GWS helps coordinate World Heritage fellowships

WASHINGTON – This week the first two participants in the National Park Service’s (NPS) new “World Heritage Fellows” program arrived at their host sites in the U.S. The World Heritage Fellows program provides training opportunities for World Heritage site managers and staff from developing countries at U.S. World Heritage sites. Bernard Ngoru, from the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site in Kenya, will be working at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and Nuno Rodrigues da Silva, from Brazil’s Pantanal National Park and World Heritage Site, will be working at Everglades National Park.

The NPS Office of International Affairs (OIA), which coordinates World Heritage matters in the U.S. on behalf of the Department of the Interior, developed the Fellows program to promote hands-on training for World Heritage site management staff, in order to increase local capacity to protect these globally significant sites. While World Heritage sites are recognized by many as global icons, many of these sites also face significant threats, including in many cases lack of adequate management expertise and resources. The U.S. has long believed that the World Heritage community needs to place a stronger emphasis on conservation of these important sites, and the Fellows initiative is a direct outgrowth of that concern. The Fellows program also reflects the vision of new NPS Director Jon Jarvis, who has called for increased international leadership on the part of the National Park Service.

The NPS OIA, along with its partner the George Wright Society, provided funding for all travel costs, while the host NPS parks are providing free housing for the Fellows. Mr. Ngoru will be working on a variety of projects, including invasive species management, wildlife monitoring, and community outreach. Mr. Rodrigues da Silva will be working with Everglades staff (Everglades and Pantanal National Parks are also “Sister Parks”) on wetland research and monitoring projects. Both Fellows will spend approximately 6 weeks at their host site, followed by several days in Washington, DC in mid-December.

— USNPS Daily Digest