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COMPACT

Engaging Local Communities in
the Stewardship of World Heritage

Local communities and indigenous peoples are, and have been for centuries, the custodians of many World Heritage sites. Thus, they should be recognized as key actors in the process of identification, management and sustainable development of a property. The importance of enhancing their engagement in the stewardship of World Heritages site and ensuring equitable sharing of the benefits deriving from heritage is recognized as a strategic objective of the World Heritage Convention: the 5th “C” (Communities).

Launched in the year 2000, the Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) initiative was established as a partnership between the World Heritage Centre, UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) to demonstrate how community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in globally significant protected areas.


COMPACT initiative

COMPACT is an innovative model for engaging communities in conservation and shared governance of World Heritage sites and other protected areas


COMPACT methodology

Rooted in a common approach, the methodology is designed to be highly participatory, seeking to engage local people and protected area stakeholders in consultation throughout the process.


Results and case studies

Over one million beneficiaries and more than 400 small grants awarded to community-based activities in the World Heritage land- and seascapes around the world, notably in Africa


Lessons learned

COMPACT has demonstrated an ability to achieve and sustain community and ecosystem benefits over time, adapting itself to the realities in the context of each protected area

COMPACT in a nutshell

COMPACT takes a landscape approach, finding constructive ways to work with a diverse range of communities and stakeholders living in and caring for protected areas and the broader landscape.

 COMPACT uses a methodology that is rooted in science, while being highly participatory, engaging local people and other stakeholders at every stage of the process, recognizing that communities will become actively involved in moving forward conservation, provided they see clear benefits associated with their involvement.

COMPACT harnesses the power of synergy, supporting a cluster of activities including the provision of small grants, capacity-building activities, networking and support with marketing. Each COMPACT programme employs a strategic approach to “finding the niche for community-based interventions in the landscape,” and creating synergies among grantees/partners.

COMPACT’s institutional structures are based on principles of sharing power, recognizing that supporting community led initiatives requires trust, flexibility and patience. Transparent processes and broad public participation are key to ensuring community engagement. More generally, good governance is essential to the successful implementation of conservation initiatives.

COMPACT initiative

The Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) initiative is an innovative model for engaging communities in conservation and shared governance of World Heritage sites and other protected areas. It is based on the proposition that community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in World Heritage sites while helping to improve the livelihoods of local people. With an emphasis on complementing and adding value to existing conservation programmes, COMPACT uses small grants (up to a maximum of US$50,000) to support clusters of community-based activities that are intended to strengthen biodiversity conservation in and around protected areas.

Launched in the year 2000, the COMPACT initiative was established as a partnership between the World Heritage Centre, UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the United Nations Foundation (UNF) to demonstrate how community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in globally significant protected areas.

The first phase of COMPACT (running from 2000-2004) was initiated in six World Heritage sites. During the second phase of the partnership (running from 2005-2013), COMPACT consolidated the focus of the first phase with the addition of two additional globally significant protected area clusters bringing the list of participating World Heritage sites and landscapes to eight in total: Belize Barrier Reef (Belize), Sian Ka’an (Mexico), Morne Trois Pitons (Dominica), Mt. Kenya (Kenya), Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines), Djoudj Bird Sanctuary and transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Senegal/Mauritania), as well as the forets seches tentative list nomination of South-West Madagascar.

The third phase (beginning in late 2013) has focused on replication and adaptation of the COMPACT model in new landscapes, at the initiative of managers and other partners at site level. Thus far the focus has been on countries of Africa, with new COMPACT initiatives having started at sites such as the Simien National Park (Ethiopia), two national parks within the Rainforests of the Atsinanana World Heritage site (Madagascar), the W National Park in Niger which is part of the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (a transboundary site encompassing protected areas in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger), Maloti-Drakensberg (Lesotho/South Africa) and Okavango Delta (Botswana).

COMPACT methodology:
rooted in science, highly participatory

COMPACT follows a standardized methodology designed to pilot the landscape-level approach in a range of different ecological and socio-economic situations and includes a scientific approach to producing a baseline assessment, conceptual model and site strategy for future monitoring and evaluation purposes.

Rooted in a common approach and the concepts of cross-cutting and community-led governance, the COMPACT methodology is designed to be highly participatory, seeking to engage local people and protected area stakeholders in consultation throughout the process. This approach was designed to give considerable flexibility to local decision-makers while ensuring rigour, so that the overall goals of the conservation of globally significant biodiversity remain clearly in focus. The COMPACT methodology builds on four inter-connected elements: planning framework, governance structures, programmatic elements and World Heritage operational processes. Each element is participatory and depends on consultation with local people and other stakeholders throughout the process.

COMPACT planning framework

The COMPACT methodology relies on three closely linked core elements that underlie its framework for planning and implementation. These COMPACT planning frameworks are:

  • the baseline assessment: providing a ‘snapshot’ of the site in order to analyse emerging trends, and serving as a basis for future monitoring and evaluation
  • a conceptual model: providing a diagrammatic tool documenting site-level processes, threats and opportunities believed to impact biodiversity conservation in the area
  • the site strategy: providing an important framework for the allocation of resources; implementation of grants and other activities; and assessment of results.

COMPACT governance structures

In each World Heritage Site, a local coordinator (LC) is responsible for planning and implementing site-based activities. The LC also provides the key link between a local consultative body (LCB) (key project stakeholders, including the protected area management authorities, representatives of local communities, NGOs active in the region, local research institutions, local government, the private sector, and donors) and a National Steering Committee.

COMPACT programmatic elements

While the planning framework and governance structures are an essential part of the COMPACT initiative, they should not be seen as an end in themselves. At its core, the COMPACT initiative is a demand-driven grantmaking programme, complemented by capacity-building, exchange and networking activities and oriented around thematic areas of work.

World Heritage operational process

The COMPACT methodology aims at ensuring that consultation with local people and other stakeholders occurs throughout the whole World Heritage operational process: from the preparation of nomination, management and governance of the site, and monitoring and reporting.

Results and case studies

Today, COMPACT is working with an increasing number of World Heritage sites around the world, notably in Africa, with over one million beneficiaries and more than 400 small grants awarded to community-based activities in the World Heritage land- and seascapes.

COMPACT’s approach of facilitating collaboration within thematic areas, over time and with relatively modest investment, has helped to indirectly support and scale up individual projects to broader initiatives. Indeed, grant-making is only part of the story as it is complemented with a wide range of supportive activities, including capacity-building, training, networking and support with outreach and marketing. Some examples of the kinds of projects that COMPACT has supported in different thematic areas are:

Belize Barrier Reef (Belize)

COMPACT supported a significant shift in the attitudes of fisherfolk and communities in the coastal zones that depend on the barrier reef. Fishing communities, once opposed to marine protected areas are now among their greatest advocates. Many fishermen are leading efforts to improve fisheries management policies and expand the boundaries of marine protected areas and defend the World Heritage site from damage from oil extraction.

Sian Ka’an (Mexico)

Estimates suggest that with COMPACT support a total of 60,000 hectares of community lands connected to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve (over 10 percent of the area) have been put under sustainable management and use, including community-based REDD+ projects working with the hotel sector, at a cost of roughly $US 12 per hectare.

Morne Trois Pitons (Dominica)

The indigenous Kalinago youth in the Carib territory are involved in research
and documentation on traditional herbs and fruit with the aim of creating small biodiversity enterprises, contributing to the diversification of the national tourism industry, and preserving the traditional ecological knowledge of the Carib people for future generations.

Mt. Kenya (Kenya)

Numerous donors have found the COMPACT modality appealing and have pledged further financial resources to support protected area conservation. The Mt. Kenya Donor Forum, initiated by COMPACT, has helped to secure some US$35 million from donors such as the European Union to complement COMPACT projects in the World Heritage site.

Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

COMPACT site strategy has regularly informed and engaged with the Kilimanjaro National Park Outreach Programme Strategy and the Kilimanjaro Regional Development Strategy strengthening partnerships between stakeholders and linking communities with government planning processes. The creation of the Kilimanjaro network of grantees (COMPAKIN) is helping to sustain community-based efforts once the donor support comes to an end by providing a forum for information exchange and joint resource mobilization.

Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Philippines)

COMPACT has supported numerous indigenous peoples organisations to secure territorial rights through Certificate of Ancestral Domain claims, restore degraded forest habitat and river banks, and monitor and protect the forest in accordance with customary law, while enhancing local livelihoods, community development, and cultural integrity.

Djoudj Bird Sanctuary and transboundary Biosphere Reserve (Senegal/Mauritania)

COMPACT is contributing to stronger bi-national cooperation in managing the shared ecosystem by supporting a regional network of grantees and partners and cross- border exchanges. Critical habitats for birds and other wildlife have been restored, and pressure on natural resources within the reserve is starting to ease, evident in reduced deforestation and recovery of fish stocks, while local livelihoods have improved through an array of income-generating activities.

Forets seches tentative list nomination of South-West Madagascar

Through co-financing of local projects and joint grantee capacity development and participatory monitoring, COMPACT is working with the Tany Meva Foundation, a national environmental trust fund, to engage and empower local and indigenous communities

Simien National Park (Ethiopia)

In 2012, the Government of Ethiopia agreed to replicate COMPACT at this site, and to cost-sharing for the start-up phase of the project. To date, the COMPACT project has supported projects concerned with land degradation. It has helped to raise awareness of conservation challenges in communities in and around the national park, which encompasses the tallest peak in Ethiopia and habitats for a number of rare and endemic species.

Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar)

The COMPACT model has been introduced the model in two national parks within this World Heritage site.

W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger)

The COMPACT model has been introduced the model in the W National Park in Niger. Activities have focused on supporting local communities’ development and resilience to climate change through agricultural techniques that are compatible with biodiversity conservation.

Maloti-Drakensberg (Lesotho/South Africa)

COMPACT is contributing to undertake activities on the ground such as training the broader community on livestock and rangeland management, assist with vaccinations, general animal husbandry, rotational grazing and monitoring of grazing management plans, organizing livestock auctions, managing local communication processes, administration.

Okavango Delta (Botswana)

COMPACT is supporting the establishment of a conservation programme constituting a permanent structure to support the involvement of local communities.

Lessons learned

With over a decade of on-the-ground experience in diverse World Heritage sites and other globally significant protected areas, COMPACT has demonstrated an ability to achieve and sustain community and ecosystem benefits over time, adapting itself to the realities in the context of each protected area. By engaging community leaders and building extensive partnerships at local, national and regional levels, COMPACT has been able to extend its reach broadly at each site where it is working. 

COMPACT has helped to build a broader grassroots constituency for the conservation of World Heritage sites. In each of the sites COMPACT grantees have become advocates for protected area conservation as a result of increased understanding and exposure to the entire landscape, supported by opportunities for exchange and network building among communities and local organizations.

Lessons learned from this experience are highly relevant to World Heritage, and can help to guide new strategies to engage with and support community stewardship and governance of the Outstanding Universal Value of these globally significant landscapes and seascapes.

Publications

Partners


Photo: In communities near the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, COMPACT supports projects that engage youth in conservation (Belize) © Erik Hammar