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The intent of the scientist–authors in Making Parks Work is to lay out strategies for managing parks (shorthand for “protected areas.”) This book is the outcome of a session by conservation professionals to determine how we can protect biological diversity in the 21st century. These researchers wrote 32 chapters that give a broad view of ecological (and financial) park management, considering policy for parks at three levels: that of the individual park and national and international policy.

The book’s title is too modest. The lessons of success and failure that are presented can guide the protection of natural areas worldwide, because management strategies in tropical parks—where biodiversity is high and challenges to conservation immense—address broad questions of conservation everywhere. How can parks work at the present and in the future in the face of underfunding, population pressures, social instability, and lack of enforcement? Parks work if they are designed and managed skillfully. One book that addresses the issue of design of protected areas is Continental Conservation: Scientific Foundations of Regional Reserve Networks, by Michael Soulé and John Terborgh (Washington, DC: Island Press, 1999). Park management, which is the other half of the challenge, is addressed by Terborgh and his fellow editors in Making Parks Work.

John Terborgh is James B. Duke Professor of Environmental Science and Biology in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Terborgh, a tropical ecologist, conducts research in the Manu National Park in Peru. Coeditor Carel van Schaik is a professor of biological anthropology and anatomy at Duke. Terborgh and van Schaik codirect the Center for Tropical Conservation, which is located at the university. The two additional editors are Lisa Davenport, graduate student at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and Madhu Rao, associate conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo, New York City.

In the early chapters, conservation workers present case studies that are based on fieldwork in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. They analyze how tropical parks have dealt with civil war, agricultural encroachment, illegal logging, commercial hunting for the bushmeat trade (i.e., supplying restaurants with meat of wild animals), underfunding, and corrupt politicians. Specialists will welcome the management particulars that are provided in the country overviews. For example, in West African parks, hunting of large animals rather than destruction of habitat is the greater destructive force to parks (p. 68). In the Congo Basin, logging facilitates access to the parks for illegal hunting, invasion by exotic species, nonsustainable harvest of medicinal plants, and water pollution from mining (p. 76). Researchers point out specific management strategies that have an impact on nature conservation. However, not all strategies work: In many locales, attempts to reconcile development with conservation have not succeeded and, unfortunately, have attracted settlers to move near or into parks. Some strategies do work: in Ranomafana National Park in Madagascar, increased tourism and research generate funds for the park and for its neighbors.

Ivory poaching and the replacement of native forest with oil palm plantations differ mostly in detail from parallel threats that parks face in temperate regions—monoculture tree plantations or poaching of black bear for their gall bladders, for example. The need to garner support from local people, to inform politicians of the biological role of parks, and to attain funding are the shared goals of managers in temperate as well as tropical parks.

Case studies in Latin America follow the African section. Brazil, for example, balances its promise to expand national parks, ecological stations, and biological reserves to 10 percent of that country’s territory with the reality that many Brazilian parks currently are “paper parks” (i.e., unmanaged). In southeastern Peru, the National Sanctuary Pampas del Heath (SNPH) was created by the national government to protect the maned wolf and marsh deer. SNPH endured a rocky existence as a paper park until it was absorbed into the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. Some of the difficulties encountered by SNPH management included turf struggles between federal and local officials and opposition by the park’s neighbors to logging and hunting prohibitions. Meanwhile a Peruvian nongovernmental organization managed the park, with the support of The Nature Conservancy’s Parks in Peril (PiP) program. The PiP program approach is to incorporate the neighboring indigenous communities into the management structure of the park, which has helped to overcome some of these adverse attitudes.

In the case study of Costa Rica, the book asks whether the Monteverde Reserve Complex has succeeded in preventing cattle pasture from displacing primary forest. The answer is yes, thanks to skillful management. Costa Rica is a mecca for researchers and ecotourists, because it protects tropical forest in private and public parks nationwide. Monteverde has lost about 30 species of amphibians within two decades. This loss is most likely due to increasingly longer dry seasons, a facet of global climate change. Preserving biodiversity in Costa Rica rests on three actions: acquiring wildlife corridors between parks so as to add more habitat types (table 12-2), enforcing park laws fairly, and expanding reserves to ensure that big predators, such as jaguars and harpy eagles, have a sufficiently large area to survive. Jeff Langholz’s analysis (chapter 13) of privately owned parks and his case study of these in Costa Rica are particularly timely in view of the current funding crunch for publicly owned protected areas in the United States.

What role does ecotourism play in making parks work? When ecotourism works best, it provides some funds to preserve tropical nature, but national and international subsidies may be required as well. One of the most successful examples of ecotourism is a rain forest park in Madagascar that is blessed with a rich assemblage of endemic fauna and flora—Ranomafana National Park. The golden bamboo lemur, discovered in 1986, and other lemur species drew 12,000 ecotourists to Ranomafana in 1999. What management techniques engendered this success? One technique is to use trained local guides to lead tourists on a rain forest trail, where up to eight lemur species can be observed during a morning’s walk. United States and Malagasy university advisers prepared Malagasy park staff in conservation biology and research techniques. Local villagers manage ecotourism, patrols, ecological monitoring, and administration, and the park entrance fee is split 50:50 between local villagers and the park.

Following these case studies, major themes that address conservation strategies for protected areas are admirably organized on three levels: individual parks (enforcement, ecotourism, human–wildlife interaction, land tenure), national (political will, private initiatives, political stability), and international (financing, biodiversity as a global responsibility). “The various constituencies … [of protected areas] must be informed, educated, awarded benefits, or arrested at gunpoint, as appropriate,” as Srikosamatara and Brockelman argue on p. 229. The tables in part III, where appropriate tools for park management are arrayed, are a helpful resource.

Most of the 28 black-and-white figures are adequate. A few have infernally minute type (e.g., figure 14-1) or too-similar fill styles (e.g., figure 30-1). I would have welcomed a size scale beside the maps of Costa Rica (figure 12-2) and Sumatra (figure 15-3), as well as a world map. Therefore, the reader may wish to have a world atlas nearby while using Making Parks Work. Those who are inspired to implement these strategies for preserving nature will be pleased by the voluminous references and the handy directory of the international cast of contributors.

The only known way to protect ecosystems is to create and preserve protected areas. A zoo may protect elephants from ivory poachers. A botanical garden may protect a medicinal plant from nonsustainable harvesting. But only parks and highly motivated humans can preserve ecosystems. The chapter entitled “Why the World Needs Parks” (by Terborgh and van Schaik, pp. 3–14) should be required reading for all. As the editors intended, this book presents a variety of success stories of parks management fresh from the frontlines. The “principles for effective management of protected areas” are in an easily readable form for managers of protected areas, park rangers, government officials, grant agency personnel, and all who nurture Earth’s beleaguered parks.

KARLENE SCHWARTZ "TROPICAL NATURE PRESERVATION," BioScience 53(4), 435-436, (1 April 2003).[0435:TNP]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 April 2003

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