Identifying Knowledge Needs of Conservation Practitioners in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia on Protected Area Finance
Keywords:Protected area, financial capacity building, Delphi Technique, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia
AbstractWhile multiple studies have identified the general knowledge needed by protected area and conservation administrators, relatively little is known about specific knowledge needs in the area of finance, especially at the protected area and system levels. This deficiency motivated us to explore the knowledge needs of conservation professionals responsible for financing protected areas (PAs) and national protected area systems (NPASs) in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. A modified, Internet-based Delphi Study was conducted in 2007-08. A panel of experts with financial management experience at the national system and/or protected area level(s) from Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia was identified. Thirty-one protected area financial management experts agreed to participate in the Delphi process, which involved three rounds. In round one, panel members who held finance oriented positions in national, regional, or local government, in non-governmental conservation organizations, international organizations, or in private consulting enterprises and had experience in the countries studied were asked (1) to define financial funding mechanisms and (2) to identify the knowledge they perceived was needed to put such tools into practice. The panel, generated information was used to construct a composite definition of finance and financial funding. In round two, this definition was shared with the panel members and they were asked to critique it and to rank and rate 10 financial capacity building thematic areas that were also identified in round one. In the third and final round, experts were requested to identify barriers they believed would constrain protected area system administrators and unit managers from obtaining such capacities. Findings suggest differences in training needs between central office-based system level administrators and field-based protected area managers should be considered in the design of finance capacity building programs for conservation finance professionals. Barriers to implement capacity building programs not only included expected training-oriented barriers (e.g., staff lacking basic knowledge, lack of knowledgeable instructors, lack of time for professional training) but also institutional structural barriers (e.g., high rate of turnover of financial management staff, lack of commitment to increase staff competency) as well as process- and policy-oriented barriers (e.g., different methodologies to administer funds across units and lack of coordination among non-governmental and governmental institutions with respect to financial issues). Results suggest that both targeted capacity development programs and changes in institutional structures/processes are likely to be required to successfully improve financial operations and funding mechanisms for PAs and NPASs in the countries studied.
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