I am glad that Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt reviewed the book Transboundary Protected Areas: The Viability of Regional Conservation Strategies (Goodale et al 2003) in the last issue of MRD. Mountain transboundary protected areas—if they truly have collaborative or joint management—are important vehicles for effective management of those cultural, biological and physical resources that are no respecters of political lines on a map, or guards at a border. They can also promote reduced tension and conflict—and even peace—as is the case with Peace Parks. Unfortunately of the 169 transborder complexes, the vast majority are simply abutting PAs, with little effective cooperation between them.
Unfortunately, as the reviewer points out, only some of the book chapters deal with mountain situations, and many deal only with community-based conservation rather than transboundary protected areas (TBPAs). Nonetheless, the book is a valuable contribution.
I cannot let the reviewer's statement stand that “the first major publication on this topic was Transboundary Protected Areas for Peace and Cooperation (Sandwith et al 2001),” even though I am a co-author of that work. His statement does not recognize the pioneering work of others who laid the groundwork for the current renewed interest in TBPAs.
Probably the first publication grew out of a workshop in 1988 in Vancouver, Canada, organized by Jim Thorsell, who has been instrumental in advancing this concept. It resulted in Parks on the Borderline: Experiences in Transfrontier Conservation, edited by him and printed in 1990 as IUCN Protected Area Programme Series No 1. The second publication appeared in 1993 as Transfrontier Reserves for Peace and Nature: A Contribution to Human Security, edited by Arthur H. Westing and published by UNEP. This was followed by one emanating from a mountain workshop that I co-organized in the Australian Alps in 1995. The workshop focused on the issue of cooperation across boundaries, bringing pairs of mountain park managers from all continents, and produced Transborder Protected Area Cooperation (Hamilton et al 1996, published by IUCN and Australian Alps National Parks).
Meanwhile IUCN's European Region produced an action plan in 1994: “Parks for Life”. This identified among other items a Priority Project 22 on transfrontier protected areas. It listed 42 abutting complexes (10 of them in mountains), and suggested 9 mountain locations for future possibilities. This action plan gave rise to two “early on” meetings organized by Jan Cerovsk? and the Czech Ecopoint organization, and two more publications: Transboundary Biodiversity Conservation (1995) and Transboundary Protected Areas in Europe (1996).
Following the IUCN, World Commission on Protected Area's “Parks for Peace Conference” in South Africa in September 1997, there came a special issue of the PARKS journal (Vol 7, No 3, 1997) devoted to Parks for Peace, as well as a little-distributed volume of Proceedings, edited by David Sheppard. And finally, in 2000, the UNESCO–MAB National Committee of Poland printed a book Biosphere Reserves on Borders, reporting on 8 case studies (6 of them mountains).
All of these predate the Sandwith, Shine, Hamilton and Sheppard publication of 2001, referred to by Vogt as “the first,” and are presented to show the evolution and growing support for TBPAs. Since mountains often form country or state boundaries, mountain TBPAs are particularly important in promoting harmony and peace across what are frequently borders having tension or even armed conflict. How wonderful if a step forward in the Kashmir could be taken by a Siachen Glacier Peace Park, or if the current Demilitarized Zone (a de facto nature protected area) between North and South Korea could be converted into at least a 4 km by 246 km linear TBPA!
12 April 2004