Learning about the U.S. experience with protected area management

Learning about the U.S. experience with protected area management
In September, the U.S. Forest Service International Programs hosted a U.S.-based program on
protected area management for
conservation leaders from the five
Central Asian Republics:
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan,
Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The
group visited National Forests in
Colorado and New Mexico, the
Rocky Mountain National Park, the
Rocky Mountain Research Station,
and a Collaborative Forest
Restoration Project at the Ohkay
Owingeh tribe in New Mexico.
There was lively discussion and
debate on all of the topics: protected area management; tourism and recreation management;
conservation education; partnerships and community engagement; forest restoration and fire
management; and integrating scientific research in protected area management. These issues
are critical because of the region’s exceptional potential for recreation opportunities. The
offerings include steppe, grasslands, and desert to alpine forests, lakes, and tundra. In addition
to this wide variety of ecosystems and landscapes, there is a high-level of biodiversity and
endemism. The region is home to 540 bird species, and unique plants and animals including
ancient fruit and nut forests, the snow leopard, the saiga antelope, the Bukhara deer, and
Marco Polo sheep.
The program participants identified ideas for future cooperation with the Forest Service and
strategies applicable to their home countries. In particular, the participants are eager to improve
recreational opportunities in Central Asia’s protected areas and were enthusiastic about
integrating many of the practices observed here such as engaging volunteers, developing
conservation education materials, and forging productive partnerships between private sector
and civil society organizations.