Meet the men of Pico Bonito National Park who gave PUP a chance.
In 1998 when the late director of Pico Bonito National Park, Gerardo Rodriguez (above, left) and then president of Pico Bonito National Park, Fito Steiner (above, lower right) asked RARE for help in creating a public use plan with a small fund from the Angelica Foundation, no one had any idea that the request would continue to resonate 15 years later. Not only do we owe high gratitude to these men, but we would like to think that PUP had adopted some of their extraordinary personal qualities. Pico Bonito was known in the late 1990s-2000s as an outstanding example of park management among Honduras’s protected areas because of the manner in which Gerardo and Fito ran it. Both were intrepid hikers and unflinching park guardians: no non-sense, practical, frugal, organization-first, extremely honest and upright, as well as impatient with bureaucratic loops and power games. PUP could never have survived conditions of all-expenses-paid, risk-averse bureaucratic mind-think, often characterizing other management agencies. Unfortunately Gerardo passed away in a tragic car accident in 2004. Fito still remains one of Honduras’s most outspoken conservationists. Our history will always be tied to them. See more on the PUP history starting with Pico Bonito.
Meet Pham Huong of UNESCO who made PUP possible in Vietnam.
Huong was a culture officer at UNESCO in Hanoi in 2010 when PUP was still a consultant project of the UNESCO World Heritage Center. When it arrived in Vietnam, Huong was the one who guided it through its first project working with UNESCO sites. It worked simultaneously with Hoi An Ancient City, My Son Sanctuary, and Cham Island Biosphere Reserve, all of which used participatory planning for the first time to create public use plans. Because of the project’s success in introducing participation into this Communist country’s tradition of top-down planning, numerous other World Heritage sites have asked UNESCO for assistance. In 2013 and with the support of German KfW, UNESCO and the PUP Consortium have teamed up again to work in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park and carried out an exploratory trip. As of 2016, Huong works in the International Labor Organization in Hanoi and has become a PUP advisor.
Meet Jon Kohl who founded the PUP Global Heritage Consortium.
Jon (www.jonkohl.com) began working with RARE Center for Tropical Conservation (www.rareconservation.org) in 1997 as a bilingual nature guide trainer in Honduras. A couple of years later, the President of Pico Bonito National Park, Ricardo Steiner (see above) asked Jon for help in creating a public use plan. Little did he know that the small request would change his life and fifteen years later lead to the creation of the PUP Global Heritage Consortium. What started as a project of RARE, then become an ad hoc project of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center, and then became its own organization and a book about what we have learned along the way. See a brief history of PUP.