enhanced by strengthened partnerships.
This, along with a shift in focus of conservation to a more participatory approach has lead to the development of a varity of different strategies for the management of protected areas, largely defined by the level of goverance.
The 2003 World Parks Congress identified four main protected area governance types:
In these areas, the conservation objectives and management plans are controlled and enforced directly by a government body, which has direct responsibility and accountability for protected area management. In many countries, although the objectives are set at a federal or national level, the day-to-day management is delegated to the sub-national and municipal level. The resources contained within the area are usually under direct ownership of the government, and in some cases full land ownership is retained. The daily management of the area can then be delegated to private managers, the community, or NGOs.
The co-management of protected areas is highly complex as a variety of stakeholders either formally or informally share management authority and responsibility. Stakeholders can include government agencies, NGOs, local communities or the private sector. An area can be co-managed through a variety of forms, ranging from “collaborative” management, whereby the decision-making and responsibility lies with a single agency (required by law or policy to incorporate other stakeholders), to 'joint' management, whereby a variety of stakeholders have decision-making authority. This form of management is particularly suited to complex situations, such as that of transboundary protected areas controlled by at least two separate governmental jurisdictions, but can be limited in its effectiveness depending upon consensus among the participants.
In some cases, land privately owned by individuals, cooperatives (such as a whole community), corporate bodies, or NGOs is set aside for conservation purposes. This can be for economic reasons, such as for benefit from tourism, or out of a wish to conserve the natural state of the area. Conservation objectives are determined by the landowner, as are the plans for the management of resources, as long as actions are in line with any relevant legislation. There is little public accountability, unless parameters for use are negotiated with other parties. There has been a large proliferation in the number of such protected areas over the past century, largely due to financial incentives for individuals to set aside land, along with a realization of the conservation benefits that can be gained from private land attracting funding from charitable contributions or NGOs, and the growth of corporate responsibility. At the governmental level, there is also a realisation that privately conserved land can be effective without requiring governance and a diversion of funds and resources.
Community Conserved Areas, more recently known as Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs), are areas in which the natural and cultural resources are managed by local communities and indigenous people for ecological, cultural, and economic benefit. This can be organized in a variety of ways, depending on the cultures, traditions, and communities involved and those in charge of management often have no governmental recognition or authority. There are some cases, however, in which the communities are given official status as a local authority, sometimes with tenure rights. The community usually has only limited accountability to society, but this can vary depending on any co-management arrangements that may exist. Recognition of CCAs was enhanced by the IUCN World Parks Congress and the 7th COP to the CBD; which recognized the need to acknowledge the role of indigenous peoples in conservation measures, including explicit instructions for parties to take action in developing CCAs by 2008.
These four governance types have been related to the IUCN protected areas categories in a matrix developed by Borrini-Feyerabend (2007).
Borrini-Feyerabend, G. (2007). The "IUCN protected area matrix": A tool towards effective protected area systems. IN “Defining Protected Areas: An international conference in Almeria, Spain May 2007”. Paper presented to IUCN-WCPA categories summit, Andalusia, Spain May 7-11. p.148-155.
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