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Nov 30, 2004

Protected Areas receive business advice

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While substantial grants from abroad are helpful to get projects off the ground, recent history has shown that long term success can only be achieved by self-sustaining local funding. And that’s exactly the goal of a project being inaugurated by PACT.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The business plan initiative is the brainchild of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust. Grants Programme Officer Jose Perez says that with protected areas finding it increasingly difficult to tap into sustainable funding, they must look more closely at their own operations to create income.

Jose Perez, PACT Grants Programme Officer

?This initiative basically looks at organisational efficiency or effectiveness, cost efficiency and opportunities for revenue generation. In no way it will be identifying any strategies, which will include the possibility of privatisation or anything like that. It is merely looking at the financial sustainability of parks. Over the last fifteen years protected areas on a whole and especially throughout developing countries, have been significantly under funded.?

Implementation of the business plan pilot project is being carried out at a cost of two hundred and seventeen thousand dollars with PACT contributing the bulk of the funding. It is targeting Laughing Bird National Park, managed by Friends of Nature in Placencia and the Blue Hole National Park on the Hummingbird Highway, managed by the Belize Audubon Society. The resulting data collected from the project will be used as a model for other protected areas.

Jose Perez

?What has happened over the last couple of years is that a lot of the organisations have focussed on developing management plans. Management plans, yes identifies the strengths, weaknesses around the natural attributes of protected areas. However, it does not address the financial sustainability aspect of a protected area. And as I said these days, these organisations are struggling. It?s like merely hand to mouth in respect to keeping their staff.?

On Wednesday and Thursday representatives of protected areas organisations will take part in workshops to discuss the concept of business plans. On Friday, the consultants from the Centre for Park Management in the United States will move to Placencia to commence work at Laughing Bird Caye National Park.

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