Training protected area managers

Around the world, the underfunding of protected areas creates numerous management problems. Money is needed: to hire and train competent staff, particularly in financial management; to manage and monitor the protected area; to work with local communities and other stakeholders; to invest in and maintain infrastructure and equipment; to carry out surveillance patrols and enforce regulations; and to monitor the impact of conservation work.

The underfunding stems directly from a lack of reliable information regarding the costs of setting up and managing a protected area, and from a persistent tendency to focus on the expense of protected areas rather than the ecological and socio-economic benefits they bring about.

Having a business plan is crucial to securing a protected area’s financial sustainability. Having no plan, or one that is out of date, directly affects the management team’s capacity to protect the area’s ecosystems effectively.

To be able to create a business plan and keep it relevant, a protected area needs to have a management plan in place that sets out its mission, goals and conservation activities, and the means required to achieve them.

Take Europe, for example: despite being one of the best-funded parts of the world for conservation, 47% of Europe’s Natura 2000 marine sites claim to have no management plan (Perry et al., 2020). Given that the situation is even worse in less privileged regions, the number of protected areas worldwide that have a business plan must be minimal.

Yet without a robust business plan, managers struggle to optimise their management costs, carry out long-term financial planning, prioritise their work and research funding opportunities.

The underfunding of protected areas makes it hard to recruit enough competent personnel. Teams tend to be put together according to the needs of the moment, leaving some major skills gaps.

A lack of human resources and expertise in areas such as accounting, fundraising or even communications can prevent protected area managers from finding the time to develop a business plan.

Entrepreneurial skills, such as making efficiencies or financial forecasting, are not always the top priority for such managers, whose expertise is usually in biology and ecology.

Our solutions


BlueSeeds has trained personnel in more than 80 protected areas and protected area networks in 21 countries

Having a multidisciplinary team, BlueSeeds is able to design training programmes that help protected area managers meet their conservation goals and achieve lasting impact.

Our finance and management training courses provide managers with new knowledge and tools that will support them in ensuring the ongoing impact of their work.

BlueSeeds has trained personnel in more than 80 protected areas and protected area networks in 21 countries. Among the organisations that have entrusted us with their training needs are the MedPAN, the RAMPAO and the MAVA Foundation.

Finance training

Training managers in financial planning for conservation

BlueSeeds has provided training in financial planning to hundreds of protected area managers in the Mediterranean and West Africa, including contributing to the MedPAN’s Regular Training Programme and as part of a project to create a regional business plan for the RAMPAO.

At the end of five days’ training combining theory and practical activities, the managers had the skills to maintain a business plan based on the workflow set out in their management plan, manage their area’s income and expenditure, calculate their funding gap and plug it by putting in place various financial strategies.

The Mediterranean MPA managers had access to online course modules developed by BlueSeeds and learnt how to draw up their own business plan using the MedPLAN, a model business plan matrix created by a consortium including BlueSeeds. BlueSeeds delivered similar training to West African MPA managers using a business plan matrix developed by the consultancy firm Baastel.

Training on management effectiveness

Training in effective marine protected area management

BlueSeeds has developed a training programme designed to help marine conservation managers maximise their effectiveness.

The course lasts five days and includes theory sessions, group workshops exploring case studies, role play sessions, discussion sessions and a field visit. We cover topics such as how to assess the effectiveness of marine protected area management, managing and planning conservation activities, self-financing mechanisms, stakeholder engagement and community entrepreneurship and innovation.

Managers and consultants emerge from the training having had the opportunity to share their experiences and solutions with fellow participants, and full of ideas about how to better manage the environment they are working to protect.

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