The selection of parks to be evaluated
is based on several criteria including biodiversity, presence of endemic and/or
endangered species, size, and severity of threats. ParksWatch also produces
evaluations in response to requests made by stakeholders such as government
agencies or NGOs.
Our goal is to revisit priority parks
on a four-year basis to update our data and gauge changes in conservation status.
The time required for each park audit varies depending on factors such as size
and accessibility, but the background information and on-site data collection
phases are typically completed in less than a month.
Park evaluations begin by gathering extensive
background information from all relevant sources, including existing databases,
governmental agencies, conservation organizations, newspaper reports, and other
published literature. Once this preparatory research is completed, the comprehensive,
on-site inspection of the park begins.
ParksWatch staff gather photographic
and video documentation and conduct in-depth interviews with park directors
and rangers, scientists, tourists, NGO workers, and local inhabitants living
inside or near the protected area.
The on-site data collection follows a
standardized questionnaire, in which data are organized in several categories
(including budget, management, conservation projects and reference materials),
with the majority of the data pertaining to the types and degree of threats.
Both direct threats (e.g., poaching, logging, and oil exploration), and indirect
threats (e.g. inadequate budget or staffing, conflictive management policies)
to park viability are assessed. Completed questionnaires are incorporated into
our database, and are subject to analyses aimed at serving the needs of the
academic and conservation communities as well as the political arena.