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Future directions in parks management

Mt Rob Roy reflected in a tarn on French Ridge, Mt Aspiring National Park. Photo: Gavin Lang

Mt Rob Roy reflected in a tarn on French Ridge, Mt Aspiring National Park. Photo: Gavin Lang

NZAC Sustainability Advocate Shane Orchard recently attended the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney.

Last November the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress was held in Sydney and included a strong contingent from New Zealand. The ten-yearly event included a mind boggling eight days of presentations across 12 themes, plus many other side events. The world’s latest thinking on protected areas management was debated and new directions were explored.

After all the talk was finished, the key findings converged around the conclusion that protected areas of different forms might be one of the best investments for the planet. A big part of this relates to the many useful ‘services’ that protected areas are known to provide alongside their important role in conserving nature. Alpine and mountain topics featured prominently in many of the sessions, especially in the themes of human health and wellbeing, responding to climate change, and world heritage. All are very relevant to New Zealand mountain areas and what we do in them.

As with the other themes, the focus of the congress was on the forward-thinking, positive things we can do to secure the future of parks and their benefits. This is a solution-oriented take on parks management and it is hoped that some years down the track people will look back at the Sydney congress as a ‘rallying point’ to make progress on the tough issues ahead.

In terms of tangible results, there’s now a synthesis of key strategies and lots of case study solutions for parks management available through links on the congress website which make interesting reading, see In the near future, expect to see much more in this line elsewhere in the IUCN network,, and especially through the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). It seems that protected areas can offer effective solutions to some of the world’s most challenging development problems. However, in this world of change, views on parks may become increasingly contested. That’s why understanding their benefits is more important now than ever before.

by Shane Orchard

This article first appeared in The Climber issue 91. You can view the full issue at

Posted: 30/08/16

Posted By: Kester Brown