Department Of Interior

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Department of the Secretary
Contact: Hugh Vickery
For Immediate Release: Sept. 8, 2003
NPS Director Mainella Leads Interior Department DelegationTo Fifth World Parks Congress in South Africa

(DURBAN, South Africa) - National Park Service Director Fran Mainella will lead the Department of Interior's delegation to the Fifth World Parks Congress, which is bringing together 2,500 delegates from 170 nations to this South African city to build partnerships and share information to benefit the world's parks and other protected areas.

"With the world's oldest national park system and the largest system of refuge lands dedicated to fish and wildlife, the United States is a leader in creating and conserving parks, refuges and other protected areas and has a great deal of expertise to share with the rest of the world," Mainella said. "At the same time, we have a great deal to learn from other countries and look forward to working with them to promote healthy parks and protected areas around the globe."
The World Parks Congress is held once every 10 years. The first congress was held in Seattle in 1962. Other congresses were held at Yellowstone National Park in 1972, Bali, Indonesia in 1982, and Caracas, Venezuela in 1992.

The theme of this congress, which runs Sept. 8-17, is "Benefits Beyond Boundaries," focusing on the development of stronger alliances between protected areas and other parts of society and the global economy, such as the resource and tourism sectors.

Delegates will also consider current issues such as the effect of invasive species and climate change on protected areas, the commercialization of these areas, and the rights of indigenous peoples who live in and near them.

Because the conference is being held in Durban, delegates will focus especially on increasing support for protected areas in Africa and the central role that these protected areas play in the livelihoods of the peoples of Africa. One of the goals of the Congress is to leave behind a legacy for protected areas within Africa.

Queen Noor of Jordan and Nelson Mandela will welcome the delegates to South Africa at the opening ceremonies.

"The Congress provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet with our colleagues from countries around the world and discuss solutions to common challenges," said James Kurth, deputy chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wildlife Refuge System, which is the largest system of lands in the world dedicated to wildlife. "We not only learn from each other but we build bridges and form partnerships that benefit all refuges, parks, and protected areas."


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