The 2017 Annual Meeting of the International Alliance of Protected Areas (IAPA), opened Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve (NNR), Sichuan Province, China, on the 21st of October 2017. More than 130 participants from 13 countries attended the meeting. The opening ceremony of the Annual Meeting was hosted by Xingna Shen, director of Tangjiahe NNR, and featured speeches by the head of Qingchuan county, and directors from Sichuan Provincial Forestry Bureau, China Wildlife Protection Association and IAPA.
Mr. Xiwu Zhang, Member of IAPA Advisory Committee, Vice-President of China Wildlife Protection Association
This first of four days of trainings and experience sharing was dedicated to Wildlife monitoring in protected areas. 15 speakers from 8 countries (China, Indonesia, Nepal, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, Thailand) presented case studies and insights from around the world.
A large range of monitoring methods, from traditional footprint or trail observation, to infra-red camera traps, smart patrols and more modern methods such as DNA analyses, were discussed. Several monitoring case studies dealt with tiger conservation. The other species targeted included Amur leopard, Greater one horned rhinos, Pikas (a small mammal), Pandas and Alligators.
This rich day of training was an opportunity for all IAPA’s members attending the event to get to know best practices and keep an eye on the latest technological developments related to monitoring. The coffee breaks and meals were also rare opportunities to discuss with international experts and practitioners and explore concrete issues or potential partnerships in relationship with the management of each member PA.
Among the presentations from this first of three workshops (the two others deal with Sustainable Community Development and Environmental Education), some especially interesting examples can be highlighted. Research on Pikas revealed the extraordinary potential of this small mammal, in terms of environmental education and benefits to mankind through water-related ecosystem services. New statistical analyses combined to machine learning are leading to innovative use of footprint recordings to identify individual animals and their sex, with about 90% accuracy, with applications for more than 10 species, including Giant pandas. In Changqing Nature Reserve in China, camera traps are put to new uses, to record illegal human activities, and increase law enforcement, with preliminary analyses showing a decrease in harmful activities.
Photo of footprint analysis or 4 steps of circle of monitoring
One of the key message of the day was that monitoring needs to be guided by specific goals to achieve and questions to address for successful conservation. Monitoring protocols and targets need to be defined by these goals and questions (it is not necessary or relevant to monitor all species for instance) and the analysis and results of the monitoring of key conservation species or indicator species must then feed back management. Such an adaptive management loop involving management goals, monitoring, analysis and re-assessment of the goals and management measures, should be implemented by all PA.
The role of IAPA to support PA in the implementation of such effective monitoring systems is significant and several suggestions were made by participants to further increase this role. IAPA can contribute to the drafting of guidelines on monitoring best practices, trainings for PA (including through events such as this Annual Meeting), the facilitation of best practices sharing between PA and between PA and experts, the facilitation of cross-countries partnerships, etc.
Dr. Xie Yan, chief scientist of IAPA
One of the surprising wild guest the participants enjoyed meeting in Tangjiahe!