In a 1916 letter from Interior Secretary Franklin K. Lane to first NPS Director Stephan Mather, the Service was directed to maintain contacts with national park authorities in other nations and to stay informed on their developments in order to identify areas for improvements in the U.S. National Park System.
Since that time, the National Park Service International Program has continued to promote and facilitate collaboration in preserving and understanding natural and cultural heritage throughout the world.
Sharing expertise with visiting park and conservation professionals, in addition to the National Park Service's overseas technical missions, demonstrates the full-range commitment of the Park Service in its contributions to global environmental conservation.
As such, the NPS Office of International Affairs is going places. We're working with our parks and partners to increase environmental and cultural awareness throughout the world. These are some of our current or recent projects:
A private media company, Ravenswood Media, and a non-governmental organization, Red Rocks Initiative, recently conducted the first wildlife filmmaking training course in Rwanda. The course was designed to give rangers, trackers, and guides a new tool to be more effective in their jobs.
The National Park Service Office of Public Affairs, along with the NPS Office of International Affairs, held a Zoom call with the students to discuss how the Service uses media in its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
Since 2019, the NPS has worked in close partnership with the Interior Department's International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) to support a USAID-funded national parks and ecotourism program for the nation of Georgia-Sakartvelo in the Caucasus. During the global pandemic NPS and DOI-ITAP focused on delivering a series of in-depth webinars on a wide range of natural resource and cultural heritage management topics, including alternative park financing by former USNPS Director Jon Jarvis. In summer 2022, NPS and DOI-ITAP worked with the Congressional Office for International Leadership's Open World Program to bring two Georgian delegations to the U.S. for study tours on national parks and volunteer management, at NPS, BLM and USFS sites in North Carolina and Alaska. Work will continue through 2024.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
A delegation of national park officials from the Baltic Countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia visited the NPS Washington Office in September of 2022. They came to the US to learn about many aspects of park management including planning, accessibility, environmental education, tourism and natural resources management. OIA also coordinated meetings at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as well as the Denver Service Center. The NPS also coordinated 4 webinars with the country’s national parks organizations during 2021 and 2022.
Since 1995, the NPS has supported the Japan-U.S. park Interpretation Training Seminar (JUITS) to share emerging trends and best practices in park interpretation and education programs from both Japan and the U.S. Begun with trainers at the Albright Training Center (HOAL), the Seminar has been supported by the NPS Office of International Affairs since 2005. Each year, at a different park, the Seminar focuses on the practice of park interpretation and education as applied to a specific topic, such as biodiversity, cultural heritage preservation, climate impacts or indigenous co-management. This year's Seminar was held at Olympic National Park and addressed how the park and its local community and indigenous partners interpret the management of white water to blue water resources.
The National Park Service Office of International Affairs recently held a video chat with the Lebanon Mountain Trails (LMT) organization to explore ways to share information and resources on trail management. NPS Trail Management documents were shared with LMT and plans are in place to hold a joint trails webinar to share lessons learned.
Capacity Builidng for Submerged Cultural Resources
NPS Submerged Resources Center (SRC) staff joined Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) staff and post-graduate students in Dakar, Senegal to provide technical assistance at the request of the State Department, UCAD, and other partners for underwater archeological training and capacity building.
This project is part of the larger NPS/State Department/Smithsonian/George Washington University partnership entitled Protecting Slave Related Sites and Antiquities (PSRSA). While in Senegal, SRC staff contributed to ongoing marine remote-sensing survey, site location, and wreck documentation efforts surrounding Goree Island near the capital city of Dakar. However, the primary objective was to further train and better equip the seven UCAD students (who will be Senegal’s first underwater archeologists) to conduct further research and lead the search for submerged cultural heritage without assistance. This ongoing work and training will continue to build the Senegalese capacity and foster the protection, preservation, and study of maritime heritage sites associated with the international slave trade.
NPS Supports Anti-Poaching Workshop at Kruger National Park
U.S. Army chief scientist Stephen Lee organized a workshop in South Africa’s Kruger National Park to highlight US Army and NPS methods to combat poaching. The target audience was mid and senior South Africa National Parks (SANParks) staff along with two rangers from Namibia. NPS & US Army staff also learned about the variety of programs that SANParks employs to alleviate its shortage of rangers in the field, including drones, sound coordinating equipment and canine tactical deployments. Both sides discussed future collaborations to share lessons learned in search and rescue, tactical emergency medical operations, fire management and community involvement.
Last updated: September 27, 2022