|Planning National Parks for Ecodevelopment - Methods and Cases from Latin America (Peace Corps, 1982)|
|Chapter V. A practical method for park planning|
The suggested planning method for national parks has two objectives: First, to provide a fundamental guideline for planning the management and development of specific resources in particular geographic locations (park areas); and second, to provide a fundamental guideline by which the planning process can become a normal function of a national park organization.
In Chapter III, a ten-step model was presented and discussed in fundamental terms to explain the procedure for planning. The planning method for national parks will now be considered in somewhat greater detail. There are three PHASES which are in turn sub-divided into fourteen STEPS:
Phase One - Preparation of the Plan
1. Gather basic information and background
2. Inventory the area in the field
3. Analyze the limitations and constraints
4. State the objectives of the park
5. Divide the area into management zones
6. Draft the boundaries for the area
7. Design the management programs
8. Prepare the integrated development program
9. Analyze and evaluate the plan
10. Design the development schedule
Phase Two - Publication and Distribution of the Plan
11. Publish and distribute the management plan
Phase Three - Implementation of the Plan
12. Implement the plan
13. Analyze and evaluate the results
14. Gather feedback and revise the plan (replan).
Each of the fourteen steps is related and dependent upon all other steps. What affects one step will most certainly affect the others in ore way or another. For example, consider a hypothetical case where a planning team has taken the decisions related to Steps 1 through 7. The team now faces the eighth step - prepare the integrated development program. To their surprise, they find that the developments which follow from their earlier decisions are exaggerated and unacceptable. The members of the team feel that there are too many buildings, too much pavement, too little protection of critical natural areas, and the implied budget is beyond the reach of the park department. Some members may be uncomfortable due to their concern that the plan may not be leading towards the objectives. Some may argue that there is over-development, while others will claim the plan to he too primitive and unimaginative.
The arguments may he strong as the team members return to previous steps to search for errors and conflicts. What is critical, however is that everyone is arguing about a model which thus far has been drawn only on paper. The bulldozers have not yet touched the resource. The decision is in abstraction with no risk to the national heritage.
As shown in the diagram in Figure V-1, the planning team moves from step to step. When problems arise, the team may retrace its steps and rework previous decisions, The ability to retrace and relocate earlier ideas is of utmost importance since many planning errors remain uncorrected because planners cannot recall the reasons for which they made decisions yesterday. What values influenced their judgement? Maybe their previous questions were at fault, but what were those questions?
In theory, all steps in this kind of decision model are taken virtually at the same time. The model is a single process in which each answer to a quest-on leads to the following question, which when answered again leads to the following question, and so on. In practice, it works much more slowly. The planning team will often require hours, days or weeks to make decisions.
This difference between theory and practice is caused principally because of the many unknown factors which affect park planning. Actually, little is known about the nature and function of natural and cultural resources. And, even more complex, little is known about humans, their behavior in wilderness, their needs for the diverse benefits from natural and cultural resources, and their interrelationship with other humans in wildland areas.
Figure V-1. Schematic diagram of the suggested method for planning the management and development of National Parks.
Step 1. Basic information and background
- Choose objectives and criteria for management and
Step 2. Inventory
- Inventory the Area in the Field
Step 3. Constaints
- Analyze the Limitations and Constraints
Step 4. Objectives
- State the Objectives of the Park
Step 5. Zoning
- Divide the Area into Management Zones, Development Areas, and Sites
Step 6. Boundaries
- Draft Boundaries for the Area
Step 7. Management Programs
- Design the interpretation and Research
- Environmental Mangement
- Administration and Maintenance
Step 8. Integrated Development Program
- Design the Physical Development of Area and Infrastructure
Step 9. Analysis Evaluation
- Analyze the Expected Outputs
Step 10. Development Schedule
- Dedign the Schedule for the Physical, Human and Institutional Development Park
Step 11. Publish distribute plan
- Publish the Management plan
Step 12. Implementation
- Implement the Management Plan for the Park
Step 13. Analysis evaluation results
- Analyze the Results of the Park as each phase enters
Step 14. Feedback revision of management plan
- Based upon the Experience of Planning and Operating the Park,
and upon the results of analysis and evaluation, correct and realign the plan as
The planning team is forced to consider many ideas and concepts which are still unproven, notions which still lack evidence, and it must work from deep personal feelings and conviction about human values and those evasive "long-run benefits." Far different from any mechanical process, park planning depends upon the judgement of the members of the planning team.
It is suggested that the planning team study and grasp each step before proceeding to the next. Once team members feel familiar and comfortable with each, they should try them in order, one after another, and begin to feel the planning process. Figuratively speaking, they are in a similar situation to the juggler who, one by one, throws each ball into the air and attempts to keep all of them there, in motion, until he is ready for them to fall into place in an orderly manner.
Step 1 - Gather basic information and background
The planning process begins in the office. Before running out to the field, where admittedly most of the work and pleasure lie, a certain amount of homework must be done. The reasons for considering the area as a national park must be understood in terms of national conservation objectives and in relation to the national park system plan if such has already been prepared. Descriptive information on topography, geology, and flora and fauna and archeological and historical sites and objects are gathered from libraries and other sources. The National (or Regional) Development Plans are read in terms of their relationship to the geographical region of interest and the related sectors such as education, science, recreation, tourism, road construction, etc. Then, there is a need for data on the use of wildland resources and on the costs of various types of construction in the area. Past departmental and ministerial budgets and lists of personnel are reviewed to gain a perspective on trends and expectations for the new park. And careful consideration is given to other agencies' plans for the same area, as well as to policies, laws and institutional factors which may influence the park plan.
The park planning process begins with a thorough review of knowledge about the area and of the factors which will affect the planning of the park. This information also supports the preparation of a BASE MAP which should be ready before the team heads for the field.
Step 2 - Inventory the area in the field
With BASE MAP in hand, and the necessary equipment and supplies, the planning team heads for the field. Although the content and intensity of the inventory may vary considerably, all park planning will require some field work to gather new information, check and update existing data and to review the area with new perspectives. Generally, a review is made of the geology, flora, fauna, water resources, weather and genetic materials. Attention is also given to archeological artifacts and sites, as well as to contemporary cultures. The regional influences upon the park are studied to note economic pressures. colonization, hunting. pollution, or other effects. Transport networks, communications and other aspects of human settlement are examined, and the trends and attitudes of local citizenry are noted.
Particular attention is given to CRITICAL AREAS such as unique natural phenomena, sites of poor drainage, endangered species and their habitats, or other factors which can have an over-riding influence on planning.
All data from the inventory are noted in field notebooks. Information on natural and cultural resources are located on the BASE MAP.
Step 3 - Analyze the limitations and constraints
From the office work and field inventory it will be apparent that there is a growing list of constraints upon the management of the area. For physical, environmental, institutional, political, economic, or legal reasons, there are limitations on what can be done. Not all of the doors are open! Some options have been removed or severely challenged because of what nature, or past or present man, has done before the planning team arrived on the scene. There are FACTS which can be objectively stated and there are ASSUMPTIONS consisting of unwritten but well accepted guidelines of policy, or statements of what the planners believe to be management guidelines but which are never discussed officially. The planners already have some standards and norms concerning construction codes, public health, visitor density patterns and pollution control.
These limitations and constraints are to be made explicit. They reduce the options or guide the decisions of the planners. Since such guidelines change and evolve with time, the planners must be able to recall which doors they thought were open in the event that later events show that one or more doors were in fact closed.
Step 4 - State the objectives of the park
Steps 1 through 3 have provided the basis by which the planners can now consider in greater detail the role and potential benefits of the park. In Step 1, general statements of objectives for the park were made to orient the initial gathering of information. By the end of Step 3, the information exists to specify objectives in greater detail. For example, from the original statement: "maintain representative samples of major biotic urn's as functioning ecosystems in perpetuity," the objective may now be more specified: "maintain a representative sample of the 'Guayana Highlands biotic province'."
Subsequent steps will have to consider the means for maintaining such a sample as a "Functioning ecosystem" in light of the characteristics of the resource and the need for other wildland outputs from the area. and as a functioning ecosystem "in perpetuity" in light of legal, institutional and political factors, land use trends, and the like.
Step 5 - Divide the area into management zones
The team now enters into the most significant of decisions. The park area is sub-divided into ZONES - sectors of the park which require similar management practices to meet particular objectives of the park. Each zone has one or more sub-objectives, a definition, a description, and norms for management.
Then the ZONES are sub-divided. Specific areas within ZONES are identified by the planning team as DEVELOPMENT AREAS - the places where small or large amounts of man-made capital will normally have to be added to the natural or cultural resources to permit particular scientific, recreational, educational, touristic or protection activities to take place. Each DEVELOPMENT AREA is assigned a name, a theme (very specific goal), and a general set of facilities and services. Within each AREA, specific SITES are identified where actual management practices, activities and physical developments are to be located.
The zoning proposal (including development areas and sites) is placed on the PRELIMINARY ZONE MAP and represents the first draft model of the park which shows how the park will function.
Step 6 - Draft the boundaries for the park
Theoretically and ideally it is at this point when the planners are ready to consider the boundaries for the park. Admittedly, boundaries will have been assigned to most parks before planning begins. However, the team should be free to reconsider the boundary and to propose modifications as necessary.
The BASE MAP has information on topography, flora and fauna, ecological features, CRITICAL AREAS, regional influences, transport and communication installations, land use, human settlement and historic sites. In addition, the planners now have a PRELIMINARY ZONE MAP based upon specific objectives for the park which have taken into account troth the resources of the area and the potential role of the area in regional and national development and conservation. The task is then to sketch the boundaries around the exterior of the zones. The boundary considers the land and water area necessary to meet the objectives. The proposed fire is placed on the PRELIMINARY ZONE MAP.
Step 7 - Design the management programs
The zoning concept has provided the basis for deciding what is to be done where. Each zone has a job to do as part of the overall park. The questions now turn to getting these many jobs accomplished: How will things be done? By what means will the objectives be attained? Who will do them? The planning task becomes action-oriented.
MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS are designed to address the key action topics: ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, INTERPRETATION AND RESEARCH, and ADMINISTRATION AND MAINTENANCE. Each PROGRAM has several sub-programs on particular types of activities such as research, recreation and staff training. For each SUB-PROGRAM, the team prepares a MANAGEMENT CONCEPT: a statement of objectives, a list of activities, standards and norms, the requirements for personnel, and the construction, supplies and equipment needed to put each sub-program into action
Step 8 - Prepare the integrated development program
The analysis on zoning and the management programs establishes the needs for man-made inputs to the natural or cultural capital. Given what is already there, and considering what activities the team believes should be available in the park, what ingredients are missing?
The physical development requirements are now located on a clean copy of the base map. This GENERAL DEVELOPMENT MAP will show the zoning, development areas and boundaries (transferred from the preliminary zone map), the suggested buildings, roads, communications, and other types of construction. The GENERAL DEVELOPMENT MAP represents a single statement of the physical developments required to accomplish the various management programs. In addition, there are the requirements for development of human capacity to manage the park. Training courses, scholarships, in-service experience to be gained at other functioning parks or participation in an international seminar are all potential tools to be considered for preparing personnel for the job being designed. Also important are the institutional aspects of development which require activities in law, policy, institution building and interagency relations as well as community and public relations.
Step 9 - Analyze and evaluate the plan
The MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS and the INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM present a pragmatic statement of one alternative way to approach the objectives of the park. First, the proposed activities, physical facilities, personnel requirements and institutional innovations are analyzed to check if they, in combination with the natural and cultural resources, are in fact capable of yielding the objectives. Second, even if they are capable, are they appropriate and acceptable? Why do them at all?
If the package is accepted by the team, the planning procedure moves on to step 10. If rejected, then further search for inconsistency and inappropriateness is made until a new and better alternative is designed. This may require returning to Step 1 and repeating the entire procedure again.
Step 10 - Design the development schedule
The previous steps have established a plan which states: What is to be done where, how and why. Furthermore, the plan states who will do the work and with what kinds of resources.
Now, before the plan is allowed to gel, there remains the question of when. The team must decide upon the timing of each event in the plan by designing a DEVELOPMENT SCHEDULE. When the elements of the integrated development program can be scheduled to make sense, then the team can consider their work to have presented a viable PLAN.
Step 11 - Publish and distribute the management plan
The elements of the PLAN are now available. The PLAN will have limited usefulness, however, unless it is published in a form designed to reach a particular or general audience. The planning document must be distributed to make sure that copies get into the right hands.
Following approval of the document by the Department Director and Minister, the planning team ensures that copies of the document arrive into the hands of all members of the cabinet, related government departments and institutes, universities, national and international conservation bodies (particularly the IUCN and WWF) and related OAS and UN agencies and departments. In some cases, the regional banks and economic integration bodies will be interested in, and make good use of, such plans in regional development work.
Step 12 - Implement the plan
The planning process continues. The job is not terminated when the PLAN is published. Some team members must be involved in the implementation of the plan to help get it off to a good start. They must ensure that the plan can be understood and followed by all concerned with implementation. Since the manager of the park and several rangers and other personnel were members of the planning team, they should be prepared to carry the responsibility of the planning process on into implementation.
Step 13 - Analyze and evaluate the results
Careful control must be maintained on the implementation of the plan. This can be accomplished by field personnel and through periodic visits by other members of the team (architects, engineers, ecologists, the director, etc.). The results of each aspect of the plan must be analyzed and evaluated in terms of the implications for achieving park objectives.
Step 14 - Gather feedback and revise the plan (replan)
The area manager and other team members, and in fact ail park personnel, are to be sensitive and aware of as many problems of management and development as possible. The staff are all part of the "monitoring system" which must identify problems as quickly as possible and initiate the appropriate corrective action. Each staff member is to have the plan in his mind, and a copy handy for daily consultation. All eyes and ears must gather information as to how the plan is working.