Inspiring Support for Protected Areas through Communication, Education and Public Awareness Programs

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One of the most important determinants of conservation success within protected areas is the extent to which local communities understand and support the protected area management objectives. Communication, education and public awareness programs are critical to achieving this understanding and inspiring support.
Encouraging people to change their perceptions and behaviors requires an approach to communication, education and awareness that goes well beyond simply posting signs or distributing brochures. Effective communication is more than simply a park agency transmitting and receiving information with community members; it is about changing perceptions and behaviors and inspiring conservation actions

In February, 2004, 188 countries ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas, an ambitious set of activities aimed at establishing and maintaining comprehensive, effectively managed and ecologically representative national and regional protected area networks. One of the major goals of the Programme of Work on Protected Areas is to strengthen communication, education and public awareness efforts. Specific activities outlined in this goal include:

• Establishing education and public awareness programs

• Identifying core themes for education, awareness and communication programs

• Strengthening information mechanisms directed at target groups

• Developing mechanisms for dialogue and information exchange 

• Incorporating protected areas as an integral component of school curricula 

• Establishing mechanisms to evaluate the impacts of communication, education and public awareness programs

Despite the importance of communication, education and public awareness programs to the overall effectiveness of protected areas, communication programs are all too often an afterthought in protected area management. Park managers and staff typically have a poor understanding of how to build local awareness and support.As a result, communication programs are among the first to be cut in times of budget constraints.
Governments, NGOs, and local leaders need tools and approaches that will help them to inspire and motivate community members. The purpose of this Quick Guide is to outline an approach for protected area practitioners and conservation planners that can be used to inspire support and action among communities and decision makers that leads to more effective protected areas.

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Date CreatedThursday, May 31, 2012 6:03 PM
Date ModifiedThursday, May 31, 2012 6:03 PM
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