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Local governments and protected areas barborak and sever


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  • 1. The changing role of municipal governments in the protection of biodiversity and natural areas Jim Barborak* and Cat Sever Center for Protected Area Management and Training Colorado State University *Member, World Commission on Protected Areas IUCN / WCPA and Cities and Conservation Specialist Group, WCPA
  • 2. Municipal governments already play a vital role in conserving natural heritage
    • Local park systems conserve unique species and ecosystems; many are in biodiversity hotspots
    • Local governments increasingly control land use planning and regulation in many countries
    Image: Central Park, New York City, New York; photo by brooks215; courtesy of
    • Local governments manage thousands of protected areas and millions of hectares
    • Municipal protected area (PA) systems often receive more visitors than national/federal systems
    • Municipalities are investing in turning stream corridors, brownfields and landfills into parks
  • 3.
    • Form corridors and buffers for national/regional PAs
    • Provide environmental services vital to growing urban populations, particularly water and outdoor recreation
    • Are important sites for
    • environmental education
    • Play a role in fighting the obesity crisis and improving physical and mental health of urban populations
    • Often combine natural and cultural values
    • Help protect against natural disasters (landslides, flash floods, etc.)
    Image: São Paulo, taken from Pedra Grande in the Cantateira State Park - the most visited State Park in Brazil; photo by Glen Hyman The importance of municipal protected areas
  • 4. Traditionally, the role of local governments in green issues in many nations was limited
    • Weak fiscal autonomy, dependence on central government transfers
    • Land registries, taxing and planning managed by central governments
    • Local governments focused on "brown" issues in environmental departments
    • Limited citizen involvement in decision making
    • Most urban parks infrastructure-intensive for active recreation, playgrounds
    • Highly centralized governments
    • Limited human, institutional capacity
    • Lack of dedicated funding sources
    • Little focus on green infrastrucure
    Image: Hampden Park in Eastbourne Borough, U.K.; photo by Mark Hansen; courtesy of
  • 5. There has been much reform in the past 2 decades
    • Legal and institutional frameworks changing—local elections, greater acceptance of the subsidiary principle, more public participation
    • Local governments with more revenue and authority for land registration and valuation, property taxing land use planning
    Image: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, Japan; photo by Jacky Sen; courtesy of
    • Professionalization of staff, particularly in large urban municipalities
    • New protected area and municipal governance laws require local authorities to consider green issues
    • Greater local government and urban population concern for urban and peri-urban biodiversity conservation
    • Municipalities of all sizes are active in PA planning and management
  • 6. The situation continues to change ...
    • Co-management of protected areas by sub-national authorities and civil society now accepted in many countries
    • Bilateral and multilateral donors support these trends
    • Creation of environmental departments and municipal systems of protected areas is a growing norm
    • Promotion of local environmental strategies/Agenda 21
    • More than 50% of the world’s population now lives in cities (
    Image: Tiergarten Park, Berlin, Germany; photo by beedubz; courtesy of
  • 7. Promising examples
    • Over 1400 local nature reserves in England
    • Regional government supports municipal parks in Risaralda, Colombia
    • Perth Biodiversity Project supports local governments in natural areas management
    • Inclusion of municipal PA management categories within recent legislation and constitutions in several countries, such as Ecuador
    • Array of examples in major urban centers of the Atlantic Rainforest region of Brazil (Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, etc.)
    • In Guatemala, creation of regional parks by municipalities
    • Co-management of PAs by local governments, NGOs in Honduras
    • 38 per cent of Hong Kong has been designated as country parks
    • Expanded role of municipalities in PA management committees world-wide
    Image: Perth, Australia and city parks; photo by Allan; courtesy of
  • 8. Promising example: Cape Town, South Africa Image: Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town; photo by Glen Hyman
    • “ A coordinated and integrated approach to conservation and biodiversity from a citywide perspective across line functions;
    • Biodiversity goals based on citywide biodiversity targets;
    • Equitable distribution of, and access to, biological wealth;
    • Improved and redistributed benefits to disadvantaged communities arising directly from the conservation of biodiversity;
    • Participative, open, and transparent approaches to conservation of biodiversity, rather than restrictive ones;
    • Creative approaches to protection and enhancement of biodiversity;
    • Partnerships with external and donor organizations”
    (Katzschner et al. 2005. The City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Strategy. In Ted Trzyna, ed., The Urban Imperative. California Institute of Public Affairs, Sacramento, California). The City of Cape Town’s Biodiversity Strategy strives to introduce a paradigm shift, including:
  • 9. Promising example: Sanjay Gandhi National Park The Lungs of Mumbai
    • Among the largest urban parks in the world and surrounded on 3 sides by Mumbai, India’s most populous city
    • Its many lakes contain 8% of Mumbai’s municipal water supply
      • Lakes are managed by Bombay Municipal Corporation
      • Park is administered by State Forest Department
    • SGNP has rich biological, hydrological, historical, recreational, educational, and spiritual values
      • Over 800 species of flowering plants and 4 forest types
      • Sizable populations of mammals, including many big cats, reptiles, butterflies, amphibians, invertebrates, and birds
    • Management of encroachment and human-wildlife conflict requires cooperation and collaboration between park and city
    Image: View of Mumbai from, a small zoo within SGNP; photo by Himanshu Sarpotdar; courtesy of Image: SGNP is green area in north of Mumbai; map by Arun Ganesh; courtesy of Image: Place Holder for woman on lion safari; currently obtaining permission for use
  • 10. Promising example: The Mountains to Plains Project, Colorado, USA
    • The Laramie Foothills-Mountains to Plains Project is a collaborative land protection effort between willing landowners, city (Fort Collins) and county (Larimer) authorities, The Nature Conservancy, Legacy Land Trust and Great Outdoors Colorado.
    Image: Red Mountain Open Space; photo by Rick Price; courtesy of Larimer County Natural Resources Department
    • Land protection in this culturally and ecologically diverse landscape, have protected 20,000 ha
    • Corridor links to much larger national forests, grasslands and parks and wilderness areas to the east and west
    Image: Laramie Foothills-Mountains to Plains Project; courtesy of the Fort Collins Master Naturalist Program
  • 11. Promising example: Xochimilco, Mexico City Image: Xochimilco Canals In Mexico City; photo by Vixander; courtesy of Image: Cows grazing in the Parque Ecol ó gico de Xochimilco; photo byJflo23; courtesy of Image: A farmer weeding his crops on one of Xochimilco's remaining chinampas; photo byJflo23; courtesy of
    • Located 28 km south of city center
    • Agricultural, historical, cultural and biological values
  • 12.
    • Inter-county management of New York’s Catskills
    • Successful national-local government co-management models in Ecuador (Cuenca and Cajas NP) and Brazil (Tijuca NP, Rio de Janeiro)
    • Growing interest in scenic routes and trail systems (San Cristobal, Mexico) and Hong Kong
    • In Panama City, the creation of Curund ú Metropolitan Park
    More promising examples Image: Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; photo courtesy of Image: Delaware River in New York’s Catskills; photo courtesy of the Catskill Association for Tourism Services Image: Cajas National Park in Ecuador, near Cuenca; photo by Delphine Ménard; courtesy of
  • 13.
    • Local and regional protected areas often form corridors or buffer national PAs
    • Local parks provide environmental services vital to a growing urban population, particularly water
    Protected areas managed by local governments complement the role of national governments
    • They are important outdoor laboratories for environmental education
    • They are used for outdoor recreation by growing urban populations
    • They preserve unique species and ecosystems
    Image: City park near Melbourne’s Central Business District, Australia; courtesy of
  • 14.
    • National and regional governments should support local initiatives and allow local governments to play a greater role in the management of national protected areas
    • Multilateral, bilateral and private donors need to provide more support to local government protected area systems
    The role of other actors
    • Municipalities need to help each other through their own national and regional associations
    • International, national and local NGOs can partner with municipalities as well as play a role in "monitoring"
    • Municipalities can promote improved private land management through PES payments, easements, TA
    Image: Central Park, New York City, New York; photo courtesy of
  • 15.
    • Continue to improve the legal framework:
      • Environmental and municipal clauses in constitutions
      • Laws on environmental service payment systems
      • Laws that enable local governments to create and manage their own PA systems and comanage others
      • Laws that make water users pay costs of watershed management
      • Land use planning codes and ordinances
      • Laws regarding private reserves and easements
    • Create model municipal natural areas
    • Strengthen role of national, regional governments in providing funding and TA to local government for conservation programs
    Image: Khoroshevsky Forest Park, Moscow, Russia; photo by Vladimir Fofanov; courtesy of
  • 16.
    • Strengthen individual and institutional capacity of municipal environmental departments; create them where they do not exist
    • Accept merit promotion and continuity in office and depoliticize the technical bodies of municipalities
    • Reform tax and fee policies to create incentives for conservation on private land in municipalities: PES, payments for mitigation, biodiversity offsets; appropriate municipal service rates
    More recommendations
    • Complete cadastral studies of tenure, and prepare and implement land use ordinances and plans
    • Control squatting on and degradation of peri-urban natural areas
    • Make urban natural areas user-friendly to a wide cross section of society to strengthen public support
    Image: City park in Utrecht, the Netherlands; photo by Timo Balk; courtesy of
  • 17. Image: Ramsar Wetland near Guayaquil, Ecuador; courtesy of Ministry of Environment, Ecuador Thank you! Gracias! Mercí! [email_address] For more information, please visit the websites of: IUCN WCPA Cities and Protected Areas Specialist Group Larimer County Natural Resources Department /laramie_foothills.htm Center for Protected Area Management and Training Natural England: