“MPA Tip” is a recurring feature in MPA News that presents advice on planning and management gathered from various publications on protected areas. The purpose is two-fold: to provide useful guidance to practitioners, and to serve as a reminder of valuable literature from past years.

The following tip is from Funding Protected Area Conservation in the Wider Caribbean: A Guide for Managers and Conservation Organizations (UNEP/The Nature Conservancy, 1999). The report is available athttp://guide.conservationfinance.org/download.cfm?file=28_TNC-NorrisCurtis99-FundgProtACaribbean.pdf.

There is no simple step-by-step guide to developing a financial sustainability plan. The following list of key questions should help to start the process:

  • What are the current sources of funding? Can these be relied on indefinitely? What can be done to increase, extend, or strengthen each one of them?
  • Who are the protected area’s constituents? Sightseers? Hikers? Campers? Boaters? Fishermen? Tourism service operators (shops, hotels, restaurants, guides) in the area? What do they currently contribute to the costs of managing the area? Could they do more?
  • What services are currently provided, such as parking, trails, and campsites? Picnic areas? Boat launching, anchorage, or mooring? Do the users pay for these services? Are the fees what they should be? Would the users pay more?
  • What new services might be provided? What is the likelihood of their profitability?
  • What organizations are interested in the conservation of this area? Can the manager form a partnership with them to launch and share the costs of a fundraising campaign? Can the manager get campaign services pro bono from local companies (radio/TV, advertising agency, celebrity appearances, site/food/music for a special event, etc.)?
  • What donors, on a global or regional scale, have supported activities similar to what is included in the conservation plan here? Have they been made aware of the area and plans, to sound out their interest?
  • Has the government considered special taxes or levies? What are the pros and cons of such programs in the area/country? Can a case be made for establishing such a program, and can the necessary coalition be built to support it? Are there one or two key leaders who might be instrumental in establishing a “conservation sales tax” or some other type of surcharge or levy? Who could enlist them in the campaign?