MEMBER UPDATE: Learning from each other and building friendship between Asian protected areas managers
The Korea National Park Friendship Program (KNPFP), which the Korea National Park Service (KNPS) has been conducting annually since 2014, took place this year between 3 and 30 June 2018. This year, 13 protected area managers from Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Thailand – nine of whom represented Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) members – participated. The programme’s aim is to form cooperative relationships with overseas protected area management agencies, and to provide opportunities for overseas park rangers to gain firsthand experience in national park management.
2018 KNPFP participants at the final workshop © KNPS
The KNPFP began with an orientation which gave participants an understanding of Korea’s national park management system. Participants then gained field experience over three weeks in a number of Korean National Parks. These included Dadohaehaesang, which is marine; Taeanhaean, which is coastal; and the mountainous parks of Muduengsan, Seoraksan, and Woraksan. Divided into five groups, participants gained on-the-ground park management experience of a wide range of topics, including: nature and cultural park resources monitoring; endangered species and ecosystem restoration; park patrolling; local community engagement; park volunteering; natural interpretation and education; management of park facilities such as trails, visitor centers, and camping sites; and park visitor safety.
At the end of the programme, participants commented that they would like to apply the management techniques they had learned in Korea to their own national parks. Some of these techniques included monitoring techniques, wildlife corridors, Green Point, and park patrolling using drones and Intelligent Unmanned Monitoring Systems (IUMS) for park conservation. Participants also expressed an interest in setting up education programmes for local people, promoting volunteering, and establishing National Park Regional Cooperation Committees for community engagement. Many participants were also interested in improving park facilities and services, through the development of eco-tours, visitor centres, safety facilities for park visitors, trail signs and wheelchair-accessible trails.
For four years now, the KNPFP has been convening Korean park rangers and protected area managers from all over Asia to learn from one another and develop cross-regional connections. KNPS is planning to organise the Friendship Program next year as well, and welcomes APAP members to join and to share their knowledge and experience in protected area management.
Wildlife monitoring in Muduengsan National Park © KNPS
About Korea National Park Service (KNPS)
Korea National Park Service (KNPS) is a professional protected area management organisation established in 1987. It manages around thirty percent of Korea’s protected areas including 21 national parks. Guided by its vision: ‘Leading Protected Areas Management by Connecting Nature, People, and the Future’, KNPS commits its resources to achieving conservation and sustainable use of national parks, and provides support to locally-managed protected areas.