PUP has begun an exciting new phase of engagement. We are now incorporated as a non-profit organization with bylaws, a Board of Directors, Officers, a Coordinator, Advisors, and various kinds of Members – Yeah! These formal structures reflect our deep resolve to pursue our Mission and our practical need to be well organized for action. As our first Board Chair I feel a bit like a young lad walking amidst some very tall trees, amazed by the scope and depth of the PUP colleagues around the world. We are a passionate, diverse group of talented individuals in a rising network of planners, interpreters, researchers, educators and conservators. Together we are making progress and we are poised for significant global impact in natural settings, national parks, historic sites.
I wish to extend my personal appreciation to Jon Kohl and Stephen McCool as we all celebrate the release of their new book, The Future Has Other Plans: Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage (see below for more on the book). This landmark publication captures both the foundational values of our Consortium and the practical PUP approaches to Public Use Planning and Implementation. Please buy two copies – one to read and one to give away!
Please visit us at www.pupconsortium.net/network/general-members; become a member of the PUP Consortium and help shape the movement of holistic conservation across our precious planet. We still have time — Act now.
Be well, do good work and stay in touch…we are just a keystrokes away!
No Longer Alone on the Journey to Transform the Global Heritage Paradigm
When I first created the Public Use Planning Program in Honduras in 1998 while working with RARE Center for Tropical Conservation, I knew that I was taking on a huge question whose answer could echo around the globe: Why do management plans so often end on shelves unimplemented? Though I was only 28 years old, without any formal planning background, and only a year out of grad school, I felt confident in this task to answer this big question because I had not only RARE behind me but soon in 2000 I also had UNESCO/UNEP/UN Foundation as well as PUP became part of a larger three-year program between RARE and these entities to demonstrate the value of sustainable tourism to the conservation of World Heritage Sites. We worked in varying degrees in six World Heritage Sites in Mesoamerica and Indonesia.
In 2003, however, the project ended and RARE shifted its emphasis to other areas beyond tourism and park management. In fact, that shift included laying me off. Thus, at still a young age, I didn’t have a job, salary, and perhaps, most important of all, no one had my back to confront this massive question that no one else in the heritage field seemed interested in asking. In my post-layoff depression, I also felt lonely on this journey to answer the big question. But I persevered and in 2006 two great things happened to propel the journey forward: 1) I began to write a book with Dr. Stephen McCool (a founding board member of PUP) which was published last December and 2) I and the floating PUP effort were hired by Art Pedersen (now a PUP advisor) at UNESCO’s World Heritage Center to develop its approach around the world.
Both led to the birth of the PUP Consortium in 2013. Now with 2016 recently behind us, I am truly elated and honored by the number of people who have joined the mission of the Consortium and continue to join us as board directors, country representatives, and other members. The mission to transform the global paradigm in heritage management and planning is compelling. The greatest heritage in the world need it badly especially in a rapidly changing climate, both politically and meteorologically.
In early 2017 we open our general membership program and I only expect many more people to join us as they realize that no other organization in the world takes on the question of how we transform the paradigm from a top-down, science-dominated approach that excludes community constituents to a holistic, science-supported, community-driven approach that includes constituents motivated to commit their resources, time, contacts, and support to seeing the plan’s and the Consortium’s vision come true.
Fire Island National Seashore
Founding PUP member the Consensus Building Institute (represented by Stacie Smith) and PUP director Jon Kohl have teamed up with the US National Park Service (NPS) to innovate a more participatory form of Long Range Interpretive Planning (LRIP) at the Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) on Long Island, New York. LRIPs have long been the tool at the NPS to record interpretive themes and media recommendations for the medium and long-term. But they are often done by both internal and external consultants and have had questionable impact and implementation in many areas. The Northeast Region of NPS has interest in creating a new form of generating these plans. Simultaneously FINS has just finished a long management planning process that engaged all parts of their community and the LRIP, they hoped, would continue the participatory precedent.
Combining the public engagement and dispute resolution experience of Stacie Smith with the interpretive planning of Jon Kohl made for an excellent team to imbue interpretive planning with greater community involvement. The project will continue until April 2017.
Interpretive Training in Honduras
Starting in 1997 at RARE Center for Tropical Conservation in Honduras, PUP’s experience in interpretive guide training is one of the most extensive in the world. In 2016 PUP finished up its most advanced interpretive training. The project funded by USAID/ProParque and in collaboration with the Honduran government (Forest Conservation Institute) worked with guides and managers from three national parks and a wildlife refuge to develop their capacity to use interpretation to strengthen their visitor offerings and tie their participation to park management.
The project lasted some eight months and include two principal phases interspersed with technical support. The first phase in Cerro Azul Meambar National Park involved a 12-day workshop on basic interpretation which focused on transforming the vision of participations from conventional to interpretive guiding, as well as the basic tools of a professional interpretation. The course included both guides and public use coordinators based on the assumption that the coordinators too had to learn how to use interpretation in order to take advantage of its virtues.
The second workshop was about interpretive planning and advanced interpretive techniques which took place in Gracias. The goal of both was to generate market-ready interpretive products which the park teams are still working on. This program a big advance on past efforts due its more holistic nature. It focused not just on technique but vision and not just traditional objective evaluations, but delved into the psychology and mind of each participant to help them overcome their internal barriers and conflicts in pursuit of a new paradigm.
Public Use Planning in Chagres National Park, Panama
Chagres National Park lies just outside of Panama City and supplies 40% of the water to the Panama Canal. The PUP Consortium and member CATIE-Panama won the call for proposals by the International Development Bank’s ECOTUR project to work with the Ministry of Environment to develop a public use planning process in the park. While initial negotiations began in 2015, the actual planning did not start until 2016. The objective nonetheless was to support a local planning team comprised of park stakeholders to develop the plan rather than the conventional consultant-driven model that leads plans to office shelves, unimplemented.
The project included three PUP Consortium members including Director Jon Kohl, Advisor Allan Rhodes, and technical service member Lucia Prinz.
The project generated lots of lessons learned about how to write up a planning contract terms of reference so that participation, ownership, and implementation are promoted.
Integrated Situation Analysis
In 2015 PUP’s Jon Kohl and member Consensus Building Institute’s Merrick Hoben with support from Stacie Smith offered two webinars to CBI staff about using Integral Theory and Systems Thinking to offer more holistic site assessments based on Merrick’s work in the Bajo Aguan, Honduras this year. The webinars evolved into a proposal to create an Integral Site Assessment for both organizations. PUP and CBI allied with Integral Without Borders, The Donella Meadows Institute (at the time a PUP member), and the Honduran Network for Natural Private Protected Areas to carry out a pilot project in one of its member sites. The proposal was submitted to MetaIntegral Foundation’s annual funding competition. The project won $2,500 in 2016 with the possibility of additional funding in 2017.
In May 2016, Jon, Stacie, and Merrick held a workshop at CBI’s headquarters to hash out an approach and vision. Currently PUP is investigating the possibility of applying the pilot run in Calakmul (see next section).
Calakmul Municipality and Biosphere Reserve
As a result of our six-site, four-state exploratory trip in May (Guanajuato, Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo), the project that first emerged is in the Municipality of Calakmul, Campeche, home of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, mixed World Heritage of Mayan city and forest. There during our trip, we visited a variety of stakeholders and sites and found that the tourism department of the municipality convened a whole range of stakeholders who together have formed a tourism committee. Thus, we have agreed to collaborate with the will of this tourism committee to help them do what they want within the boundaries of our objectives. The committee wants to do destination marketing of the entire municipality which has not done any marketing. So part of the project would involve the marketing component and will include the Integrated Situation Analysis (see above). Once this occurs, the project may include different kinds of trainings, plannings, and implementation accompaniment. Whatever the actual portfolio that results, HESNAC has already signed a letter of collaboration with the municipality, a required formality. It has signed on our behalf although legally does not yet represent us. For now, the only connection with have with HESNAC is that it is an institutional TSM member with us. Nonetheless this project is exciting because it represents very much of what we advocate: starting a co-created project through an exploratory trip that starts without money and together we will build this project. Obviously our role is in large part finding money, collaborators, providing methodology, some training, and accompaniment.
Spanish Interpretation Webinars PUP-NAI-CATIE
The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) has offered English webinars on interpretation for some years. PUP coordinator Jon Kohl as well Treasurer Clark Hancock have offered several. Since no such offering exists for the Spanish-speaking world and PUP is well positioned to recruit speakers, we proposed to NAI and also to CATIE (Latin American supranational natural resource post-graduate university in Costa Rica with variety of national technical offices in other countries) that we team up to launch a Spanish webinar series in interpretation. So we signed a tripartite MOU and then hired Adriana Zúñiga to coordinate it on a commission basis. We are currently recruiting speakers, setting up the reservation system, training Adriana, and preparing a promotional video based on words from our advisor, Sam Ham. Adriana fortunately has video production experience. The series will launch in 2017.
In 2016, we saw the addition of various new faces to the Consortium and change some categories.
The new board consists of five directors, two of whom are new to PUP in 2016.
These individuals and institutions participate actively in our projects. Although the Consensus Building Institute has been a member since the founding, two new CBI are recognized.
These folks are the ambassadors and project leads in their countries. In 2016, we added one more country representative.
This year the PUP Consortium incorporated in the State of Colorado as nonprofit corporation. This includes its bylaws that establish the board, advisory council, and the possibility of country offices. Next year we will request 501(c)3 status.
First PUP Country Office in Mexico
The PUP Global Heritage Consortium and HESNAC, A.C. signed an MOU making the latter organization PUP’s first country office in representation of Mexico. This agreement means that HESNAC is duly authorized to manage and facilitate all PUP projects appropriate to its means in the country of Mexico. A country office is an agreement of mutual benefit as it not only allows PUP to maintain its decentralized network character but also increases its reach overseas and ensures proper administrative and diplomatic knowledge and management in the host country. For the country office, membership opens access to entities and personnel throughout the Consortium as well as leverages its international nature to promote projects and the PUP mission.
The Future Has Other Plans: Planning Holistically to Conserve Natural and Cultural Heritage
Fulcrum Publishing accepted the book for publication in 2014, while PUP Consortium’s Jon Kohl and Steve McCool finished the book in 2015, then published in December 2016. The book serves as the philosophical backbone for the PUP Global Heritage Consortium as it describes Holistic Planning. The book edited by Dr. Sam Ham (another PUP advisor along with Steve) in his and Fulcrum’s Series on Applied Communication, the same series that published both of Ham’s books critical for the field of heritage interpretation.
First PUP Monograph in Spanish
Superando barreras de implementación causada por la Planificación Racional Comprensiva en los planes de manejo de áreas protegidas: “Estudio de Caso de Costa Rica.” PUP is teaming up with member CATIE to publish its first monograph as part of the CATIE Technical Series. Jon Kohl and Bernal Herrera are authors while PUP monograph editor Juan Sebastian Vargas edited it and coordinated the external peer review.
White Paper on Implementation
PUP assembled a paper in 2015 covering much of its current theory on why plans do and do get implemented. In 2017, we will look for the best opportunity to publish it.
PUP is in discussion with two or three country organizations to establish additional country offices.
Launch Webinar Series
PUP will launch its Spanish interpretation webinar series in the first half of 2017.
General Membership Program
Over the past half year we have been planning the launch of our general membership program which should happen in the first quarter of 2017. General members pay a $30 annual fee to receive a series of benefits but most of all support our unique mission.
PUP decided to incorporate in the USA in order to be able to accept donations and increase its legitimacy. It will also be able to sign its own agreements and receive contracts directly. In early 2016, we will initiate the process of selecting a state and incorporating.
Latin American Conservation Think Tank
Dr. Jeremy Radachowsky, director of the Mesoamerican Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, is leading an effort to create with PUP a think tank that deals with alternative approaches to conservation.
In the 2017, the board will develop standing and temporary action teams to increase the organization’s rate of change. It will also work on financial, personnel, and membership policies, among others.
Criteria for TOR writing that increase chances of implementation and real public engagement
PUP came to realize that implementation often starts with the terms of reference of a contract. The TOR define how power is allocated and ultimately who will participate and how implementable a plan might be. For example, a contract that empowers the consultants with the sole responsibility to write a plan means that other stakeholders will not be responsible for it. Thus, the expectations are that the consultants will do all the work and in the end will also “own” the plan while other stakeholders watch from the sidelines. Similarly, a contract that rigidly defines deliverables and deliverable dates will make it very hard for the process to respond to community needs and emerging opportunities and threats. If often takes the planning team considerable time to figure out which is the best route for a given site and a given set of interacting stakeholder personalities and interests. PUP hopes to write up guidelines for defining terms of reference for planning contracts in the future
Strategic plan is unnecessary for young organizations that respond to opportunities
Young organizations with few resources have to be highly opportunistic and experimental as they forge a new culture and new operating system. Because they have few resources, they must take advantage of enthusiastic new people with different interests, alliances, and funding sources. All of these influence the HOW of a young organization, although the WHAT and WHY may stay steady. As management guru Tom Peters says, you must be “tight on ends and loose on means.” A young organization can make a strategic plan but may best keep it short, visionary, and frequently updated. Only over time, can the organization control its destiny with moderately greater ability when it has resources and built structures in place. PUP in 2017 will investigate creating an appropriate and virtual strategic plan.
Importance of dispute resolution to the PUP Process
So much of bringing a community together to plan is to have them engage, work beyond conflicts, and build trust. These emphases come out of the dispute resolution field, a contribution that the Consensus Building Institute has been making to PUP.
Holistic evaluation of interpretive trainings
PUP learned that evaluation can and should integrate both the interior experience of participants as well as exterior, objective measures of performance. Given the comparable length of the interpretive training that ended in 2016, PUP had the opportunity to integrate a variety of interior and exterior techniques that ended in a narrative essay about each participant with recommendations for holistic improvement.