The Convention’s CEPA Programme


Training for protected area managers, University of Klagenfurt, Austria

University of Klagenfurt's first students graduate with an MSc in Protected Area Management

14-15 June, 2007, Klagenfurt, Austria

Reported by Sandra Hails

Launched in September 2005, the University of Klagenfurt's first MSc programme on Management of Protected Areas, has come to a close with 19 students having successfully completed the course work and the majority having also submitted their MSc thesis.

The Ramsar Secretariat is a member of the Advisory Board of this MSc course along with a broad range of institutions and experts with an interest and/or expertise in protected area management, including institutions such as the Austrian Bundesministerium für Land, CBD Secretariat, Europarc Federation, IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, PAN Parks Foundation, WWF, and experts such as Professor Michael Succow and Dr Christopher Imboden.

While the course is not specifically wetland-focused, the training is just as appropriate for wetland managers as for managers of other ecosystems. The course runs for two years involving 64 days of actual contact time, regular interaction with lecturers and tutors through an intranet, written assignments that contribute to the final qualification, and a Master's thesis on an agreed topic. Ramsar's Tobias Salathé was one of many expert lecturers involved in the teaching programme during 2006. With the direct contact time, this course is well suited for professionals seeking to improve their skills and knowledge whilst still continuing their job.

The programme is intense and covers legal, financial, social, and technical aspects of planning and managing protected areas and ensures that students are equipped to deal with the very broad range of demands they are likely to face in the real world of protected area management. (The full curriculum for the course beginning in September 2007 is available from the MPA web site here To maximise the hands-on experience the course is divided into nine modules which take place in different European locations - this first course took place in protected areas in Austria, Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland.

The Advisory Board was set up to assist in the development of the course content and to advise on the assessment of the first course to further refine it for 2007, building on the past two years' experience. This review of the course took place on June 14th in Klagenfurt. On the 15th, the MSc students presented and defended their MSc theses to the Advisory Board members and an invited international audience. The presentations were of a high quality and it was interesting to note that several of the projects had taken place in Ramsar sites.

While most students were of European origins, three students came from Nepal with funding from the Austrian Development Agency.

Presentations over, students, teaching staff, Advisory Board members, and invited guests gather in the fresh air for a group photo before the graduation cereomony begins. Photo by Ganga Nakarmi, graduating student.

Students of the MSc course looking more relaxed after their presentations during the day and the graduation ceremony that had just taken place. On the back row are the two course directors, Professor Dr Michael Getzner (left) of the University of Klagenfurt and Mag. Michael Jungmeier of the Institute for Ecology.

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