The Wilderness Society
|Mr Hockings (centre)|
Conservationists and a team of environmental managers led by a University of Queensland expert are working to preserve endangered habitats of animals ranging from mountain gorillas in Uganda to Bengal tigers in South Asia.
Leading a world-first project to assess 10 high-risk wildlife areas internationally is Marc Hockings.
He is a senior lecturer in environmental management at the University of Queensland Gatton and Vice-Chair of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas.
Working with site managers and academics from the UK and Costa Rica, Mr Hockings is assessing management practices and developing monitoring systems for the areas, many of which are threatened by poachers, tourism, development and civil war.
Mr Hockings said the project would help ensure treasured natural wonders were managed effectively, with decisionmakers able to more clearly identify management problems and direct scarce resources.
"This project helps sites develop a systematic approach to evaluating the effectiveness of their current management and to design appropriate ongoing monitoring and management assessment programs to better conserve the values of these areas," Mr Hockings said.
"The next step is to put more extensive monitoring programs in place to address the gaps in our knowledge."
The project includes the Royal National Park Chitwan, at the foot of the Himalayas, home to Bengal tigers and single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros, and the tropical rainforests and glaciers in Latin America's Sangay National Park listed as in danger by the World Heritage Centre.
An assessment of park management has also been undertaken for the Aldabra Atoll and its giant tortoises, about 700km east of the African mainland, and an assessment is being completed for the Serengeti in Tanzania, home of one of the largest remaining migrations of wildlife in the world.
A major area of concern is the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in Uganda, home to nearly half of the world's population of mountain gorillas.
"We are looking at where management is working well, where it can be improved and how to further tackle issues like the problems caused by civil war and impacts of surrounding land use," Mr Hockings said.
The four-year, $US2 million project involves leading conservation bodies including the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the IUCN.
The United Nations Foundation (UNF) funded the project, which also includes Africa's Greater St Lucia Wetlands; Kaziranga and Keoladeo National Parks in South Asia; and Canaima and Rio Platano National Parks in Latin America.