The Secretariat has developed concise learning modules which take approximately an hour each, providing an overview of key terms, concepts, resources, and approaches. To access the module “Transboundary protected areas and regional networks”, other on-line courses as well as exercises, additional learning materials, and discussion forums, click here.

There are some issues in management of transboundary protected areas, such as conflict, that require special attention. Conflicts between countries often occur along international boundaries in remote areas, exactly the places where transboundary protected areas are often located.

Transboundary protected areas may also involve the removal of international boundary fences, further heightening security and safety concerns. In some cases, there may be on going disputes about who owns land, either between countries (border disputes) or within countries (land tenure disputes).

Transboundary protected area managers should develop plans for emergency situations, including armed conflict. This may include developing environmental guidelines related to rules of military engagement, agreement to follow international conventions on environmental and humanitarian issues, and identifying high-priority areas within the transboundary protected area that are considered demilitarized zones under the Geneva Convention.

If armed conflict does arise, protected area authorities should appeal to all parties to respect the agreements of the transboundary protected area, and to abide by international conventions. Where armed conflict threatens internationally-protected biodiversity, protected area authorities may also appeal for international sanctions.

There are a number of international conventions on environmental and humanitarian issues to which governments may appeal. These include instruments for the conservation, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity across boundaries (e.g., Convention on Biological Diversity, Ramsar Convention, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals); instruments concerning respect for human rights (e.g., ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Indigenous Countries, Universal Declaration of Human Rights); and instruments prohibiting environmentally damaging means of warfare (e.g., Convention on the Prohibition of Military of any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques; IUCN Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Hostile Military Activities in Protected Areas).

If a transboundary protected area becomes a designated area for housing refugees or displaced people, the protected area authority should cooperate closely with outside agencies, such as the UN High Commission on Refugees, to minimize impacts.

After tensions and armed conflicts subside, there will likely be a need for restoration and rehabilitation. These plans should be developed by local and national government agencies, in close collaboration with local communities. The priority should be to restore habitats of rare, threatened and endangered species, and to biodiversity elements that are critical to the overall functioning and integrity of the system, such as corridors.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme