The 5th World Parks Congress of IUCN was held in Durban, South Africa, 8–17 September 2003. The theme of “Benefits Beyond Boundaries” attracted around 3000 participants from all over the world who are concerned with Protected Areas issues. It was announced at the gathering that, on paper at least, 12 percent of the terrestrial surface of the earth is now under some kind of conservation status. Information on the Congress is available at www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/wpc/2003. A summary report was prepared by the International Institute for Sustainable Development ( www.iisd.ca/linkage/sd/worldparksv).
A pre-Congress “Mountain Protected Areas Workshop” was held from 5 to 8 September in the Drakensberg at Didima hutted camp, Cathedral Peak. It was organized by WCPA Mountain Theme Vice-Chair Larry Hamilton and Deputy Vice-Chair Graeme Worboys. The hosts, Ezemvelo Kwazulu/Natal Wildlife under the guiding hand of Kevan Zunckel, provided a top-notch field program in the uKhahlamba/Drakensberg World Heritage Site. It featured visits to ancient rock art shelter caves, a community development project, and wilderness area management, and included a climb for peace to the Sentinel and Amphitheatre peaks on the Lesotho/South Africa border. Here members of the workshop displayed national flags and joined in affirming a Didima Declaration on Transboundary Cooperation and Peace.
Sixty mountain women and men from 23 countries participated in the Workshop. From evening working sessions there will emerge:
An updated, heavily revised IUCN publication “Guidelines for Mountain Protected Areas;” this will be produced by Larry Hamilton and Linda McMillan of the American Alpine Club.
A collection of approximately 50 papers edited by Graeme Worboys and David Harmon of the George Wright Society; it will be published by Andromeda Press.
A revision of the Oxford University Press book, “Protected Area Management: Principles and Practice” by Graeme Worboys et al.
It was a most productive and enjoyable workshop.
At the Congress in Durban, a Mountain Dinner was held, with 85 mountain lovers in attendance. The program included a launch of Elsa Pooley's new book, “Guide to Mountain Flowers of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park,” and a set of stories of the Sani Pass by Mike Clark. Larry Hamilton was presented with the Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award from the World Commission on Protected Areas, by the Chair Kenton Miller. This award is given for exceptional service to mountain protection around the world.
The mountain recommendation entitled “Strengthening Mountain Protected Areas as a Key Contribution to Sustainable Mountain Development,” accepted as part of the Durban Accord, contains the following recommendations:
… the Pre-World Parks Congress Workshop on Mountain Protected Areas, … involving 60 managers, scientists and policy makers representing 23 countries:
ENDORSE the establishment of an adequate and representative network of Mountain Protected Areas in all mountain regions as a key part of sustainable mountain development, including appropriate conservation linkages to adjacent landscapes and seascapes and working with local communities and land managers;
WELCOME the support for Mountain Protected Areas from outdoor recreation interests, as expressed in the Environmental Objectives and Guidelines of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), published during the International Year of Mountains;
URGE IUCN – the World Conservation Union, to:
Support the Mountain Initiative Task Force as an inter-Commission group involving primarily the World Commission on Protected Areas and the Commission on Ecosystem Management, with opportunities for other Commissions to contribute as appropriate;
Give particular attention to implementing the WCPA 2004–2008 Mountain Strategy, as endorsed by the Mountain Initiative Task Force;
Engage fully in the International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions, as a method of implementing Chapter 13 of Agenda 21;
Continue to press for recognition, during this International Year of Freshwater and beyond, of the vital role of Mountain Protected Areas in safeguarding water quality and quantity;
Provide leadership to highlight the vital relationship between biodiversity, mountains and protected areas as the CBD considers these topics at its 2004 meetings;
Give a prominent role to mountains and their protected areas at the 2004 World Conservation Congress; and
Provide a forum to discuss and advance transboundary protected areas in contributing to the conservation of regional biodiversity, recognizing the special circumstances of transboundary mountain communities, and resolving regional conflicts through mechanisms such as Peace Parks.