This review drew together protected area managers and economic planners to analyse current approaches to protected area management and investigate ways to integrate them more effectively for socio-economic development. The main questions asked were:
The review worked through a partnership of national and international organisations, both governmental and non-governmental. Government departments in each country carried the review through with technical support from international organisations. National and regional networks of protected area managers and economic planners were also involved to provide information, ideas and strategies.
Initially reviews were undertaken in each country. Papers were prepared describing the lessons learned and key themes of national importance. While field studies in selected regions examined the issues on a local scale.
The papers and field reports were distributed to the national networks, to stimulate discussion and elicit contributions from the network members, many of whom convened national round table discussions in each country.
The syntheses of ideas and experiences from this process were documented in national reports, which make concrete recommendations for establishing closer ties between protected area management and socio-economic development.
Each national report and the issues and lessons arising from the national reviews were presented at a regional forum. Representatives from the four countries met in regional workshops, organised by the Mekong River Commission, to exchange views and define regional approaches to shared problems.
The World Parks Congress
The process culminated in the presentation of national and regional reports at the World Parks Congress in Durban, South Africa, in September 2003 by national representatives of the four countries.
Through the review, the opportunities and needs to manage protected areas for the benefit of local and national socio-economic development should be better understood.