First Projects in Country
In 1998, the president of Pico Bonito National Park asked RARE Center for Tropical Conservation to help identify a methodology to create a public use plan. After an informal survey of the park planning landscape of Latin America, RARE reported back that there was nothing out there they could recommend because the landscape was covered with unimplemented management plans of all kinds. Rather, because RARE worked in ecotourism and grassroots development, it thought it could come up with anything as good as what was out there. But the director of the Ecotourism and Community Development Program, Brett Jenks (now president), told Jon Kohl (formerly of the Nature Guide Training Program), “Fine, but I won’t want any more unimplemented plans.” The mandate was to identify plan implementation barriers and develop a methodology to get around them. From the outset on the North Coast of Honduras, the Public Use Planning Program (PUP) began with a mandate of research.
In 2003, RARE decided to focus on its conservation pride work and let its tourism programs go. Jon and PUP left together. In 2006 Jon began to work again with Art Pedersen, the director of the Sustainable Tourism Program at UNESCO and took PUP to Macedonia, Montenegro, Belize, Vietnam, and eventually to Portugal and Kenya. During this time the methodology to produce a plan was tested again and again.
In 2013, however, PUP began its own organization rather than an ad hoc consultant-driven project of UNESCO. Now the PUP Global Heritage Consortium has its own platform, membership, and creates the conditions necessary for more successful public use planning, with its overall focus on implementation, not creating more documents. In 2016, PUP legally incorporated in the state of Colorado, USA as a non-profit corporation and inaugurated its first board of directors.