Twenty three park rangers obtained their Bachelor’s Degree in Protected-Areas Management, taught by the Universidad para la Cooperación Internacional (UCI for its Spanish acronym). Asociacion ProParques sponsored their scholarships which were accepted by the university and by the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC for its Spanish acronym).
These graduates come from 9 of the 11 conservation areas of the country and the study program was especially designed to provide them with a comprehensive training to administer a national park or a national reserve. This offers a dual benefit of promoting a specialized management of the protected areas which at the same time will benefit visitors and the surrounding communities.
During the graduation speech, UCI’s Secretary General, Franklin Marin, highlighted that a modern vision in the management of protected areas emphasizes the continuous interaction with the neighboring communities. This interaction creates synergies that favor higher welfare levels for all community members while contributing to the parks’ long-term sustainability.
A Public-Private Partnership
In addition, Rocio Echeverri, Executive Director of ProParques, underlined that this achievement was made possible thanks to a public-private partnership that was established to bolster the formal training of the administration of protected areas.
“This partnership brought together SINAC’s efforts, on behalf of the public sector, along with the ones developed by us as a non-governmental organization and the UCI, to provide a practical and effective answer to the needs of our protected areas, which is ProParques’ commitment”, stated Echeverri.
An outcome of this partnership is that all graduates benefited from a grant from ProParques equivalent to 80%, UCI sponsored 10% so the park rangers only paid 10% of the cost. For its part, SINAC allowed them to participate in field trips and also paid for some travel expenses.
This is because each of the modules and courses of this study program incorporated a face-to-face component that was adapted to the working schedules of the park rangers and was carried out in different national parks and conservation areas. The program also offered a virtual phase given the type of job of the students as it requires them to remain one or two consecutive weeks in the park where they work.
Fabio Arias, one of the graduates, stated: “the continuous support that was offered to us by ProParques, UCI and SINAC was crucial to achieve this goal and this encourages us to continue giving our best to this national treasure, the protected areas”.