News | 28 Aug, 2023

World Protected Areas Leaders Forum Wraps Up Successful Event at Krkonoše National Park

Krkonoše National Park - The World Protected Areas Leaders Forum concluded its highly anticipated five-day event on June 30, 2023, at the picturesque Krkonoše National Park on the Czechia-Poland border in the heart of Central Europe. The forum brought together protected area agency leaders and conservationists to discuss critical issues facing protected areas and the future of our planet in the face of the twin climate and biodiversity crises. 

Read the full report: 


A Gathering of Global Protected Area Agency Leaders

Hosted against the stunning backdrop of the Krkonoše Mountains National Park and Jizera Mountains Protected Landscape, the World Protected Areas Leaders Forum welcomed over 30 participants from more than 20 countries. Delegates represented a range of national and sub-national protected areas agencies, covering an array of State and private conservation designations. 

The event was inaugurated with a powerful keynote address by Dr. Madhu Rao, Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas, where she emphasised the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address the challenges posed by habitat loss, climate change, and the alarming decline of global biodiversity. 

We have 7 years to reverse declining trends in biodiversity in the context of a rapidly changing climate. We have had much dialogue and debate and it is now time for action on the ground. This is when, as the saying goes, “that the rubber hits the road”. 

Krkonoše Mountains National Park’s Director, Robin Bornisch, also provided a welcome speech where he highlighted the achievements of Czech conservation, from the perspective of the Krkonoše Mountains National Park and Jizera Mountains Protected Landscape.

Key Themes and Discussions 

Throughout the five days, participants engaged in a series of plenary sessions and workshop-style discussions, with regular on-site field trips aimed at fostering knowledge-sharing and networking. A diverse range of topics was covered, including: 

  • Climate Resilience and Adaptation: With climate change posing a significant threat to ecosystems worldwide, discussions centred on strategies to enhance the resilience of protected areas and mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, with direct lessons shared from Krkonoše. 
  • Mainstreaming Protected Areas into Policy Development and Decision-making: There is a key need to recognise and mainstream the value and benefits of ecosystems within PA systems as well as other benefits related to human health, disaster risk mitigation and job creation opportunities.
  • Tourism and Sustainable Development: Participants explored the delicate balance between promoting ecotourism and ensuring the preservation of natural habitats and wildlife. 
  • Stewardship of Protected and Conserved Areas, OECMs and engaging Local Communities: The integral role of local stakeholders in conservation efforts was emphasised, including in ‘Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures’ or OECMs, highlighting the importance of traditional knowledge and sustainable practices. 
Krkonoše-Jizera Declaration Krkonoše-Jizera Declaration

 Collaboration and Commitment 

The forum culminated in the adoption of the Krkonoše-Jizera Declaration, a brief and targeted document outlining the need to safeguard global biodiversity and climate resilience.  

Mr. Property Mokoena, Director of South Africa National Parks, lauded the outcomes of the forum, stating, "the World Protected Areas Leaders Forum has provided a platform for meaningful exchange and collaboration. It is heartening to witness the dedication of individuals and nations working together to secure the future of our planet's most vulnerable ecosystems." 

Legacy and Future Endeavours 

As the delegates depart from the breath-taking landscapes of Krkonoše National Park, the legacy of the World Protected Areas Leaders Forum is expected to endure. The connections forged and knowledge shared during this event will hopefully inspire new initiatives and partnerships, and support actions by each agency to help better preserve the world's natural heritage for generations to come. 

Henrik Jansson, the Director of Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland, stated that “the reconvening of the WPALF is timely and much- needed to help leaders of the world’s protected areas agencies deal with the mounting pressures of the biodiversity and climate crises. The Czech hosts provided the perfect setting for reflection, connection and inspiration! Finland would be delighted to host the next meeting in 2024!” 

The success of the forum serves as a reminder that the collective efforts of dedicated individuals have the power to shape a sustainable and resilient future, where protected areas thrive and biodiversity flourishes. 

In the words of Chairman Song Hyung-Kun, Korean National Park Service: “I had the chance to meet like-minded and passionate leaders here in Czechia. We are delighted to share our experiences from Korea, and learn so much from the perspectives and experiences of peers.”. 

The Czechia hosts really appreciated the support of IUCN and IUCN WCPA in the preparation and running of this successful 12th World Protected Areas Leaders Forum, and look forward to participating in the next iteration.